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MMA Honors its Best and Brightest

CASTINE, Maine – Maine Maritime Academy honored its best and brightest at its annual Celebration of Achievement on Thursday, Nov. 10. In total, 24 individuals associated with the college were recognized for their outstanding accomplishments.

The event, an ongoing tradition at the college, consists of several recognition ceremonies that are held jointly each year for the purposes of fostering mutual respect, admiration, and inspiration among all honorees. The ceremonies include the college’s Wall of Honor induction, Scheel Scholars and ABS Scholars presentations, and an Excellence in Teaching award. They highlight the interrelationship of alumni professional and civic success, student curiosity and scholarship, and inspired teaching and academic commitment, respectively.

Initiated in 1997, the college’s Wall of Honor was created to recognize alumni, who, through achievements in professional and civic life, have brought honor to themselves and to Maine Maritime Academy. The Wall was established not only to pay tribute to their achievements, but also to allow their success to serve as inspiration to current students and their fellow alumni to strive for personal excellence. The 2011 inductee will join 56 distinguished alumni honorees with a framed photograph and biographical sketch permanently displayed in the college’s Wall of Honor located in the Kresge Room of the Harold Alfond Student Center. Inductees are selected from nominations made at large by alumni and the public. Selection criteria prescribes that candidates be a graduate of Maine Maritime Academy and own, be a president, chief executive officer, or chair of the board of directors of a company; or have been elected to the office of mayor, governor, U.S. House of Representatives or Senate; or have achieved the rank of flag officer in a branch of the military; or have achieved significant prominence or lifetime achievement in a chosen field. Advanced education, professional awards and honors, community service, and voluntary service to Maine Maritime Academy are also considered for selection. The annual selection process is carried out by a committee comprised of members of the Wall of Honor.

This year’s Wall of Honor induction  recognized the career accomplishments of Captain William E. Abbott, MMA Class of 1945, of Belfast, Maine. Abbott was commended for his extensive service to professional seafarers and the people of Maine while serving for more than 50 years as a harbor pilot with the Penobscot Bay and River Pilots Association. As a highly-trained local expert tasked with assisting ships to achieve safe passage to and from port, Abbott mastered coastal navigation without the use of modern marine-based aids, piloted more than 3,000 transits on the Penobscot River, and trained most of the marine pilots currently working in Maine. As an active business professional, Abbott opened the Port of Bar Harbor to cruise ships, piloting the Queen Elizabeth II, and he opened the Ports of Winterport and Eastport to modern commercial shipping. He was instrumental in creating the Penobscot Bay and River Pilotage Commission, known today as the Maine Pilotage Commission. Abbott holds 60 years of service in both the Grand Lodge of Maine – Belfast Masonic Hall, and in the Portland Marine Society. He is a 50-year member of the Belfast Rotary Club.

Maine Maritime Academy honors selected students annually as Henry A. Scheel Scholars, the college’s highest undergraduate academic honor. Awarded to those students who best exemplify intellectual curiosity and academic achievement, the distinction is named in honor of the late Henry A. Scheel, a resident of Rockport, Maine, and a noted naval architect, who expressed his high regard for Maine Maritime Academy by leaving funds to permanently endow scholarships for outstanding students. This year’s 11 recipients were selected for the academic honor by the chairs of the academic departments at the college. They represent the highest standard of achievement within each of the undergraduate majors offered at the college. They were Jeremy M. Bullard, Manhattan, Kan., Marine Biology; Timothy J. DeStefano, Argyle, N.Y., Power Engineering Operations; Angela N. Fouquette, New Gloucester, Maine, Marine Systems Engineering – License Track; Par. A. Hagberg, Eugene, Ore., Marine Engineering Technology; Emmet D. Huber, Peaks Island, Maine, Vessel Operations and Technology; Daris K. Kenter, Kingston, N.H., Marine Science; Calvin M. Klopp, Cape Elizabeth, Maine, Marine Transportation Operations; Chad M. Mills, Millinocket, Maine, Power Engineering Technology; Aaron G. Piet, Sanford, Maine, International Business and Logistics; Thomas S. Whitney, Scarborough, Maine, Marine Systems Engineering – Non-license Track; Mark A. Zwetsloot, Wells, Maine, Marine Engineering Operations.

An academic distinction recognizing the accomplishments of 11 outstanding students and the academic support of a leading U.S. ship classification society, the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), were also be presented at this year’s ceremony. According to ABS, consistent with its role as a leader in marine technology and its position within the maritime industry, the company is committed to supporting maritime education through a global scholarship program. Scholarships are awarded to deserving engineering and naval architecture students at colleges and universities that are recognized as national or international leaders in maritime technical education and research. Candidates for the scholarship opportunity at MMA were selected from those students enrolled in the college’s 5-year marine systems engineering program. Recipients each receive a $10,000.00 scholarship in each of the final two years of their academic career at MMA. They are also provided the opportunity to complete an internship at ABS. They were selected by a committee of MMA engineering faculty and administrators based on their overall grade point average, their classroom and academic leadership, and their intellectual curiosity and growth. This year’s recipients were James E. Belmont, Prescott Valley, Ariz.; Christopher M. Brawn, Winslow, Maine; Kurt J. Gillespie, Holland, Ohio; Christopher J. Keiley, Gloucester, Mass.; Bryce D. Lynn, Waterville, Maine; Andrew D. McHenry, Westford, Mass.; Michael E. McMahon, Gloucester, Mass.; Lucas H. Miller, Belfast, Maine; Thomas M. Morrison, Waldoboro, Maine; Colt M. Stewart, Clarksburg, Pa.; and Daniel H. Woods, Limerick, Maine.

Maine Maritime Academy also presented the sixth annual Excellence in Teaching Award, the college’s highest faculty achievement award. The award designates a member of the college faculty as selected by students and alumni, as the faculty member that best exemplifies proficiency in their field of expertise, and passion for teaching and student learning. This year’s recipient was Adam R. Slazas, Stockton Springs, Maine, assistant professor of marine transportation at MMA.

Slazas holds a B.S. degree from Massachusetts Maritime Academy, and a U. S. Coast Guard license as Master, Steam and Motor Vessels, Unlimited Tonnage. He joined the MMA faculty in 2007 as an assistant professor in the college’s Thompson School of Marine Transportation. During his seagoing career, Slazas sailed in various capacities aboard vessels engaged in petroleum exploration, scientific research, and petroleum and automobile transportation throughout the world. He now shares his more than 23 years of domestic and international shipping experience with future mariners enrolled at the college. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Slazas is currently the marine transportation operations department coordinator, cadet shipping program coordinator, and senior deck training officer participating in the Academy’s annual training cruises.

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