U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Graduates Merchant Marine and Military Officers in Class of 2020
KINGS POINT, N.Y. (June 20, 2020) – Earlier today, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) graduated 206 Licensed Merchant Marine Officers, who will serve our Nation in the U.S. Merchant Marine and Armed Forces.
For the first time, the Academy’s Commencement exercises were held in a semi-virtual format. Academy Superintendent, Rear Admiral Jack Buono acknowledged the unique circumstances, saying, “It may not be the graduation you had hoped for, but we hope it is the graduation you will remember forever.” Adding, “Today you start a new journey to personal greatness, one that will last forever.”
Maritime Administrator, the Honorable Rear Admiral (USN, Ret.) Mark Buzby, encouraged the graduates to lead with dignity and respect. “Make your first task as a leader to ensure that those whom you lead are treated fairly and evenly, without regard to their color or creed. That is my charge to you,” said Buzby.
The ceremony was livestreamed around the world, and included notable virtual messages from; professional athletes, elected officials, leaders of organizations, industry and entertainment, including the 50-year legacy class of 1970 and the USMMA Alumni Association and Foundation.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation, the Honorable Elaine L. Chao, delivered the Commencement address by video, congratulating the class on their perseverance through difficult times and challenges. Mr. Christopher J. Wiernicki, Chairman, President and CEO of American Bureau of Shipping, and Chairman of the ABS Group of Companies, Inc., delivered a compelling story about life and leadership, also by video. Rounding out the special virtual guests was the Distinguished Alumnus Speaker, Mr. Brian Coyne, Managing Director of KPI Bridge Oil in the Americas, and a graduate of the Class of 2000.
Valedictorian Robert J. Gaines, from Athol, Idaho, spoke to the Class. The Kings Point Scholar who graduated with an impressive 3.865 GPA, told his classmates, “you will be leaders of women and men. You will hold positions of influence, whether at sea, ashore, or in the air, and that influence will only grow over time. By enduring the crucible of Kings Point to this moment, you, by necessity, possess the foundations of exceptional leadership. You are now expected to be leaders. And you will answer the call. It is who we are as Kings Pointers.”
Class President Patrick Hume, of Windham, N.H., reflected on the Academy’s history and motto, “Acta Non Verba, ‘deeds not words,’ a motto so powerfully instilled in every person who has come and gone through these gates. And of course every Midshipman is taught about the 142 Cadet-Midshipmen who died at sea during World War II, a constant reminder that the people who come here are here to serve the nation no matter the cost.” He added, “these lessons kept us humble and true throughout our 3 years, 11 months, and 23 days at the Academy.”
Each of the graduates received a Bachelor of Science Degree, a Merchant Marine Officer License, from the U.S. Coast Guard, and an Officer Commission in the U.S. Military. Unlike graduates of other federal academies, USMMA graduates have the option of serving as reserve officers while working aboard U.S. Flag vessels, or serving on active duty in any of the Armed Forces. This year, 82 from the graduating class will serve on active military duty and the remainder will serve as professional merchant mariners and reservists. This year’s graduates represent 37 states and the Republic of Panama.
The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, located in Kings Point, N.Y, educates and graduates leaders of exemplary character who are inspired to serve the national security, marine transportation, and economic needs of the United States as licensed Merchant Marine Officers and commissioned officers in the Armed Forces. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the Academy, which was established under the Merchant Marine Act of 1936, as the United States Merchant Marine Academy in 1943. It is administered by the Maritime Administration under the auspices of the Department of Transportation.
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