Royal Caribbean Cruises has given two recent graduates of the Lowell Jason Mortimer (LJM) Maritime Academy full-tuition scholarships to the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU).
“We have a real commitment to people at Royal Caribbean,” said Greg Purdy, its senior vice-president of marine operations. “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.”
Part of the 12-student strong first graduating class of the LJM Maritime Academy, the two recipients, Shante Pearson and Tre´von Ferguson, were freshly dressed in their uniform whites as they accepted their scholarships.
The students completed a three-year diploma programme 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 bachelors degree in maritime transportation.
The scholarships came from a pledge by Royal Caribbean International (RCI) and the American Caribbean Maritime Foundation. The American Caribbean Maritime Foundation (ACMF), headed by Dr Geneive Brown-Metzger, exists to support the work of the Caribbean Maritime University with activities focused on raising funds for scholarships, equipment, facilities and infrastructure.
The scholarship is 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 Dr Metzger.
“This is an historic moment for The Bahamas as well as LJM Maritime Academy. We are grateful to Royal Caribbean for this opportunity for our students to pursue further studies at CMU,” said LJM Maritime Academy president, Dr Brendamae Cleare.
“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.”
Shante Ferguson, one of the scholarship recipients, said: “My father, he is a product of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force. I was always on boats. From then I said that I wanted to have a career on the sea. This scholarship means a lot. It’s an opportunity for me to finish my career and make it to my ultimate goal, which is to be a captain of a cruise ship.”
Tre’von Ferguson recalled the 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 Freeport Container Port whenever he would accompany his mother to her office.
Dr Fritz Pinnock, president of the Caribbean Maritime University, added: “The Caribbean host[s] almost 40 percent of the world’s cruise deployment and yet less than seven percent of employment,” he said.
“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.”
“One thing we are most proud of at Royal Caribbean is our ability to award scholarships,” said Mr Purdy. “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.”