The Newport News Shipbuilding Apprentice School Class of 2022 was celebrated during a commencement ceremony Saturday, March 18. Photo by Ashley Cowan

NNS Apprentice School Graduates 200

Published March 22, 2023

Newport News Shipbuilding hosted commencement exercises Saturday, celebrating 200 graduates of the NNS Apprentice School’s Class of 2022. The ceremony was held at Liberty Live Church in Hampton.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin delivered the keynote commencement address.

“Newport News Shipbuilding graduates: You build America, you run America, you are the backbone of America, and we are so proud of you,” he said. “As governor of Virginia, it’s never been clearer that the road to American exceptionalism runs right through your classrooms and dry docks. Congratulations on honing your skill and your relentless dedication. You are the pride and future of Virginia.”

Xavier Beale, NNS vice president of human resources and trades, addressed the graduates as the shipyard’s newest leaders.

“You chose to answer the noble call to become a shipbuilder, to give of yourself to build the world’s most powerful nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines,” he said. “You completed thousands of hours of rigorous classroom and on-the-job training to become experts in your fields. You graduate today, armed with the craftsmanship, scholarship and leadership necessary to become our next generation of shipbuilding leaders.”

Jasmine Tutt received the Homer L. Ferguson Award, which recognizes the apprentice graduating with the highest average in combined required academic and craft grades. She is the first African American woman to receive the award. Photo by Lexi Whitehead

Jasmine Tutt received the Homer L. Ferguson Award, which recognizes the apprentice graduating with the highest average in combined required academic and craft grades. Tutt is the first African American woman and only the second woman in the school’s history to receive the award. She is a shift refueling engineer and has supported a variety of programs, including Virginia-class submarine and Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier construction, since joining NNS in 2014.

Tutt first graduated from William & Mary with a degree in chemistry. During her time at The Apprentice School, she earned an associate degree in engineering from Tidewater Community College and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Old Dominion University.

During her address, Tutt asked graduates to reflect on the experiences that have shaped their apprenticeships and set them up for success as shipyard leaders.

“We’re stronger together than we are alone. Don’t forget those feelings as you help guide the next generation of apprentices and shipbuilders, because we’ll leave today as new members of a unique community of graduates unlike any other,” she said. “Within this community exists a bond of hard work, dedication and sheer grit that is unique to having been an apprentice.”

Replay coverage of the ceremony is available at

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin shakes a graduate’s hand during Saturday’s ceremony. Photo by Ashley Cowan

The following is a profile of the graduating class:

  • Thirty-two completed an optional, advanced program, earning an associate or bachelor’s degree. The program includes coursework in subjects such as marine design, production planning, modeling and simulation, and marine engineering.
  • Seventy-nine earned honors, a combination of academic and craft grades that determine overall performance.
  • Two completed the Advanced Shipyard Operations Program, allowing them to continue their postsecondary education, expand their experience in waterfront operations and develop leadership skills to improve the quality and efficiency of production, manufacturing and maintenance processes.
  • Forty-three completed Frontline FAST, an accelerated skills training program for potential foremen.
  • Thirty-three inducted into The National Society of Leadership Success.
  • Six completed the World Class Shipbuilder Curriculum and advance optional program with a perfect 4.0 GPA.
  • Six are military veterans or are currently serving in the armed services as reservists and guardsmen, representing every branch of the military.
  • Twenty-two earned athletic awards.