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Press Release | May 24, 2024

Maryland native named top graduate at Coast Guard Academy

It is no secret that for those who crave a challenge, life at a military service academy can be a tough and competitive one.

Of the 1,855 students who completed applications to join the Class of 2024 at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, only about 23% were offered an appointment.  Among the 266 young women and men who accepted their appointments were 11 high school valedictorians and eight salutatorians.  

When they arrived on an early July morning in 2020, at the height of the pandemic, their first day of training known as Day One was far different than any other.

Gone was the whirlwind of military haircuts, uniform issue, and drill practice. Instead, each platoon was sworn-in before starting a 14-day restriction of movement (ROM) period consisting mostly of military indoctrination and online classroom training, prior to the start of physical training which began on day 15.

As the days turned into months and the class worked their way through their four years here, one of them excelled in every aspect of their training.  Madison Garrigus, a Marine and Environmental Sciences major from Laurel, Md., was named the Distinguished Graduate of the class.  To receive this award a cadet must earn the highest miliary precedence average, which includes academic, military, and athletic components of the entire 200-week program.

Garrigus earned a 3.99 GPA and holds both the indoor facility and outdoor Academy records in the pole vault (11' 9.75" and 11' 8" respectively.) She served as Captain of both the indoor and outdoor Women’s Track and Field teams and is one of the fastest runners in Academy history, holding a top ten time in the 60-meter dash after a meet earlier this year. 

She also won a series of academic awards, including the Class of 1931 Prize in Chemistry awarded to the cadet who attains the overall highest cumulative grade point average in multiple chemistry courses taken during the full course of instruction.

“She always wants to do her best,” said Cmdr. Victoria Futch, Associate Dean for the School of Science, Mathematics, and the Humanities, who also served as Garrigus’ academic advisor. “She really chases excellence and does not want to leave anything on the table.”

Reflecting on her time at the Academy, Garrigus said, “Over the past four years I have seen my mindset shift from looking to others for solutions to creating solutions.” 

After graduation, Ensign Garrigus will report to the CGC Venturous homeported in St. Petersburg, Fla., as she and her classmates head out to their first Coast Guard assignments this summer in the service of their country and humanity.