Starfleet Academy is the gateway to a career as a Starfleet Officer, and graduating from the academy signifies that you are among the best of the best.
Notable graduates include Una Chin-Riley, the first Illyrian to graduate, Saru, the first Kelpien to join Starfleet, and James T. Kirk, the first cadet to beat the Kobayashi Maru.
Other notable graduates include Valeris, the first Vulcan to graduate at the top of her class, Data, the first android to graduate, and Worf, the first Klingon to join Starfleet.
The gateway to a career as a Starfleet Officer in Star Trek is to graduate Starfleet Academy, and a number of beloved characters in the franchise were students who made Starfleet Academy history. Starfleet is the goal of thousands of young humans and extraterrestrials who dream of exploring the galaxy or perhaps becoming captain of their own starship one day. While it’s possible to join Starfleet as a non-commissioned officer, and some Star Trek heroes like Chief Miles O’Brien (Colm Meaney) have taken this path, graduating from Starfleet Academy is a signifier that you are among the best of the best and worthy to become a Starfleet Officer.
Starfleet Academy is based in San Francisco on Earth, not far from Starfleet Headquarters. Starfleet Academy Cadets intensively learn the ins and outs of what it means to be part of Starfleet in a 4-year training program preparing them for every aspect of life in space. From what it takes to serve on a starship, pilot a shuttlecraft, learn about the warp core, and survive away missions on Class M planets, to the intricacies of command, Starfleet Academy prepares its Cadets for a career exploring strange new worlds and even defending the United Federation of Planets from hostile races like the Borg and the Romulans. In Star Trek: Discovery‘s 32nd century, Starfleet Academy reopened after a century of The Burn, and the school is located in space with Federation headquarters. Here are 9 notable Starfleet Academy graduates who made Federation history.
11 Una Chin-Riley – First Illyrian To Graduate From Starfleet Academy (Star Trek: Strange New Worlds)
Commander Una Chin-Riley (Rebecca Romijn) was the first Illyrian to graduate from Starfleet Academy, and she went on to serve as First Officer of the USS Enterprise under Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount). However, Una’s status as a genetically engineered Illyrian wasn’t known until Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2, when Number One revealed herself to Starfleet and faced court-martial for lying on her application. Number One concealed that she was Illyrian because genetic modification is banned in the Federation. However, Una won her court-martial and was allowed to return to the Enterprise, proud that her truth was revealed. In the 24th century, Lt. Brad Boimler (Jack Quad) of Star Trek: Lower Decks was inspired to join Starfleet because of Una and her personal motto, “Ad Astra Per Aspera.”
10 Saru – First Kelpien To Graduate From Starfleet Academy (Star Trek: Discovery)
Star Trek: Discovery‘s Saru (Doug Jones) is both the first Kelpien to leave his homeworld of Kaminar and the first Kelpien to join Starfleet. Saru was taken off-world by Lt. Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) of the USS Archimedes, and he was processed at Starbase 7 before enrolling in Starfleet Academy on Earth. Saru learned 94 Federation languages while at the Academy, which prepared him for a life of space exploration, first as a Lieutenant and Science Officer on the USS Shenzhou before he was transferred to become First Officer of the USS Discovery. After leading Discovery into the 32nd century, Saru was promoted to Captain of the Discovery, but he yielded the center seat to his successor, Captain Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green).
9 James T. Kirk – First Starfleet Academy Cadet To Beat The Kobayashi Maru (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan/Star Trek 2009)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan revealed that Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner) was the first Starfleet Academy cadet to beat the Kobayashi Maru test. Not a believer in the no-win scenario, Cadet Kirk reprogrammed the simulation so that there was a way to rescue the Kobayashi Maru freighter, and he got a commendation for original thinking. In the alternate Kelvin Timeline of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek 2009 movie, James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) also cheated the Kobayashi Maru and became the first Starfleet Cadet to beat the no-win scenario, drawing the ire of its programmer, Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto).
8 Valeris – First Vulcan To Graduate Top Of Her Class At Starfleet Academy (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
Captain Spock (Leonard Nimoy) proudly introduced his protégé, Lt. Valeris (Kim Cattrall), as the first Vulcan to graduate at the top of her class at Starfleet Academy. Unfortunately, Valeris’ treacherous actions in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, disgraced Starfleet, the Federation, and Spock. Valeris entered into a conspiracy with rouge elements in Starfleet, the Klingons, and the Romulans to assassinate Klingon Chancellor Gorkon (David Warner) and prevent peace between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. Captain Kirk deduced Valeris’ treasonous role and the Vulcan was apprehended after Kirk and the Enterprise crew publicly outed the conspiracy.
