KINGS POINT, N.Y., June 19, 2019 - The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) at Kings Point conducted its 83rd commencement exercises Saturday, graduating 200 new Merchant Marine and Military Officers in the Class of 2019.
The keynote speaker, Dr. Peter Navarro, advisor to the President, and Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy delivered an inspiring message before a crowd of about 3,000. The audience included family members and guests of the graduating class, distinguished visitors representing the federal government, senior officers from the U.S. military, executives from the maritime industry, community leaders, alumni, faculty and staff.
“We were honored to welcome the distinguished Harvard economist, Dr. Peter Navarro to Kings Point for the graduation of the Class of 2019,” said Rear Adm. Jack J. Buono, 13th Superintendent of the Academy. “He is a key policy advocate and supporter of the maritime industry and its contributions to the economic prosperity and national security of our nation.”
In his remarks to the class Buono challenged the graduates to embrace hard work, seek out tough jobs and to do them well, as the long line of Kings Pointers that came before them have done. “We have high hopes for you,” said Buono. “Remember, we deliver!”
In a bit of a break from tradition, Buono turned the tables on the cheering families and friends in the stadium. He had the graduating class stand and turn to face the crowd. He told the graduating Class, “This is your support structure. They have been here for you since you arrived, they are here from you now, and they will be there for you in the future. Join me in honoring them.” Then, in a moment that won’t soon be forgotten by those in attendance, Buono and the Class of 2019 saluted the cheering crowd before them.
Distinguished alumnus speaker, Captain Donald Marcus, President of the International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots (MM&P), Class of 1979, spoke with passion about the role and the importance of the shipping industry. He also took a few moments to share some thoughts on respect as an industry benchmark.
In a pre-ceremony release, Buono commented, “We are proud to welcome Captain Marcus back to Kings Point in this the 40th anniversary of his graduation from USMMA. His experience at sea and ashore, and his relentless advocacy for mariners over the course of his career makes him a prime example of our motto, Acta Non Verba.”
Valedictorian Benjamin D. Starr, who teasingly introduced himself as being from Phoenix, Az., “a place with a rich and distinguished maritime history,” spoke of the exceptional nature of the Class of 2019. “I don’t stand here before you because of any individual accomplishment, nor for any exceptional nature, but for the multitude of support from my friends, classmates and all of your exceptionality,” Starr told the class. Then the recipient of a 3.988 cumulative grade point average proceeded to recognize individual classmates and to relate the stories and the accomplishments of the Class of 2019.
Class President Charlie Hughes, of Cockeysville, Md., was presented the first ever Superintendent’s Acta Non Verba award for superior performance in all four of the Academy pillars. He then reflected on what the journey of the class and the legacy they will leave behind meant to him. “The long, grueling four years is what distinguishes a Kings Pointer from a traditional college graduate,” said Hughes. “Kings Point has been a wonderful experience and I’m sad it is coming to an end.”
This year’s graduating class included midshipmen from nearly every state. Additionally, 111 earned Deck licenses, 89 earned Engineering licenses, and about 70 in the class entered active duty in one of the military branches. USMMA also honored two graduate students with the Master of Science degree in Marine Engineering during the commencement exercises.
Each congressionally-nominated graduate received a Bachelor of Science Degree and an unlimited merchant marine officer license from the United States Coast Guard, and an Officer’s Commission in the U.S. Navy or other branch of the military. In exchange for their education each has the option of sailing as a Merchant Marine Officer while serving in the reserves of any branch of the U.S. military, or serving on active military duty.
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.
On the web: U.S. Merchant Marine Academy
On Facebook: @USMMAOfficial
On Twitter: @USMMAo