KINGS POINT, NY – March 21, 2015 –Thirty four midshipmen from The United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) attended the Eighth Women on the Water Conference at California Maritime Academy last week.
The annual conference, which is hosted by a different U.S. maritime academy each year in conjunction with the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD), brought together 287 maritime professionals, licensed mariners, professors and maritime academy cadets.
Maritime Administrator Paul N. Jaenichen, Sr. opened the three-day conference, welcoming the audience of mostly women, and thanking the attendees. Later he said, “Maritime leaders across the country are asking a very tough question: “Where will the next generation of trained, highly skilled mariners come from? By my measurement, the answers to this question were sitting in front of me in that room – emerging professionals who are preparing themselves to address these pressing challenges. They are talented scholars who fully understand that a more diverse and inclusive workforce gives rise to a stronger and more prosperous nation. In years to come, we will find new strength, vitality and creative genius within the next generation of women mariners.”
The conference, gave attendees the opportunity to learn about some of the many exciting careers that are available to them at graduation and beyond. They also heard from maritime leaders including Captain Nancy Wagner, Captain Lynn Korwatch, Captain Debbie Dempsey, USMMA Company Officer, Lt. Fionna Boyle, and USMMA Professor of Marine Transportation, Michael Murphy. They also participated in discussions about current issues affecting the maritime industry, with topics ranging from “The Jones Act” to “Leading in the New Global Economy.”
Of the 34 midshipmen attendees from USMMA, half were male. Midshipman 1st Class Rexford Ryman commented on his experience. “I was given the unique opportunity to attend the Annual Women on the Water conference as a male. I received insight into the view points of the women leaders in a setting where they were able to speak freely about their struggles, successes, and advice that was geared toward the next generation of female sailors. The conference may have been directed to the women, but for the men that attended there was a growth in professional development that arose from the different panels and workshops that we attended.”
The Keynote speaker, President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, spoke about her career experiences, how to overcome challenges, taking advantage of opportunities, and giving back.
The midshipman also had fun. Midshipman 2nd Class, Catherine E. Don said, “The WOW Conference was a fantastic experience. Meeting other cadets, and hearing the stories of successful women in the industry was truly inspiring.”
By Veronica Cassidy Barry with contributions from Midshipman 2nd Class, Sara Pisarski, Midshipman PIC, WOW 2016.