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Massachusetts Maritime Academy - A different kind of Co-Op Admissions - A different kind of Co-Op

In January 2014, for the fourth year in a row, a team of eight MMA undergraduate students headed to Haiti. This year’s group obtained and delivered supplies to help in the ongoing humanitarian relief effort in Ile-a-Vache, Haiti.

Throughout the fall semester, students worked with government and non-government organizations in the United States, Ireland and Haiti to make this happen. Supplies ranged from equipment to assist with potable water challenges to computer gear for the local orphanage.

One of the eight cadets was 3/C Emily Behen, a 2016 Danvers (MA) High School grad and current Emergency Management major. Behen is also an Emery Rice scholar, active in Student Government, and an organizer of the annual Dept. of Children’s and Family Services Fundraiser. She somehow finds time to play on the woman’s soccer team. 

“The goal of the Haiti Project is to help the residents of the small island of Ile-a-Vache to become self sufficient. Delivering well digging equipment was very important since access to potable water is the single biggest day-to-day struggle,” Behen reported. “In Haiti, the task of collecting drinkable water is delegated to young girls … which wreaks havoc on their development, both physically and emotionally. It is not unlikely for a girl to not attend school because she needs to get water. Due to the terrain and size of the girl it is quite literally often a full-time job,” she added.

Cadets also did follow up on previous projects involving engineering of cisterns and other water systems.  Emergency Management students did some work with GIS, mapping out medical evacuation routes, compiling a total, comprehensive plan.

“None of us will forget the day we spent at Sister Flora's orphanage in the small town of Madam Bernard. She runs a truly incredible orphanage. It pays for some of the children to go to school, and all of them are washed, fed, and housed under a secure roof. Although the children could not speak English, and we could not speak French Creole, all of the MMA students loved playing with the kids.” Behen remembered.

Behen applied to this unique, Academy generated co-op because of its exotic location and the scope of its need and a desire to give back. The Haiti project provided a singular opportunity to apply the Academy’s “learn-do-learn” model. “We were able to see our efforts rewarded,” Behen noted.

*Captain Tom Lennon, Faculty Advisor
1/C Michael Neil (EM), Team Leader
1/C Christopher Affannato (EM)
2/C Kevin Dougherty (EM)
2/C Laura Marin (EM)
2/C Douglas Aldrich (FE)
2/C Aristides Ortiz (FE)
2/C Shannon Koechl (IMB)


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last updated 3-12-14 by nsantos@maritime.edu