More than 300 students graduated from Virginia Military Institute Friday.
Half of the graduates will serve as officers in the United States Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force and they got to hear from one of the best of the best Friday morning before assuming those new roles.
One by one the cadets took some of their last steps on VMI’s campus.
"It’s a sigh of relief and so sad at the same time,” said graduate Alyssa Ford. “It’s over. It’s just an awesome feeling."
After four years of challenging themselves, both physically and mentally, the graduates said they are excited, but also nervous, for what's next.
"I wanted to get out of here, but it’s kinda like I gotta go into the real world now,” said graduate Joseph Kemp.
There is no one better to prepare them for the real world than General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"We can't do the things we do as a military without trust,” said Dempsey. “It combines us together and without it, our profession is nothing.”
Dempsey spoke highly of V-M-I, noting that these graduates will be held to a higher expectation because of the things they learned here like patriotism, courage, integrity and trust.
"The values which you've developed as graduates of this institute, in which, whether you realize it or not, now define you as a person,” he said.
Not to mention the friendships and bonds created at VMI that most said will last a lifetime.