The Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA) Class of 2019 raised their anchors and set course from Taylor's Point to new waters Saturday, following a ceremony of parting words, praise and encouragement.
Almost 400 white-uniformed undergraduates and about 40 black-robed master’s students sat in the late morning sunlight off the starboard side of the T.S. Kennedy to receive their degrees. Behind them, friends and family cheered from beneath a large white tent. “Class of ’19, on this special day you can and should be very proud of what you have accomplished as individuals and as shipmates,” said Francis X. McDonald, president of MMA.“The commitment which it takes to accomplish what you all have accomplished, cannot be overstated.”
Senator Edward J. Markey gave the commencement address in which he announced that $300 million in federal funding had been secured to replace the more than 50-year-old Kennedy with a new vessel. The Kennedy has been used for more than just training students over the years. The ship was activated for Desert Storm in 1991, and for relief efforts during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The new vessel will be funded as a national security investment and is expected to be available in four years.
“Massachusetts nautical history of new horizons remains unbroken,” Mr. Markey said, “and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy is the crown jewel of Maritime excellence. Whether you were drawn here with dreams of high seas adventures, or a commitment to protecting the environment or the goal of serving great in our armed forces, you are now forever a part of a sacred society that carries the banner of sail and wind and sea and surge,” he said.
Among the honorary degree recipients at the ceremony were Senator Markey and Coast Guard Admiral Karl L. Shultz. “You have lived up to the MMA motto of discipline, knowledge and leadership,” said Mr. Schultz said to the Class of 2019. “Now, you are ready to serve as honorable mariners.”
Leanne M. Rossi and Alec M. Schenning were co-valedictorians of the Class of 2019.