The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy held its 81st commencement Saturday at the Kings Point campus.

Number of graduates

174: 169 bachelor of science degrees; 5 master of science degrees

Commencement speaker

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told graduates: “You may not always have smooth sailing. But the way forward will always be clear, like a beacon shining from shore to guide you safely home.”

Guest speaker

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) told the students: “Today marks a profound personal accomplishment for each of you . . . but today is also about all the people, past and present, who helped you get here.”

Class president

“You can travel the U.S. or the world and you wouldn’t find a group of men [and] women, like the ones sitting before me today,” said class president Alexander Hughes, an engineering and shipyard management major from upstate Ballston Lake. “This place breeds great people and produces lifelong friends.”

Graduates

Connor Sexton, 22, marine transportation

“I grew up on Lake Erie and I love sailing. I said might as well make it a profession,” said valedictorian Sexton, of Vermilion, Ohio. “I’m glad I accepted my appointment, and I’m looking forward to going out.”

Chris Svatik, 22, logistics and intermodal transportation

“I’ve wanted to go into the military since 9/11 and I didn’t know which service. I want to keep my options open coming here and now I’m going into the Navy,” Svatik, of Dallas, Texas, said.

Stacee Glass, 21, logistics and intermodal transportation

“Nothing worthwhile is ever easy and I’m really glad I came here,” said Glass, of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. “It’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Bridget Quinn, 22, logistics and intermodal transportation

“My whole childhood, I wanted to be a military officer like my father,” Quinn, of Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania, said. “I went out to sea here and I fell in love with it. It was a roller coaster, but it was worthwhile.”