7 Data – First Android In To Graduate From Starfleet Academy (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Data (Brent Spiner) was the first android to graduate from Starfleet Academy prior to his posting to the USS Enterprise-D in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Built by Dr. Noonian Soong (Brent Spiner), Data was allowed to join Starfleet Academy in 2341, although his application was opposed by Dr. Bruce Maddox (Brian Brophy) on the grounds that the android was “not a sentient being.” Data earned his full rights in the TNG season 2 classic, “The Measure of a Man,” and the noble android garnered all manner of medals and awards from Starfleet prior to his death in Star Trek: Nemesis and his resurrection in Star Trek: Picard season 3.
6 Worf – First Klingon To Graduate From Starfleet Academy (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
The first Klingon to join Starfleet, Worf (Michael Dorn) was raised on Earth by human foster parents, the Rozhenkos. During a visit to the Klingon homeworld Q’onoS when he was a teenager, a vision of the Kahless the Unforgettable told Worf he would do what no Klingon has ever done before. Worf entered Starfleet Academy and began a tumultuous career in Starfleet during his years serving on the USS Enterprise-D and E in Star Trek: The Next Generation and the TNG movies, and in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Worf has served as Federation Ambassador to Q’onoS and as Captain of the Enterprise-E. In Star Trek: Picard season 3, a more contemplative Captain Worf works for Starfleet Intelligence.
5 Wesley Crusher – First Crusher Not To Graduate From Starfleet Academy (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Introduced as Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s resident boy genius, Wesley Crusher seemed on the verge of fulfilling his destiny by joining Starfleet Academy under the sponsorship of Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart). However, Cadet Crusher was involved in the cover-up over the death of a fellow classmate in Nova Squadron. Wesley confessed; his academic year was voided, and he was required to repeat his courses. Wesley soon resigned from Starfleet Academy to discover his true purpose as a member of the galactic beings called the Travelers. However, unlike his father Lt. Commander Jack R. Crusher (Doug Wert), his mother Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden), and his half-brother Jack Crusher (Ed Speleers), Wesley is the first member of his family to fail to graduate from Starfleet Academy.
4 Nick Locarno – Expelled For Leading A Cover-Up (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
In Star Trek: The Next Generation season 5, episode 19, “The First Duty,” Nicholas Locarno (Robert Duncan McNeill) was Wesley Crusher’s classmate and the leader of Nova Squadron, an elite group of Cadets given special privileges. Locarno was ringleader of the cover-up of the death of their classmate, Joshua Albert, during a prohibited flight maneuver. After the truth was revealed, Locarno was expelled from Starfleet Academy. Locarno’s whereabouts where unknown until Star Trek: Lower Decks season 4 revealed that Nick became a pilot-for-hire based out of the criminal world of New Axton. However, Locarno is actually the culprit behind a series of attacks on non-Federation ships, making Nick one of the worst examples of a former Starfleet Cadet gone rogue.
3 Nog – First Ferengi To Graduate From Starfleet Academy (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
Proving his doubters wrong, including his own sponsor, Captain Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks), Nog (Aron Eisenberg) distinguished himself as the first Ferengi to join Starfleet in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Nog took to Starfleet Academy’s discipline and structure like a duck to water, and he was soon allowed to conclude his assignments in the field back on DS9, where he fought on the front lines of the Dominion War. Despite tragically losing his leg in the Siege of AR-558, Ensign Nog continued to serve with distinction as a phenomenal Starfleet success story, earning a promotion to Lieutenant, junior grade at the end of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
2 Red Squad – First Cadets Assigned Their Own Starship (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
Proving Starfleet Academy learned nothing from the mistakes of Nova Squadron, another group of elite cadets designated Cadet Training Squadron 47 (CTS-47) and dubbed Red Squad was created. In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season 4, members of Red Squad conspired with the corrupt Admiral Leyton (Robert Foxworth) to disable Earth’s defense grid during his attempted military takeover to safeguard the planet from the Changelings. In DS9 season 6, episode 22, “Valiant,” Red Squad took command of the USS Valiant during the Dominion War after the Captain was killed. Acting Captain Tim Watters (Paul Popowich) kept the Valiant behind enemy lines and led a foolish mission against the Jem’Hadar that led to the deaths of nearly every member of Red Squad.
1 Elnor – First Full-Blooded Romulan To Graduate From Starfleet Academy (Star Trek: Picard)
As a young boy, the Romulan refugee Elnor was accepted among the sect of Romulan warrior nuns called the Qowat Milat, and he was befriended by Admiral Jean-Luc Picard. The adult Elnor appointed himself as Jean-Luc’s protector in Star Trek: Picard season 1, and when Picard became Chancellor of Starfleet Academy, he sponsored Elnor’s application. In Star Trek: Picard season 2, Chancellor Picard proudly spotlighted Elnor as the first full-blooded Romulan in Star Trek to graduate from Starfleet Academy, and Elnor was posted to the USS Excelsior. Star Trek: Picard season 3 showrunner Terry Matalas confirmed that Elnor survived the events of Frontier Day, and he wasn’t aboard the Excelsior when it was destroyed by the Borg-assimilated Starfleet, so perhaps Elnor can return if Picard‘s proposed spinoff, Star Trek: Legacy, happens.
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