Maritime Studies Brings a Local Student to Williams-Mystic

“At the end of those seventeen weeks, I saw all my classmates as my family. I had never become as close to another group of people the same way I had with them. The community we created must be my favorite part of the experience.”

This post was written by S’18 student and social media intern Audra DeLaney. She is a public relations major and political science minor from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. Audra enjoys visiting the ocean, going on adventures, and telling the unique stories of the people and places around her. If you have any questions about our program, you can email her at aad6@williams.edu.

What happens when your academic advisor has a crazy idea for what you should do your second semester of your freshman year? You take their advice.

University of Connecticut, Avery Point sophomore Sarah Stratton Patulak walked into Dr. Mary K. Bercaw Edwards’ office in the fall of 2016 unsure of what classes she wanted to take in the spring.

“When Mary K. told me about Williams-Mystic I was hooked instantly,” Sarah said. “She kept trying to sell it to me and convince me to apply, and I remember thinking ‘Where do I sign?’”

As a maritime studies and geography double major, Sarah considers herself lucky to have stumbled across the program.

“It gave me a taste of the maritime world, it showed me the diverse options that laid ahead of me in my education,” Sarah said. “To not only see but experience all sides of the very interdisciplinary field was incredibly eye-opening. It also helped solidify that this major was the right track for me to be taking.”

Williams-Mystic brought out a side of herself Sarah had never seen before.

“I saw this both academically but also in a personal sense. I recently re-visited some of the projects and papers from the program and was amazed at the quality of the work I did,” Sarah said. “I was also surprised by how many times I was put outside of my comfort zone, and how well I adapted to those circumstances. The greatest example of this took place during the offshore voyage; I never imagined myself setting sails in the middle of the night during a squall.”

For Sarah, the list of memories from her time in the program is endless.

“Some of my favorite memories come from Albion House. Any memory from sitting in our kitchen is one of my favorites,” Sarah said. “I remember one night we were all totally consumed with some assignment and were all stressed out in our respective work spots. We decided that at 2300 we would all take a break and convene in the kitchen for a 30-minute ice cream break. It ended up being almost an hour and a half and a whole tub of ice cream between the four of us. We just got caught up in conversation and telling funny stories, and it was much-needed comedic relief. It is probably one of my happiest memories.”

Traveling to the Pacific Northwest was Sarah’s favorite field seminar.

“We traveled from Seattle down the coast into Oregon and reflecting on it, it is astonishing to think that it all happened over the span of only eight days. I didn’t think it was possible to learn so much about so many different things in such a short amount of time,” Sarah said. “This field seminar also had the most Van Life time, as well as time together as a whole group. It was really in those hours spent in the back of the vans driving down the Pacific coast that I felt I bonded with my shipmates the most.”

To Sarah, Williams-Mystic is the best decision she has made for herself both academically and personally.

“I lived outside of my comfort zone throughout the semester and I feel like I could do anything because of it. It really taught me that you should say yes to every opportunity you are given because you never know what will become of it. I tell people all the time, Don’t lock doors you haven’t even tried opening yet,” Sarah said. “It also changed the way I look at the ocean. After all my studies I have a deeper understanding and appreciation for the ocean. I could fully live in and with it and explore my passion which I think it’s why I found it so beneficial.”

Sarah loved the friendships she forged while in the program.

“My favorite part had to be the friendships I created with my shipmates. At the end of those seventeen weeks, I saw them all as my family,” Sarah said. “I had never become as close to another group of people the same way I had with them. The community we created must be my favorite part of the experience.”

As far as Sarah’s future is concerned, she hopes to work in ocean stewardship and education and would like to get her captain’s license someday.

“I love what I do, and I want to share it with the rest of the world. As a student studying the environment and the ocean, it is constantly on my radar and I am constantly interacting with people who understand its importance,” Sarah said. “But there is an entire world of people who don’t know a lot about the ocean, or the issues facing it. I see an untapped potential for education and I would like to work in spreading that awareness and knowledge.”

Going Down The Bayou: S’18 Takeaways From The Louisiana Field Seminar

“You may never get to go back to this area and have the same opportunities that are provided to you on this trip.”

This post was written by S’18 student and social media intern Audra DeLaney. She is a public relations major and political science minor from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. Audra enjoys visiting the ocean, going on adventures, and telling the unique stories of the people and places around her. If you have any questions about our program, you can email her at aad6@williams.edu.

Key parts of the Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies Program are the three field seminars that occur during the first half of each semester. In the fall, a class might sail off the coast of Maine, then travel to Northern California. In the spring, they might circumnavigate Puerto Rico before exploring the Pacific Northwest.

