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U.S. Merchant Marine Academy 2015 commencement

Students cheer for classmates as 227 future Merchant

Students cheer for classmates as 227 future Merchant Marine and military officers graduate from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy during the 79th Commencement exercises held on the campus in Kings Point, Saturday, June 20, 2015. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

Number of graduates
227 bachelor of science degrees, four master's.

Commencement speaker
Maritime Administrator Paul N. Jaenichen Sr. addressed graduates at Saturday's ceremony in Kings Point, stressing the importance to the nation of the merchant marine's economic, security and support services. "You will fail at some point," he said. "That failure can hurt, it can demoralize you and it can demotivate you. If you let it, it can also teach you and you can overcome it."

Valedictorian
Michael Francis, a marine engineering major from Somerville, New Jersey, encouraged students to reflect on their experiences at the school while looking positively into the future. "The best cure for worry is action, no sea is too rough and sometimes in life, to get the thing you want most, you have to give up everything else," he said. "We have invested ourselves entirely in this school and have earned our success."

Class president
Dan Saldana, a marine transportation major from Tamuning, Guam, served four years as class president. "This place has taught us valuable life skills, such as time management," he said, joking about learning to fit a nap into his schedule. "Kings Point has also taught us that we are capable of much more than we can imagine."

Diane Kalladeen, 21, logistics and intermodal transportation
"It's a cheaper alternative for school," Kalladeen of Deer Park, who plans to enter the Navy Reserve, said of choosing a military school. "And it's a good opportunity later on after college."

Lynae Harvey, 24, logistics and intermodal transportation
"I knew I wanted to be a deck officer, but I didn't know if I would want to sail for the rest of my life," the Denver resident said, noting that she picked a major that "I could easily . . . transfer to a civilian life."

Kyle Yong, 22, marine engineering
"Being an engineer seemed kind of like an elusive concept to me," said Yong, of Palm Beach, Florida, adding that he will work with tugboats for Kirby Inland Marine. "I also felt that I needed to attack that opportunity and prove myself wrong."

Raymond Sproull, 22, logistics and intermodal transportation
"I wanted to go active duty at first, serve the country, and then I found out about sailing," said the Pasadena, California, native, who also has an interest in business. "You can still serve and make that a way of doing it."

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