Follow the Leader - MMA Runs in the Family

The Poucher Family

Leadership is one pillar of a Massachusetts Maritime Academy education. While most think of Regimental leadership or envision alumni rising to high positions in their careers, sometimes examples of leadership are much closer to home. We spoke with members of three such families who to learn more about why they continue to choose the Academy.

The Power of Two – The Poucher Family
Growing up in Salem, N.H., the Poucher twins, Danny and Kyle, had very similar experiences. They both were part of the high school varsity swim team and the school’s Air Force Jr. ROTC unit. Their similar interests naturally yielded a lot of the same friends and opportunities. Still, the brother-sister duo never discussed whether they would stick together when it came to selecting a college. But after a tour at MMA, each knew where they wanted to go. “Lucky for us, it was the same place,” says Danny.

The Pouchers, who are 1/C Emergency Management majors with minors in Homeland Security, agree that having one another on campus is a huge benefit. “If I’m ever having a bad day, I know I can walk down the hall to my brother’s room to get a hug and words of reassurance,” Kyle says. Danny adds, “It’s great to have family at the Academy — it puts a different spin on the culture and experience.”

Having a support system nearby is clearly a plus, but having a sibling, especially a twin, on campus can mask one’s uniqueness. “Individuality is something most twins struggle with,” Kyle says. While professors and peers tend to compare them, the Pouchers have managed to define who they are as two distinct cadets. Eager to get involved from the start, both Danny and Kyle were elected to the Student Government Association their first year at the Academy. Kyle has remained active in the SGA since.

In the latter half of his second year at MMA, Danny opted to attend the Barnstable County Fire Rescue Training Academy and earned his Fire I/II certifications. Upon graduating from the Fire Academy, he was hired by the Onset Fire Department as a call firefighter. “He enjoys public service and spends a good quantity of his time there,” Kyle says. The idea of working for the same company post-graduation has a certain appeal to the Pouchers, but both agree that it is unlikely. Kyle is interested in pursuing a career in cyber-security. Danny is considering something in business continuity. Regardless of where they ultimately land, their bond has always been strong and distance won’t change that. Forever twins, and forever Bucs.

A Sib Thing – The Doucette Family
3/C Chloe Doucette was very familiar with the Academy long before she began exploring her options for college. The Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA, native had been visiting Taylor’s Point since her eldest brother, Will ’12, arrived on campus in 2009. Since then, her sister, Hillary ’14, and brother 1/C Henry also made their way to MMA. After watching all three of her siblings succeed at the Academy, Chloe decided she should consider it for herself.

Chloe Doucette So what drew all four siblings to the same college? The simple answer is the opportunities and benefits that MMA provides for its students. Chloe says, “Even though it is not like a regular college experience, the reward of graduating from MMA is worth more than anything.” Each Doucette followed his or her own path while at the Academy. Will studied Marine Engineering, as does Henry, while Hillary and Chloe chose to major in Marine Safety and Environmental Protection. Chloe says, “Will has shipped with Transocean since graduation and currently works in the Gulf of Mexico.” Hillary was also in the Gulf of Mexico when she worked for Noble Drilling. She has returned to her home state, however, and now works for the Massachusetts Port Authority at Logan International Airport.

The two youngest Doucette’s still have time to determine their career paths. So far, Henry has gained experience on a commercial ship with Chemical Pioneer. Chloe says, “Since I’m the same major as Hillary, I’ve gotten a preview of what my options are.” But she’s just at the beginning of her journey, with no need to rush to any decisions.

Attending a nontraditional college presents challenges that most friends from home do not share or understand. The Doucettes are lucky to have each other to lean on when things get tough. They can help each other through challenging aspects of regimental life, the rigors of a specific curriculum, and adjusting to life at sea. “I can go to my sister or brothers and ask them questions about something I’m struggling with,” Chloe says. “They also have given me basic tips on how to make it through the Academy.”

Chloe is the last Doucette sibling to attend the Academy. Time will tell if the draw of MMA extends to the next generation.

Like Daughter, Like Father – The Brain Family
David Brain ’18, PR’17 is no stranger to hard work. The father of three started off in the Air Force, where he served as an avionics technician on the B-1 bomber. Later, he put those skills to use for a civilian contractor, working on helicopters returning from Desert Storm. He also spent time in the car business and even in the world of mortgage banking. Most recently, he was a security officer at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station. While he liked his job, David still felt like he had not found his calling. “I always had cool jobs making good money, but when I took the job as a security officer, it was supposed to be temporary,” he says. Six years later, he decided it was time for a change. “All my life I heard about guys who went out to sea for a living and wondered how they got into it,” David adds. Well, his daughter Meaghan figured it out.

David and Meaghan BrainMeaghan Brain ’17 was fascinated by a career at sea. With that in mind she looked into the Academy. “I chose MMA because I thought it offered a great opportunity that differed from other schools,” she says. “Very few colleges in the country offer a marine engineering degree.” Since graduating a year ago, Meaghan has been working at sea and loving it.

David knew he wanted a career change long before Meaghan started at the Academy. When she applied, it got the gears turning for him too. Once she was accepted, David commented that he should go that route as well. “I thought she would say, ‘No way,’ but what she actually said was, ‘Yeah, you should,’” David recalls. Before he had a chance to drag his feet, David met with Admissions and worked out a road map. He taught himself algebra and took a few prerequisites at a local college, and the rest is history.

So what is it like to go to college with your daughter? David says it was awesome. “Sadly, we only had one class together, but we got to work on that class project together,” he says. Since they shared the same major, David was able to inherit Meaghan’s books (and notes!), for which he was very grateful. They also understood what the other was going through and could be supportive during tough times. “At first I thought she’d be embarrassed, but any time she saw me it was like any other day — she called out, ‘Hey, Dad. Love you,’” David says.

The Brains receive many different reactions when people learn that Meaghan landed at the Academy first, but the overall response has been positive. “I get kids asking me if I’m trying to recapture my youth; adults wonder how I do it,” David says. Ultimately, though, David hopes that others learn from them. “It’s never too late, you’re never too old, and nobody can tell you what you can and can’t accomplish,” he says. “If you want [something] bad enough, if you will it to happen, it will.” That’s exactly what David and Meaghan did, and now they will both be fulfilling their separate dreams of going to sea.