The graduates celebrate after their commencement ceremony at Webb Institute...

The graduates celebrate after their commencement ceremony at Webb Institute in Glen Cove on Saturday, June 18, 2016. Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

The Webb Institute held its 120th commencement ceremony Saturday at the college on Glen Cove’s waterfront.

Number of graduates

19, all receiving bachelor’s degrees in naval architecture and marine engineering.

Commencement speaker

Donald T. Bollinger, retired chairman and CEO of Louisiana-based Bollinger Shipyards, told graduates to brace for work in a sometimes unstable industry. “It’s a tough market right now in our marine industry,” he said. “I’ve spent my entire career in the marine industry. I’ve seen it wonderful and I’ve seen it miserable. It’s important you are able to maneuver through those wonderful times and those miserable times, because they will be coming. And whatever career path you think you have in your head now is not where you’re going to end up, because the world is not that clear of a blueprint, and your life is not as perfect as the science you have learned over the past four years.”

Student speaker

Zachary Backas, 22, of Elmhurst, Illinois, talked of the late nights and intense assignments that shaped him and the other 18 graduates, whom he each thanked by name from the podium. “Webb has pushed us, constantly and uncomfortably, over the past four years and it is for this reason that we stand here today stronger and wiser than ever before,” he said. “We have accomplished more than we thought possible, and in the process we have each grown, personally and professionally, into graduates. Having been broken, beaten, and at times completely wrecked by the rigor of Webb, we know both success and failure all too well.”

Student reactions

Kurt Gavel, 21

“What drew me to the school was that it’s such a small community,” said Gavel of Northport. “I’m leaving a family. I made a lot of great friends here that I’ll have forever, I’m sure.”

Kelly O’Brien, 21

“When I was looking at colleges, you had to focus on either the arts or the sciences,” said O’Brien of upstate Boonville. “There was not really much crossover. Here, I get to add an aesthetic aspect to the engineering side of design. I enjoy both.”

T.J. Brackin, 22

“Webb is a collaborative environment instead of competitive,” said Brackin of Bear, Delaware. “We all want to help each other succeed and see each other do well. It’s a tough curriculum, and without all of us there together, it would be impossible.”

Brian Mills, 21

“You’re trapped in the same room with the same 18 people for four years,” said Mills of Sanford, North Carolina. “You really become close. If you need help on a homework assignment, you just look up from your computer and shout, ‘Hey, how did you approach number one?’ ‘Did you take this into account on number three?’ ”

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