Admissions - Mass. maritime academy's class of 2013 graduates
Photo taken by Cape Cod Times/Steve Heaslip
(On Saturday) members of what is likely the only graduating class to bemoan a lack of rain gathered on the parade field at Massachusetts Maritime Academy to receive degrees.
“I won't tell a lie, I woke up and prayed for it to rain just a little bit,” school president Adm. Richard Gurnon told the students.
For most graduates, sunny skies are a good omen. But for the 332 members of the Class of 2013, they marked the end of an era in which every single event or outdoor activity they had for the past four years happened in the rain.
The class even included rain drops on its class ring design.
So sure that graduation would be no different, the college installed a “$20,000 Barnum and Bailey” tent above the stage, Gurnon said in an interview before graduation – only to be greeted instead with blue skies.
Still, it was impossible to forget that the cadets gathered today are members of a maritime tradition: Over the sounds of cheers, flags on the T.S. Kennedy training ship whipped in the wind.
As the graduates stood to receive their degrees, their crisp white dress uniforms – along with a handful of those from the armed forces, worn by graduates who commissioned in as officers earlier this week – flapped in the breeze.
Renowned journalist, author and documentarian Sebastian Junger, the day's commencement speaker, told the gathered cadets their membership in the United States' “very powerful maritime force” was one of the things that made the country so great.
“You are bringing comfort and safety and prosperity to hundreds of millions of people,” he said. “It makes you part of something much larger than just your own lives.”
It's that on-the-sea experience that, four years ago, convinced Jordan Bonina of Marstons Mills to stay at Massachusetts Maritime when he was considering transferring, his parents said.
“Like a lot of kids, he had a rocky start,” his mother, Julie Bonina, said.
But a trip on the Kennedy during the school's annual “sea term” as a freshman changed his mind and his major, to international maritime business.
“He did a complete 180,” his father, Joe, said – and now Jordan has a job in the field that he starts in just six days.
Robert Lowell of South Dennis knew he wanted to go to Massachusetts Maritime by age 8, his parents John and Stephanie Lowell said.
Now, the boy who built boats with his friends growing up is heading to the sea, and in August will be on a drilling rig off the coast of Africa, John Lowell said.
That kind of job success is common with graduates: About 95 percent have jobs in their chosen fields, Gurnon said.
The hard work and training the cadets received at Massachusetts Maritime would be the most important thing to their future successes, Junger said.
But, he added, don't be afraid of the strange and mysterious things in life.”
Before his writing career took off, Junger got a job offer as a “climber” for an arborist but got injured on the job.
If not for that injury, he said, he wouldn't have gone looking for stories and found the one about the Andrea Gail, which was turned into the book and film “The Perfect Storm.”
“I'm not saying your future lies in a bar,” Junger joked. “But it's possible to over-plan and remain closed to the possibilities.”