Under clear skies and with fair winds, Maine Maritime Academy held commencement ceremonies on May 4 for 196 graduates. As the “Star Spangled Banner” faded, Dean of College John Barlow welcomed over 1,700 students, family and community members. Professor Emeritus Sarah Hudson offered a moment of reflection: “You’re leaving the time when it’s all about you…now it’s time to give back to society…Success only happens with the help of others.”
Those words were reinforced by MMA President William Brennan, who urged graduates to “Pay it forward by lending a hand to those who come behind you.”
Governor Paul LePage, in his commencement address, also echoed that theme.
LePage drew on his personal history as an 11-year-old runaway who “ran into some good people” and eventually graduated from Husson College.
“To succeed you need mentors,” he said. “It was the staff and faculty of Husson College who made me the man I am today.”
He repeated a phrase of “10 two-letter words” several times: “If it is to be, it’s up to me.” Those words were “how I was able to capture the American dream.”
This phrase does not mean “you go at it alone,” he said, but with the “support and encouragement from those around you.”
He advised the graduates to “look for these individuals and cultivate these relationships that will be with you for the rest of your lives.”
“Be honest, don’t cut corners to try to get ahead…don’t burn bridges…and most importantly, be persistent,” LePage said.
“Dream big, reach for the impossible and help create a Maine that is better in the future.”
Robert J. Peacock II, Class of 1971 and Chairman of the Board of Trustees drew a contrast between MMA’s first graduating class of 1943, who left the academy not knowing if they would lose a limb or their life, to the current class, where seven graduates are entering military service.
Commandant of Midshipmen Nate Gandy then released his students from regimental duties.
Local graduates in 2013 were scarce. Lance Burton of Castine was one of 12 awarded Master of Science degrees, as was Anthony Scott Miller of Bucksport. Brian Ross Sheehan of Bucksport earned a Bachelor of Science degree. Dale Arlington Thomas III of Hampden was Valedictorian.
“MMA has done its job, now the rest is up to you,” LePage said.