Admissions - Massachusetts Maritime bids farewell to 334 cadets
Photo by Cape Cod Times/Steve Heaslip
The graduating students at Massachusetts Maritime Academy got some practical advice Saturday morning.
Capt. Richard Phillips, a guest speaker for the graduation ceremony and a 1979 academy graduate himself, advised the Class of 2014 to move out of their parents' houses but visit often, which made everyone in the crowd laugh.
Another guest speaker, U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings told the students they should pursue what makes them happiest, and marry someone who agrees with that philosophy. "Go out there and feed your souls," Cummings said.
On Saturday, both Phillips and Cummings were awarded honorary doctor of public administration degrees. Phillips is best known as captain of the container ship Maersk Alabama during the vessel's hijacking in 2009 by Somali pirates, an experience relived in the 2013 movie "Captain Phillips" starring actor Tom Hanks. Democrat Cummings, who told students his parents were former sharecroppers with an elementary school education, has represented Maryland's 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1996.
By noon on the grounds of the school, 334 students had received their degrees, according to school registrar records. The academy is a public college that offers bachelor of science degrees in seven major programs, such as marine transportation and marine engineering. The school also awards master of science degrees in facilities management and emergency management.
Of the 2014 graduating class, more than 50 percent have jobs waiting for them, school President Rear Adm. Richard Gurnon said Saturday. Many will work on seafaring vessels, either private or government operated, and others will work for private companies, often those that need to transport goods by sea. The annual salaries for MMA graduates just out of school range from $50,000 to $80,000, or higher for seagoing positions, Gurnon said.
"We're going to miss them," Gurnon said of his own impressions of the day. Saturday was his 37th MMA graduation.
Two local families spoke Saturday before the ceremony of the transforming quality of the school. Lexa Inkley of South Yarmouth recalled how a few years earlier her twin brother Taylor had sworn he'd never go to college, and would likely join the Navy — until he visited the MMA campus. Taylor Inkley, 22, gave one of the addresses to graduates Saturday and also received a leadership award.
Lynda and Rick Feleciano of Bourne said they saw their two sons, Evan, 22, and Erick, 23, change very quickly at school, from being boys to becoming men. "I feel like I'm a lot more mature than a lot of my friends," Evan Feleciano said, standing near his parents. Erick Feleciano admitted to "relief" at the thought of graduating. "It means a lot," he said. "It's a big accomplishment."
Article written by Mary Ann Bragg/Cape Cod Times
June 22, 2014