U.S. Merchant Marine Academy

Midshipman Dustin Myers of Merritt Island, Florida, hugs Midshipman Dustin Myers of Merritt Island, Florida, hugs fellow midshipman Alex Snyder of Odenton, MD, after the Merchant Marine graduation. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

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U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Class of 2014

NUMBER OF GRADUATES

225 bachelor's degrees, three master's. Undergraduates received a U.S. Coast Guard merchant mariner license and an officer's commission in the military.

COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER

Vice Adm. Michelle J. Howard, the Navy's deputy chief for operations, plans and strategy

At the ceremony at the academy in Kings Point Saturday, Howard spoke of the global challenges graduates will face as countries vie for control over resources and wars rage in the Middle East. "I see you taking to the waves. You are all comrades in arms, and you are going to serve America's defense and maritime transportation needs in peace and in conflict," Howard said.

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VALEDICTORIAN

Connor B. McGowan, of Stoneham, Massachusetts, midshipman and regimental commander

McGowan told graduates the academy gave them the ability to face stress and taught them how to interact with people in the maritime industry and military. "Our life's purposes can seem ill-defined, and in this way we rely on our own anchors and propellers," he said. "The anchor of Kings Point has guided and set the direction of our lives in ways we will never fully see until those opportunities pass. The Kings Point propeller gave us . . . skill sets and technical expertise."

Andrew Baransky, 21, logistics and intermodal transportation

"I saw there's a lot more opportunity for advancement in private industry than in the Navy," said the Dix Hills resident, who had considered enlisting in the Navy. "I'm going to try to go to work in the Gulf of Mexico in oil and gas, either on the supply vessels or on the rigs."

Colleen Danus, 23, engineering and shipyard management

"I fell in love with engineering," said Danus, of Spencerville, Maryland, who said her next move is to work on a research vessel for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "I went out to sea and I really liked it . . . We've prepared for more life situations than you realize."

Patrick Clarke, 22, logistics and intermodal transportation

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"I came to the school because I really wanted to have a good education and I wanted to travel the world," said Clarke, who is from Tampa, Florida. "And serving my country is a good plus."

Arthur Bailey, 22, marine engineering systems

"I didn't think I was going to make it, but I pushed through with the help of my friends and now I'm going to go out on a ship and have a good time," said Bailey, of Toms River, New Jersey.

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