The 6th Annual Bahamas Maritime Cadet Corps (BMCC) Abaco Graduation Ceremony was held at the Spinnaker Restaurant on June 3. The theme was: “Seafarers Sailing to New Horizons.”
There were 15 graduates in total: Terran Strachan, Forest Heights Academy (FHA); Elliott DeGregory, FHA; Geneva Thomas, Abaco Central High School (ACH); Kingsley Alce (ACH); Dre Hepburn, Wesley College); Marvin Storr, Wesley College); Mallik Lewis, S.C. Bootle High School (SBH); Laquant Russell (SBH); Johnny Auguste (SBH); Keeon Daziel (SBH); Agwell Francois (SBH); Sandlee Brutus (SBH); Tray Curry (SBH); Stafanna Kemp (SBH); and Lenisse Merlien (SBH).
Kimberly Butterfield served as moderator, and was assisted by Cadets Terran Strachan and Stefanna Kemp, who led in the prayer and welcome, respectively.
BMCC Abaco Coordinator, Glender Knowles, shared how appreciative students were after receiving scholarships and career opportunities based on their participation in program.
“This is not a hobby, but a career opportunity,” she said of BMCC.
Cadet Dre Hepburn shared his experience of being in the program before remarks were made by Troy Mills, Abaco BMCC instructor. Mills spoke about being able to successfully complete two manuals in the course of the year. He challenged the graduates to think globally as they venture into the maritime field, while emphasizing the development of character, and the ability of the classroom environment to transform the minds of students.
The next speaker was Cindy Armbrister, a longtime Bahamian educator, advocate and author. She had the opportunity as a mother and educator to experience the maritime industry, and she affirmed that it is a lucrative industry. She applauded the students for choosing a maritime career with the world being a global village, and the role of The Bahamas in expanding its maritime culture.
Armbrister also encouraged them to follow their dreams by sharing her personal story of the tragic loss of her husband and having to pursue her tertiary education as a single mother. While they could expect to encounter any number of challenges in life, she admonished the students to put God in their decisions and to believe that they would be successful in the end.
The final speaker was Anthony Hanna, one of the founding members of the BMCC program. He gave a brief history of the program, before introducing his topic: “Character Counts.” Hanna explained that his remarks would extend beyond the maritime industry to life itself as he cited six pillars that would build character through integrity. They were trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.
“When you improve your character, you improve yourself,” Hanna assured.
Knowles called on Ishmael Morley of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture to distribute certificates of completion to the graduates. Hanna returned to give the graduates their plaques as well as stipends earned for consistent attendance.
Dre Hepburn was awarded the Clyde Bethel Award for the BMCC Class of 2015, and he received a $5,000 partial scholarship to attend Holland College on Prince Edward Island from July 6 to Sept. 27.
“The $5,000 scholarship was a surprise, but I’m glad I will get the opportunity to go to Canada,” Dre shared. “The program was a wonderful experience because I met many people, and I learned a lot.”