Many TSA employees had the exciting opportunity to see their sons or daughters graduate from high school or college over the last few weeks, but one TSA leader enjoyed the very rare honor of speaking at her daughter’s commencement weekend.
Intelligence and Analysis Assistant Administrator Nancy Nykamp delivered the keynote address during the U.S. Army commissioning service at Indiana University in Bloomington. During the ceremony, 12 ROTC cadets were sworn into the U.S. Army as second lieutenants. Nykamp’s daughter, Olivia, was among them.
“I am exceedingly proud of Olivia,” Nykamp said. “She has worked hard, has an outstanding academic record, and is a strong, natural leader.”
Nykamp described the service as a particularly poignant event, especially since she swore in the same cadre of cadets at the beginning of their first year at IU during halftime of a Hoosier football game.
Olivia is a fourth generation U.S. Army officer who has accepted a commission into the Army Transportation Corps.
“I am grateful she has decided to pursue a career of service to our country,” the proud mom said. “I attribute part of her decision to join the Transportation Corps to the time she spent in and around TSA.
“She is a 9/11-era baby, having been at the Pentagon Day Care Center on September 11, 2001, and growing up around the military and TSA.”
During the graduation ceremony, Nykamp delivered a speech with a clever transportation theme. Addressing her audience of cadets, their families and friends, she emphasized the importance of making a commitment to one’s passion, adapting to a rapidly changing world, and the value of relationships with peers and mentors. She also encouraged the cadets to enjoy all aspects of their future as they travel down “life’s superhighway.”
She chose her theme from the movie “Cars,” based on the film’s popularity around the time the cadets entered kindergarten.
“The movie teaches so many valuable lessons, has a great soundtrack, and everyone in the IU cadet audience had likely seen the movie at least once,” explained Nykamp.
She admitted her humor and commencement address theme may have seemed a bit “corny,” but she wanted to connect with the entire audience in hopes that as the cadets advance in their military careers, they will carry with them some aspects of her speech.
She also felt it was a perfect fit for someone on the TSA senior leadership team to center her remarks around transportation.
As now 2nd Lt. Olivia Garner travels down her own life’s superhighway, she carries with her a legacy of service. One of her great-grandfathers served during World War I as a doctor in the U.S. Army, a grandfather served during World War II as an Army combat engineer and later as an Army veterinarian, and her parents served in multiple combat operations in the Army Military Intelligence and Aviation Corps.
Olivia is excited about her new adventures and hopes to become a civil servant in the Department of Homeland Security while serving in the Army Reserve.
Nykamp reflected, “When I see young leaders like Olivia and her second lieutenant peers at IU, who are all eager and committed to serving our country and making a difference, it fills me with optimism and hope for our nation’s future.”
By Don Wagner, TSA Strategic Communications & Public Affairs