Originally published in Castine Patriot, May 11, 2023
80th MMA graduation sees 223 awarded degrees
Sen. Collins lauds Maine Maritime Academy
Elizabeth MacArthur, left, who graduated magna cum laude with a degree in international business and logistics, stands with her father, Captain Gordon “Mac” MacArthur, Master of T/S State of Maine, who conferred the degree to his daughter in a wonderful family and Castine moment.
by Nat Barrows
The sun shone, the crowds gathered, the George Stevens Academy jazz combo Deep Space played, the faculty and students came in a procession, the speakers spoke, the sirens and horns of the Castine Fire Rescue Department blared and the hats flew as 223 students received their diplomas at Maine Maritime Academy’s 80th graduation ceremony on May 6.
Of the 223 graduates, 11 were commissioned as Naval Officers through the NROTC program, and 140 took the U.S. Coast Guard Oath.
Families and friends came from around the country and the world to watch and cheer their graduates, who come from 23 states and three countries—Mexico, Italy and Germany. There were five local graduates: Elisabeth MacArthur, Kathryn Kana and Zander Parker of Castine; MacKenzie Tapley of Brooksville; and Eric Mote of Blue Hill.
In his introduction of Sen. Susan Collins before she gave her commencement address, MMA President Jerald Paul lauded her for her work in securing $300 million in funding for the academy’s brand-new training vessel now under construction in Philadelphia. He also recognized Collins for getting Castine listed as home port on the vessel’s stern.
Paul said that as a senator, Collins is only the second woman in history to be reelected five times, and she holds the record for the most consecutive roll call votes while serving in the Senate. Paul cited Collins’ national reputation as a person who “works across party lines.”
During her remarks, Collins spoke with pride about Maine’s maritime heritage and how she sees Castine and the academy as special places that continue this heritage. She also spoke about how she worked to ensure that the academy gets funding for the pier improvement necessary to handle the new vessel.
The senator said that MMA is “a small campus with a worldwide impact.” She went on to say, according to a press release, “From the urgent need for merchant mariners during World War II to the 21st century challenges of national security, the global economy, science, technology, energy, and the environment, [MMA] graduates have always risen to the challenge. Graduates, from the moment you decided to enroll at the Academy, you charted a challenging course. You knew that this is a place of intellectual rigor, of character, of high expectations and stiff competition.”
Speaking of her pride for MMA, Collins concluded by telling those gathered, “May you always have fair winds and following seas.”
In his general remarks, Paul told the audience about how he sees the academy “on a rise,” with a “collective effort” that values “service over self.” He cited the academy’s greater fiscal strength while acknowledging the “shared healing” that took place after five students were killed in a car crash.
After the ceremonies, the capacity crowd filed out through the many open doors to a full sunny day with temperatures in the 70s. In an offhand remark, an academy staffer with many decades of service said she had “never seen it better.”
In her invocation, the Rev. Andi Lloyd said in part, “As we gather here in this moment of stillness, we reflect with gratitude on everything and everyone who made this day possible.
“For these students, here on the cusp of graduation—for their passion and their perseverance, for standing with one another in times of joy and times of grief, for their hopes and for their dreams: we give thanks.”
The complete text of Lloyd’s invocation accompanies this story.