By Sen. Kimberley Rosen
It may be quietly tucked away in the picturesque coastal village of Castine, but Maine Maritime Academy (MMA) is a noticeable force in the world of postsecondary education. With 925 undergraduates this past year, 589 of them from Maine, and 116 full- and part-time faculty, MMA is among the best values in college education in the nation.
In 2014 and 2015, Money magazine named MMA the “Best Public College” and number eight among “Overall Best Colleges.” Since then, the quality of the education there has not waned.
It is not only a great educational value to its students, it is a great place to start a lucrative new career. Each year, the school promotes its job placement goal of “90 percent in 90 days,” and according to a study in U.S. News and World Report, the median starting salary of MMA alumni is more than $70,000 per year.
MMA is a great value because it is affordable. Approximately 80 percent of MMA students recieve need-based scholarship assistance annually; and in 2017, the Harold Alfond Foundation challenged MMA to raise a cumulative total of $2.25 million over three years. The Vision 20|20 campaign raised more than $2.7 million by June of last year. The foundation then granted $750,000 to MMA’s Harold Alfond Engineering Scholarship Fund.
This endowed fund gives preference to Maine residents and first-generation college students who have earned at least a 3.3 high school cumulative grade point average (GPA) and have no final grade below 2.0 (C) in any course. Scholarships are renewable for 8 to 10 consecutive semesters (depending on major) while maintaining a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
The application deadline for admission is March 1 of each year, so students who will begin their senior year in high school this fall should start thinking about staying close to home for school and working toward a career that will allow them to see the world.
Separate from the main campus is the one-year-old Center for Professional Mariner Development in Bucksport. The center specializes in providing high-quality training to people already working in the maritime trades. Many courses are designed to develop or maintain skillsets that are required by international and U.S. Coast Guard regulations; others are highly sought after to provide subject matter expertise in a variety of maritime-related fields.
The center offers introductory courses from Fishing Vessel Safety to advanced curricula, such as Inert Gas Systems and Crude Oil Wash, related to shipboard systems associated with tanker operations. Fast Rescue Boat, where trainees learn to handle and take charge of rescue boats in adverse weather and sea conditions, is a popular hands-on course. The Center began offering tutorial classes for harbor pilot exams this past winter.
Another very exciting development will be in the waters near Castine in the near future. In January, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration authorized the construction of a brand new $300 million training ship for the academy. This means that its students will soon be learning at sea on a state-of-the-art vessel.
Though not often noticed by most Mainers or visitors, MMA provides exceptional educational opportunities right here in Maine.
Republican Sen. Kimberley Rosen of Bucksport represents District 8 in the State Senate.