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American Public University System Celebrates 2016 Graduating Class at 20th Annual Commencement Ceremony

Charles Town, W. Va., June 22, 2016American Public University System (APUS) celebrated the achievements of one of its largest-ever graduating classes at its 20th annual commencement on June 18 at the Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor, Md. Nearly 11,000 American Military University (AMU) and American Public University (APU) graduates were recognized, with more than 1,100 in attendance, and thousands more and their families participating via live webcast from around the world.

The Class of 2016 featured approximately 5,500 bachelor’s, 3,200 master’s, and 2,100 associate degree conferrals, expanding the APUS global alumni network to more than 60,000 worldwide. Graduates of APUS -- founded 25 years ago as AMU to educate those who serve -- included more than 5,600 service members and represented all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 27 countries.

President and CEO Dr. Wallace E. Boston urged the graduates to “recognize your achievement for the major milestone it represents. We understand the challenges of balancing work, family and college and, regardless of the route you took, you persevered and earned your degree.” In addition, he was the inaugural honoree of the Dr. Wallace Boston Leadership award, a new recognition designed to celebrate distinguished APUS leaders. 

Dr. J.D. Polk, APUS Board of Trustees member and senior medical officer with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, encouraged the graduates to “fall forward” to accomplish their ambitions. “Falling forward means to continue your education, both formal and informal, whether that be a master’s degree, a certificate or military professional education, or some other opportunity that allows you to achieve personal growth, insight, and expansion of your education,” he said.

Additional highlights from this year’s ceremony included the following:

  • AMU psychology graduate Tawny Pelletier received the President’s Award for outstanding graduate academic and professional achievement. She serves as an officer in the US Air Force, where she leads the largest stateside military personnel section, and also volunteers as a sexual assault victim advocate and at the San Antonio, Texas, Rape Crisis Center.
  • AMU legal studies graduate Joshua Jenkins received the President’s Award for outstanding undergraduate academic and professional achievement. Over the course of his military career, he was awarded 16 medals, including two Meritorious Unit Citations and six Army Commendation Medals, among several others.
  • APUS Board of Trustees Member Frank Ball was presented with an honorary degree and  recognized as an emeritus trustee.

Nine AMU and APU graduates received the Academic Scholar Award for their superior academic achievements in earning a degree from one of APUS’s six schools. Additional outstanding alumni were also recognized with Community Service, Education, University Service, and Distinguished Graduate Awards, while student organization leaders and outstanding chapters were recognized for their achievements in co-curricular activities.

Overall, more than 30 student organizations participated in various events, and over 500 alumni, faculty, and staff members packaged 50,000+ meals for distribution to underprivileged communities worldwide through Stop Hunger Now.

About American Public University System

American Public University System, recipient of the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Ralph E. Gomory Award for Quality Online Education and four-time recipient of the OLC Effective Practice Award, offers more than 190 online degree and certificate programs through American Military University and American Public University. More than 65,000 alumni worldwide have benefited from APUS's relevant curriculum, affordability, and flexibility in pursuing and earning degrees in such areas as business, information technology, and security and global studies. For further information, visit

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Brian Muys

Brian Muys

Associate VP Public Relations