GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — A guaranteed sight on Texas A&M University at Galveston’s campus is students in Navy-issued khaki uniforms.
The Galveston County Daily News reports this year, 579 of the students on the Pelican Island campus participate in the Texas A&M Maritime Academy and the Corps of Cadets.
The Maritime Academy’s mission is to provide Texas and the United States with highly trained, U.S. Coast Guard licensed merchant officers to serve on ocean and inland waterways vessels, according to its website. The Corps of Cadets is part of the academy and its mission is developing character and leadership, members said.
The Corps of Cadets began in 1962 at Texas A&M in College Station. A year later, the program began on the Galveston campus, which was a year after the campus was founded.
The goal of the program is to develop disciplined young adults who are ready to take on any job thrown at them, officials said.
Midshipman Caitlin Bezecny, a senior, is a merchant marine major pursuing a license in both Navy and merchant marine options.
A license allows merchant mariners to be a third mate for a ship.
“By the time you’re done with the program, you may be young, but you are a highly trained professional,” Bezecny said. “You can take responsibility for actions, people’s lives and billions of dollars of cargo.”
Bezecny is the chief of staff for the Corps of Cadets, which is just one leadership role available to a cadet. After freshman year, cadets are allowed to apply for various positions to expand their roles in the programs.
Some of those positions include division officer, executive officer and commanding officer.
Every Wednesday, cadets in the program have to meet at 5:45 a.m. for physical training and are required to attend formations every day at 7:15 a.m. Although classes vary, many Maritime Academy classes begin at 8 a.m. Underclassmen have to participate in three hours of study hall every evening with a curfew at 10:30 p.m.
Learning to balance and multitask is a talent and skill cadets must master, Bezecny said.
Even if the perfect job is not on the horizon for cadets, many of them would not do college any other way, they said.