Stephen Kelleher, Jr.

Stephen Kelleher in UniformClass Year: 2018
Major: International Maritime Business
Activities/Positions: Petty Officer, Orientation Squad Leader, Regimental Training and Retention Officer
Internships/Co-ops: Seaside Crossfit, Mersey Maritime Ltd.
Study abroad: Shanghai Maritime University
Experiential learning: Liverpool, England; Sea Term 2015

Stephen Kelleher ’18 has spent a lot of time away from the Academy. During an experiential learning trip to John Moore’s University in Liverpool, England, he explored maritime operations in the U.S., Norway, and the United Kingdom, and also worked with company executives from Mersey Maritime Ltd. Spring semester 2017, he studied abroad at Shanghai Maritime University in China.

What were your top takeaways of the Liverpool trip?
I learned how to adapt to a new environment. By connecting with cadets—we became a very tight-knit group during the trip—I also learned how to effectively include myself in a team of students and use my skills for the group’s greater interest.                                        

What was a memorable moment?
It was eye-opening for me when the plane was taking off from Boston. I felt a blend of excitement, anxiety, and curiosity—and of being on my own. It really resonated with me.

Why is hands-on learning important?
It’s the bridge between what we learn in the classroom and what goes on in the outside world. When you can see the things you are learning in the real world, in motion, it makes connecting the dots easier.

You also studied abroad in China. What was the most challenging part?
One of the biggest questions on my mind was if I could make my lifestyle work in a foreign country. I had developed day-to-day routines at the Academy, and trying to force that in a new environment didn’t work at first. I adapted by accepting the culture and finding resources—new ways to exercise and find healthy foods. I also had to get used to a class structure that placed more responsibility on students to keep up with the work. I became more self-disciplined, and recognized that I shouldn’t try to shape the environment around me, but instead try to shape myself around the environment.

What was a memorable moment?
When I visited the Great Wall of China in Beijing. The grandeur of it blew away all my expectations; it was an epic experience.

Why is study abroad important?
Studying abroad pulls you out of a place you’ve been accustomed to and forces you to change in order to live successfully. While that might sound scary to some people, I would encourage anyone to try it. It will provide opportunities for not only cultural experiences but also personal development.

Any advice for future students?
Take advantage of opportunities, and give your all in any venture you go after. I’ve learned that no matter what I attempt, as long as I give my absolute best, I’ll never regret it—regardless of the outcome.

How would you describe MMA in one word?

What is an interesting cultural difference between China and America?
One interesting difference in culture between China and America is the rich history of China that goes back thousands of years. In China you really get a sense of how deep the historical roots of the country are when you visit some of the ancient monuments that are still standing. While the history of America is extremely compelling as well, the old Chinese empire is something unique and interesting.

Why did you choose to attend MMA?
By my senior year of high school, I had become thoroughly confused about what the next step in my life would be. I knew for sure that I wanted to attend college, but the question remained as to where I would go. Mass. Maritime Academy had been a big part of my life with my father working there, and because of that I knew a lot about what the Academy had to offer. While I knew the Academy would be challenging, I also knew how rewarding it would be. After learning more about all of the great successes graduates have in their professional careers, I made the decision to become a Buccaneer.

How did you choose your major?
I’ve always seen myself as a creative and social person, and I believe the major I chose reflects those qualities. With the International Maritime Business major, I have a lot of freedom about where I can go after graduation. It gives me the chance to build professional relationships with people all over the world. There will always be a need for maritime-related business and it serves a tremendous role in the trade and economic success of most countries.

How would you describe regiment?
The Regiment is the rules and standards set by Massachusetts Maritime Academy for the cadets to follow. It is what people experience when they visit the Academy and see cadets in uniform. It is the reason why cadets stay clean-shaven and maintain short haircuts. The regiment instills in each cadet a sense of professionalism and it is something that we maintain throughout our time at the Academy and beyond.

Why is regiment an important part of the MMA experience?
The Regiment is an important part of the MMA experience because it gives each cadet a new way of life. On the surface, it refers to the rules and standards cadets at the academy must follow but in fact it is much, much more. The Regiment is not only a system cadets should follow at the Academy but also in their lives after graduation. The principles taught by the Regiment, such as taking pride in one’s appearance and always being punctual, help cadets stand out professionally from many of their peers who attended a traditional college. Respecting you elders, following a chain of command and waking up early all make the transition into adulthood much easier and more successful.

How has it helped you evolve?
The Regiment has helped me evolve as not only a student but as a person. The camaraderie at the school has pushed me to work hard and take my studies seriously. It has also helped me to become a more independent and resourceful person.

You serve as Regimental Training and Retention Officer. What does this role entail?
Taking on the role of the Regimental Training and Retention Officer comes with a host of responsibilities. As the TRO, I play a major role in the lives of the students at the Academy and in the lives of those interested in the school. 

What do you bring to the role?
My goal as a leader is to provide a high level of approachability and proactivity. I want to be someone cadets can confide in and go to with any problems they may have. I also plan to not only uphold the high standards set by my predecessors, but also elevate the role itself to a new height.

What’s your advice for incoming students to prepare for regiment?
The advice that I would tell incoming students is that the greatest rewards pose the greatest challenges. Anything worth achieving won’t come easily and neither will their time at the Academy. And however daunting that may sound, I would encourage cadets of all classes to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Every challenge only helps to grow you stronger.