Midshipman Nathaniel Walko, US Merchant Marine Academy, returned to his alma mater on Tuesday, November 1st to speak to the 9th Grade Seminar Class 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th & 6th in Mr. Pastore’s room before finishing the day in the collaboration center.
Walko provided insight into what his life is like at the Academy about 20 miles outside of New York City and how his academic schedule is set up. To add, he also told a little bit about preparing for college in the future. He explained that is more beneficial to commit to clubs, volunteering, and activities than just getting good grades. Walko suggested colleges do not want to see that you are just spending all your free time studying but also doing something that you are passionate about too. He also advised the 9th grade to start looking into different volunteering activities and to start thinking about what you want on your resume for college.
His life at college seemed filled with many aspects of hands-on learning. Students are required to have a “sea year” which includes hands-on experience on a U.S. merchant ship. Noticeably he included that some students have even lost their lives on this trip. He stressed that the Merchant Marines are an extension of the US military, but report to the Department of Transportation. Still, a high percentage of graduates can transfer directly into flight school for the Air Force or Navy and gain acceptance, a significant challenge for many in the other military academies.
As for campus life, he specifically told us that he had to get up around 4:00 in the morning for college, partially because he is on the crew team and practices before classes. Connected to his love of the water is a group where they can go boating using the yachts docked at the academy. He explained that graduates often immediately step into high responsibility jobs, overseeing millions of dollars of cargo on ships importing and exporting goods through US waters. Because of that, the academy allows students time with a luxurious yacht as practice for responsibility.
Many students were suprised as well by his comments about first arriving on campus. Walko stated that there were no clocks in classrooms, hallways, or anywhere accessible. He stated this was to instill trust in his officers, a trust he now has in his daily life as a merchant marine