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U.S. Merchant Marine Academy holds 82nd commencement

Graduates send their caps skyward during the U.S.

Graduates send their caps skyward during the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy commencement ceremony in Kings Point on Saturday, June 16, 2018. Credit: Barry Sloan

The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy held its 82nd commencement Saturday at the Kings Point campus.

Number of graduates

191: 187 bachelor of science degrees; four master of science degrees

Academy superintendent

Rear Adm. James A. Helis, who will soon be leaving USMMA for a senior position at the federal agency that oversees the school, told students: “You must have the conviction and the courage to always choose the harder right over the easier wrong — to exemplify the values of respect, honor and service.”

Student speakers

Valedictorian Matthew Thomas Pari, a marine engineering systems major from Sarasota, Florida, offered six pieces of advice to his fellow classmates including “get angry and get over it” and “provide consistent leadership.” He also cautioned, “Remember, merely graduating from here does not make any of us great. We are not successful — yet.

Class President Christian Robert Wittendorf, of Granger, Indiana, a logistics and intermodal transportation major, said, “Never forget this moment . . . Our future, it has begun.”

— James T. Madore


Samantha E. Drake, 22, logistics & intermodal transport

“The first time that I went to sea, I knew this is what I want to do,” said Drake, of Centereach. She said she hopes to follow sister Alexandria, also a USMMA graduate, in working on oil tankers.

DeVar Jones, 23, marine engineering

“I hope to go back to school and get my MBA and then to work on the business side of the [maritime] industry,” said Jones, of Albany.

Matthew Nicholas Amoscato, 23, engineering & shipyard management

“I’ve been around and on boats all my life,” said Amoscato, of Rocky Point, an honors graduate. “I plan on becoming a Navy aviator.”

Tyler J. Hartman, 22, logistics & intermodal transport

“9/11 really affected me even though I was very young . . . I wanted to go into the military,” said Hartman, of St. George, Utah, an honors graduate. “I’m going to flight school and plan to be an Air Force pilot.”

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