Nearly 130 graduate from Maritime

Monday, January 30, 2017

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Nearly 130 graduate from Maritime

Nearly 130 students received their degrees in January from SUNY Maritime College. Of those, nearly 80 also received their U.S. Coast Guard licenses.

More than 40 received master's degrees.

Three received commissions into the U.S. Navy.

Before they walked across the stage, the graduates were addressed by one of their own – valedictorian Eric Isaksen, who graduated with a degree in Marine Transportation and a Coast Guard third mate license. Licenses qualify men and women to work and sail on board commercial vessels and do not require military service.

“This ceremony signifies our transition from students and cadets to industry professionals and third mates or assistant engineers,” Isaksen said. “An important chapter of our lives is closing, but the beginning of an exciting, challenging and uncharted one is just beginning.

“Although I am sure that starting our careers will be daunting, I remain comforted that we all have a support network of close-knit alumni and graduates who helped us succeed in the past and will help us succeed in the future.”

Capt. Brian McAllister ’56, chairman of McAllister Towing and Transportation addressed the new graduates, their friends and families during the ceremony. The college and the State University of New York also awarded him an honorary doctoral degree.

“I didn’t walk in my graduation ceremony,” he said. “I thank Maritime College, SUNY and the college board of trustees for allowing me to participate in this graduation and become a member of the class of 2017.”

McAllister has been at the helm of his family’s 150-year-old towing business for more than 40 years. During his address to the graduates, he said there were three things that helped him achieve his goals: a good education, a willingness to try new things and find his own path, and luck.

“I remember being on this campus 50 years ago when the world was just opening up to me,” he said. “You can’t know what challenges you will face, but you can know that the maritime industry is a close-knit group. It takes a whole crew to run a ship.

“I wish you all exciting voyages, good families, good friends and the luck of the Irish.”

McAllister received a standing ovation after his address.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. also spoke to those at the ceremony. Diaz has been president of the Bronx since 2009. Throughout his political career, which began when he was 23 years old, he has been an advocate for working families, fighting for living wages laws and economic development in the borough.

As the child of immigrants, Diaz encouraged people to share their stories to help build understanding and empathy between different kinds of people with different backgrounds and experiences.

“Tell your story and then go out there and serve with a purpose,” he said. “Appreciate your worth and your value and understand that you have all the resources to go out and make a difference.”