ANNAPOLIS (WJZ) — The United States Naval Academy Class of 2021 is officially graduated.

Of the 1,084 graduates, 59 are from Maryland.

READ MORE: PHOTOS: 2021 USNA Commencement

“This is the last time with any certainty we’re going to be at the same place the same time,” USNA graduate Matthew Siebold of Bel Air said. “Bel Air High School, you always see people wearing Navy gear. You always see it walking down the halls. It’s really special to be here.”

US Vice President Kamala Harris shakes hands with a US Naval Academy graduate during the commencement ceremony in Annapolis, Maryland on May 28, 2021. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Vice President Kamala Harris spoke Friday to the class at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

“The American people are depending on you—the best, the bravest, the most brilliant,” Harris said. “The challenge before us now is how to mount a modern defense to these modern threats.”

More than 28 percent of the class is female (306 total), the largest percentage of women graduates in the academy’s history.

Annie Maloney of Ellicott City graduated Friday.

“Coming full circle from I-Day, sitting with your classmates, getting sworn in then to sitting with your classmates now, completely different. I have hair now. They have hair now,” Maloney, a Quantitative Economics major, joked. “Really just proud. That’s the best word for today.”

A Naval Academy graduate celebrates after receiving their diploma from US Vice President Kamala Harris during the graduation and commissioning ceremony in Annapolis, Maryland on May 28, 2021. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Many graduates say finishing their studies during the pandemic gave them leadership lessons.

“We’ve been one of the only classes to see senior leadership under pressure and I think that’s been a wonderful opportunity for all of us to see,” Joe Wiedemann of Bethesda said. “It’s an amazing release to the crucible of the last four years.”

Friday’s commissions included a pair of interservice transfers, one in the Air Force, and another in the Space Force, the first in the Academy’s history.

 

Paul Gessler