New intern graduates embrace career challenges, contribute to DLA success

By Michael Jones DLA Land and Maritime Public Affairs

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The Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime welcomed 78 Pathways to Career Excellence Program graduates into the permanent workforce Nov. 5 in a graduation ceremony at the Defense Supply Center Columbus’ Operations Center Auditorium.

The event was an inspiring moment for the new graduates from the motivating rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner to the impressive collection of speakers.

The graduation marks the culmination of two years of demanding work included in comprehensive formal development programs that crossed several disciplines. Graduates were exposed to training opportunities and worked on many significant projects to provide them with an enterprise perspective of logistics support.

Pam Latker, chief of DLA Human Resources’ Career Management Division, provided opening remarks and shared some of her career experiences with DLA as she transitioned through the ranks. She encouraged the graduates to always put forth their best effort and told them as they continue in their careers they will play an important role in helping DLA develop a positive, affirmative workplace.  Latker framed the remainder of her remarks imploring the graduates to be happy in their career journey.

“Your brain works better when you’re in a good mood,” Latker said.

DLA Land and Maritime Deputy Commander Kenneth Watson followed Latker and provided a broader perspective of what it means to join the ranks of the civil service. He thanked everyone in the audience who’s supported the graduates throughout their journey. He shared that he was a product of an intern program more than three decades ago and how he benefitted throughout his career.

“It’s an important opportunity and a privilege, and I think you’re going to have a lot of fun,” he said.

“Civil service is a calling,” Watson said. “Your service to our nation within the civil service is the bulwark for stability around the globe.”

Watson urged the graduates to continue to be passionate about what they do and predicted from personal experience that they would get more out of it. He thanked the graduates for their commitment and dedication before awarding individual DLA Land and Maritime graduation diplomas.

After the DLA Land and Maritime graduates were honored, Derek Saunders, director of DLA Human Resources Services for DoD Customers, provided congratulatory remarks for DLA Human Resources graduates.

As another former intern graduate, Saunders reflected on his career journey and detailed the importance of continual learning and how the intern program helped prepare him for career success. He echoed sentiments of challenge and encouragement shared by Latker and Watson earlier in the program.

“You’re now at a point where you get to chart your future development, what I would call seasoning,” Saunders said. He also shared a few recommendations to help the DLA Human Resources graduates navigate their future careers before presenting their diplomas.

The graduation ceremony concluded with a gathering outside the auditorium that featured celebratory cake and punch.