David Hayes, Andrew Pearn and Mitchell Laughlan stood together, crisp white navy uniforms glowing under blue graduation robes.
The trio forged a solid friendship while studying electrical engineering degrees at the University of Wollongong and graduated side by side on Friday.
The doors at UOW might have closed, but the openings on navy ships and aircraft beckon.
Midshipmen Laughlan and Hayes will now undergo officer training at HMAS Creswell at Jervis Bay, while Lieutenant Pearn, who has been in the navy for about 20 years, will head to an electrical engineering application course.
"We studied together a lot and they were just a phone call away if you were struggling," Midshipman Hayes said of the friendship.
"It's been a good few years," Midshipman Laughlan said.
Aviation has always been an interest for the 23-year-old, who will eventually be in charge of sailors working on aircraft.
"I grew up at Culburra Beach, so very close to the two navy bases down there," Midshipman Laughlan said.
"From a young age, I went to air shows a lot and thought aviation was a great career."
He also has a twin brother in the Defence Force with "a bit of insight into how it all operates".
Midshipman Hayes, from Bemboka, will work on ships as part of an engineering authority when he becomes fully fledged.
"[I'll be] in charge of all the electrical systems, making sure they're well maintained," he said.
The navy sponsored their study, with a salary.
"The navy are pretty lenient while you're studying ... there's not a great deal of navy commitments while uni is on," Midshipman Laughlan said.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.