Usually an expression of extreme surprise – often heard on campus.  This W.O.W was different. This one refers to the 10th annual Women On the Water Conference in partnership with MARAD and hosted by Maine Maritime Academy in Castine, Maine. Over one hundred cadets hailing from the six maritime academies, the U. S. Merchant Marine Academy and six Canadian institutions attended the three-day convention.

In recent memory, maritime employment for women was restricted to housekeeping and steward positions on passenger vessels and private yachts. This conference brought cadets from state maritime academies and midshipmen from the United States Merchant Marine Academy together with professional women and men who are leaders in various areas of the maritime world of work.

The gathering was all about networking, learning what’s new and exciting in waterborne commerce and hearing from some high placed, successful women who have made it!  Among the speakers featured at the conference were: MARAD Administrator Rear Adm. Mark H. Buzby (USN Ret.); Capt. Elisabeth Pepper, (USCG Ret.), former commanding officer, U.S. Coast Guard Legal Service; and Captain Deborah Dempsey (MMA Class of 1976.)

1/C Jacqualynn Devore was one of the ten female cadets who represented Massachusetts Maritime Academy along with three staff members.  Devore, the highest ranking cadet and top GPA female marine engineer, noted, “The Women on the Water Conference really broadened my view of the opportunities available after passing licensing exams and graduation.  This conference expanded networking opportunities on a global level.  I believe the most important impact it had was unearthing mentorships that we were able to find and hopefully keep.  With mentors like these, our opportunities are endless.”  This cadet is a 2015 graduate of Grassfield High School, Chesapeake, VA, and a MMA Marine Engineering major and International Maritime Business minor.

Although she aspires to be a Port Engineer for the U. S. Navy, the W.O.W. Conference helped Devore realize that her post grad placement choices are endless.  The role of woman working on the water has expanded into countless new opportunities and directions.  Exponentially, to be sure!