On a rainy day in May, 230 graduates at SUNY Maritime College’s commencement ceremony were encouraged to take risks, embrace failure and leave their comfort zones.
Angeliki Frangou, chairman and CEO of the Navios Group, applauded the students for the leadership skills, discipline and real-world experience they gained in their time at the college. She was also awarded an honorary doctor of science degree from the State University of New York.
“SUNY Maritime prepares you for a successful life. After four years, you may take for granted this education but consider for a moment how small the number is of institutions that teach personal responsibility and discipline,” Frangou said. “You have learned that if you don’t show up at the correct time, you miss out. You have learned the value of teamwork and you have learned about leadership, which is the sum of your core values.”
Frangou is internationally recognized as a leader in the maritime world. A fifth generation ship owner, her company is a global maritime consortium that controls 170 vessels and holds a majority stake in a South American logistics company that includes a port/storage facility, and a barge and cabotage business.
Beyond the company’s importance to the maritime industry, Frangou recognized the importance of SUNY Maritime to her company. Her brother, John Frangos, earned a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from the college in 1985 and 1987, respectively. Also, Ted Petrone, the vice chairman of Navios Corp., also graduated from SUNY Maritime in 1977.
“SUNY Maritime is a very special place for me, for my family and for my Navios,” Frangou said. “I have worked with Ted for many years and if SUNY Maritime is still producing this kind of graduate, you are doing a very good job.”
Of the 230 graduates, 196 received undergraduate degrees and 34 earned their master’s degrees. More than 150 of the graduates also earned their U.S. Coast Guard licenses, which qualify them to work on board commercial vessels as third mates or third assistant engineers.
“Some of you soon will be sailing on your deck or engine license for the first time,” said Rear Adm. Michael Alfultis, president of the college. “Some will be working in other areas of the maritime industry, others may be pursuing other opportunities outside the maritime industry, and some of you have elected to serve in the armed forces.”
The day before commencement, 17 students received their commissions into the U.S. Navy. Of them, a dozen will join the Naval Reserves as strategic sealift officers and the rest will become submarine warfare officers.
“There is no growth without error. You will grow to your full potential only if courageously you stretch yourself well beyond your comfort zone,” Frangou said. “Be adventurous. Take risks, fail and try again. It is not how many times you fail but how many times you get up.”