LJM Maritime Academy graduates awarded Royal Caribbean International scholarships
Shante Pearson and Tre’von Ferguson, recent graduates of the LJM (Lowell Jason Mortimer) Maritime Academy, were the recipients of full-tuition scholarships to the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) through a pledge by Royal Caribbean International (RCI) and the American Caribbean Maritime Foundation.
The duo, part of the 12-student cohort and first graduating class of the LJM Maritime Academy, completed a three-year diploma program at the academy with one of the requirements being a year at sea. They will now attend CMU in Port Royal, Kingston, Jamaica, for another two years to complete a bachelor’s degree in maritime transportation.
Pearson, whose father is a product of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, said she has always been on boats, and as a result always wanted to have a career on the sea. She said the scholarship provides her with the opportunity to finish her career and make it to the ultimate goal – to captain a cruise ship.
Ferguson recalled an early attraction to the sea instilled in him by his late uncle, who was a fisherman, and longingly looking out at ships pulling in and out of the Grand Bahama Container Port whenever he would accompany his mother to her office.
Pearson and Ferguson were awarded their scholarships during a ceremony onboard the world’s largest cruise ship, the Symphony of the Seas, while it was docked in Nassau Harbour.
Ferguson, who got a chance to sit in the captain’s chair during a behind-the-scenes tour of the ship, said he felt tremendous pressure while sitting in the chair, but he was looking forward to feeling that pressure someday.
Greg Purdy, Royal Caribbean International senior vice president of marine operations, said they have a real commitment to people.
“With our relationship and partnership with the wider Caribbean and specifically with The Bahamas, we see that we need to make significant investments to also make The Bahamas and Caribbean a part of that future picture. We have a great amount of respect for maritime professionals in the company, and we really want to do all we can to support maritime professionals.”
The American Caribbean Maritime Foundation (ACMF), headed by President and Executive Director Dr. Geneive Brown Metzger, exists to support the work of the Caribbean Maritime University. Activities are focused on raising funds for scholarships, equipment, facilities and infrastructure, including classrooms and physical amenities, in addition to supporting the development of the maritime community in which the university is located. The scholarship was the first two of six that will be made available by ACMF.
“We couldn’t have a better partner than Royal. They get the strategic importance of educating the next generation of Caribbean mariners,” said Metzger.
Dr. Brendamae Cleare, LJM Maritime Academy president, said they were grateful to Royal Caribbean for the opportunity for their students to pursue further studies at CMU.
“Thanks also to the American Caribbean Maritime Foundation. They were the ones who actually contacted us initially to make sure that our students could do this, and we are thankful and grateful to them. Our students, although they are the first two, they are the ambassadors of LJM Maritime to CMU, and we know that they will shine.”
Dr. Fritz Pinnock, CMU president, shared the impact of relationships between the entities that he said would go a long way to assist in increasing employment of people in the Caribbean.
“The Caribbean host[s] almost 40 percent of the world’s cruise deployment and yet less than seven percent of employment, so I’m really happy for this opportunity with Royal Caribbean because it now gives an amazing opportunity for Caribbean people to be moving up to the levels of captains and chief engineers.”
Purdy said, at Royal Caribbean, one of the things they are most proud of is their ability to award scholarships.
“We award scholarships to both LJM Maritime Academy and to CMU, and we’d like to thank them both for their partnership. I’m thrilled to be here again to continue supporting maritime efforts. What we are supporting here is job growth in the Caribbean and in The Bahamas.”