For only the third time in the 118-year history of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, a cadet will follow in his brother's footsteps and serve as regimental commander, the leader of the school's 1,100 students.
Alex Jarvis of Westminster, a junior at the academy, is being named regimental commander at a ceremony today. His brother, Ross Jarvis, class of 2006, was the college's regimental commander his senior year.
“You're the guy who has to make the big calls, the tough decisions,” Alex Jarvis said.
Although not a military institution, the academy in Bourne runs on a military model, explained academy President Richard G. Gurnon.
“It's the key leadership position for a student, and it's a lot to take on, especially for someone who is also studying for an engineering degree,” Mr. Gurnon said.
Students are expected to live up to a certain standard, adhere to a set of rules, and follow the chain of command. Students can earn degrees in marine engineering, facilities engineering, marine transportation, emergency management, international maritime business, and marine safety and environmental protection.
The academy gained wide publicity last year when one of its graduates, Richard Phillips, captained a cargo ship off the coast of Africa that was attacked by pirates. Capt. Phillips, taken captive in exchange for the freedom of his crew and vessel, was saved by the U.S. Navy after a tense standoff.
As regimental commander, Mr. Jarvis will be the liaison between the student body and the administration and will be responsible for laying down rules and meting out discipline. Day-to-day, he manages inspections and schedules security tours of duty and accountability watches. In any official function, he is the head of the class, the person who speaks for every student.
All three years of a prospective regimental commander's student record are considered and must exemplify the academy's highest standards, Mr. Jarvis said.
“It's definitely not a one-year deal,” he said.
His best friends are among his fellow students, but if one is caught cheating or somehow breaking the school's rules, the regimental commander would be responsible for doling out the punishment.
“Among my peers, my word is pretty much the law,” he said. “It is a big responsibility.”
Mr. Jarvis said he was always proud of his brother's accomplishments at the academy, but didn't realize the weight of his responsibilities until he became a student himself.
“When I was going through high school, it didn't mean as much to me,” he said. “I got here and I saw what he was responsible for, and I was, like, my brother was that guy, that's unbelievable.”
Mr. Jarvis, son of Richard and Donna Jarvis of Westminster and a 2007 graduate of St. Bernard's High School in Fitchburg, is working toward a degree in marine engineering and is an honor student.