Graduating Cadets Urged to Establish Roots

Class of 2018 walking in rain to commencement

Close to 400 cadets crossed the stage Saturday to receive their diplomas at Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s 175th commencement exercises. Enthusiastic families and friends gathered under tents to dodge raindrops, watch the ceremony and cheer on the graduating cadets. “Even though everyone feels like it’s their end of career at Mass Maritime ... like Winston Churchill said, ‘It’s really just the end of the beginning,’” said Rear Adm. Francis X. McDonald, academy president. “For all these young people that worked so hard, it’s the end of a chapter as they now go forward, and it’s exciting.” 

Joining the class of 2018 with honorary degrees were shipping entrepreneur Dr. James S.C. Chao, Air Force Gen. Darren W. McDew, former MMA Board Chairman Wayne E. Mattson and Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. Polito noted that MMA is critical to putting people with innovation and life sciences talent directly into the state’s workforce, which in return boosts the economy. She asked the graduates to take what they learned at MMA and keep it home in the state of Massachusetts. “It’s all about bringing it home, staying in Massachusetts, using their talent to fill the jobs that are growing here in the commonwealth, and more importantly, to dig their roots deeply into the communities of this commonwealth and to continue to grow stronger communities for the future of our state,” Polito said.

At the ceremony, she asked the graduates to make the community where they grew up or some other place in Massachusetts even better than it is today. Whether that means voting or signing up for the local board of selectman, she said, “Establishing deep roots is a real commitment.” Founded in 1891 as the Massachusetts Nautical Training School, the school began as floating maritime trade school housed aboard the USS Enterprise docked in Boston Harbor. 

The school moved to Hyannis Harbor in 1942, assuming its present name, and by 1946, was authorized to grant the bachelor of science degree. During its 127-year history, MMA has grown from an initial class of 40 cadets to a fully accredited, co-educational college offering undergraduate and graduate degrees, enrolling more than 1,600 students. This year marks the largest graduating class so far, according to McDonald, and another year as one of the top colleges in the nation for return on investment. In addition, the school has close to 20 members of the Class of 2018 who will be accepting commissions in the U.S. Armed Forces, including the Navy, Navy Reserve, Army, Coast Guard and Marine Corps. As leader of the U.S. 

Transportation Command, General McDew told the graduating class that the nation needs every young mariner it can get. “I can tell you with great conviction that our nation needs you now more than ever in our history,” he said. 

“It’s not where you come from — although Mass Maritime is a great place to be from — it’s about where you are determined to go,” McDew said. “It is about your character and what you allow to guide you. It’s about character, ability to dream and the ability to see possibilities that no one else can see. “To each and every one of you I wish you fair winds and following seas and a great Buccaneer day.”

Originally posted by the Cape Cod Times
By Beth Treffeisen
btreffeisen@capecodonline.com 
Twitter: @BTrefeisenCCT

CCT Photo Gallery by Steve Heaslip