Though our West Coast and Offshore Field Seminars vary by semester, Williams-Mystic classes have had one field seminar in common for the past 14 years: Louisiana. Semester after semester, students meet people that the Williams-Mystic faculty and staff have developed close relationships with. Each class experiences firsthand what climate change is doing to our nation’s coasts and the people who live on them.

A few weeks ago, S’18 traveled to Louisiana. A number of students were deeply affected by the people we meet and the places we saw.

For University of Connecticut senior Meghan Patulak, traveling to Louisiana gave her the opportunity to see with her own eyes how climate change is affecting coastal communities.

Going into the field seminar, Meghan expected to be very emotional, moved by the stories of the local coastal community members. She felt like being able to see what the communities were dealing with, including sea level rise and environmental injustice, would impact her greatly.

“It’s one thing to study and imagine what climate change is like, but to actually see with my own two eyes how it’s affecting our people and the natural land… it was truly heartbreaking,” Meghan said. “However, while sorting through these emotions and imagining what I could do to help mitigate the horror of what is occurring, I felt an even stronger passion began to flare in my soul. I knew after hearing these people’s stories that I was going to spend the rest of my life fighting for them and fighting to preserve and cultivate the beauty of this earth.”

College of New Rochelle junior Wenting Shu expected to encounter vibrant Creole and Cajun cultures.

I also expected to learn about the rich history of architecture and food of the area,” Wenting said. “I didn’t expect to interact with the Mayor of Grand Isle nor see the amount of devastation left behind in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I also did not expect to see the daughter of the deceased owner of the Jolly Inn Houma, La., which was more emotional than anything I expected.”

Each time a Williams-Mystic class is in Louisiana, they head to The Jolly Inn to experience Cajun dancing. Meghan said the night of Cajun dancing sticks out vividly in her memory because of how much fun it was, but also because of what happened afterwards.

“We had just departed the dance hall and my van decided to turn up the radio and belt out a few songs. At some point along the way home the professors pulled all the vans into a local Sonic to treat us to some ice cream. As this was happening, Whitney Houston’s “I Just Want To Dance With Somebody” came blaring out of the aux and my entire van began to sing along with the lyrics at the top of our lungs,” Meghan said. “The entire block probably heard us singing. The reason this sticks out so much to me is how happy, free and full of bliss I felt. It was one of those moments where the negativity of the world went away for a bit and everyone was living in the present moment with one another.”

Meghan said it felt like the past and future dissipated and the only thing that mattered was soaking up every last moment of that memory.

For Wenting, the memory of Louisiana that sticks out was arriving at the Mississippi River levee on the first day.

students sit on a Mississippi River levee
S’18 sits on a Mississippi River levee in Kenner, La. as oceanographer Rachel Scudder describes the geology of the area.

“I was also deeply affected by hearing the local residents talk about the loss of their homes and their jobs due to hurricanes and sea level rise,” Wenting said. “The more the residents talked and described their losses, the more overwhelming the feelings became. To see so much resilience and strength in these people was heartbreaking but also made me more driven to help rebuild their community.”

As she approaches graduation, Meghan believes this trip to Louisiana could not have come at a better time.

“I have always had an intense passion for saving the environment and protecting all those that live within it,” Meghan said. “I was able to understand that I’m on the right track in life as I transition into my next life chapter post-graduation. It’s exciting to find what sets your soul on fire. I felt that I had purpose for once and know the work I have put in over the years isn’t going to waste.”

Wenting was left in awe by how history, ecology, and policy all intertwined in Louisiana.

“It made me think critically and it motivated me to want to work with residents and scientists to help lessen the damage of future natural disasters on the communities in southern Louisiana.”  

Meghan gave some advice to future Williams-Mystic students about how to approach this field seminar.

“Talk to everyone you are able to meet, hang with your professors, go night fishing even if you’re tired, swim in the Gulf Coast, eat that weird gator sausage, dance your heart out at the Cajun dance hall, lend a helping hand… just experience everything you possibly can,” Meghan said. “You may never get to go back to this area and have the same opportunities that are provided to you on this trip.”

If a future Williams-Mystic student is reading this, Wenting also has this to say to you:

“Every student takes away something from this interactive learning experience, and it is going to impact you for the rest of your life.”

The Semester of Two Halls: S’17 Alumna Bridget Hall Reflects On Her Williams-Mystic Experience

This post was written by S’18 student and social media intern Audra DeLaney. She is a public relations major and political science minor from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. Audra enjoys visiting the ocean, going on adventures, and telling the unique stories of the people and places around her. If you have any questions about our program, you can email her at aad6@williams.edu.

 

Going to school in Rhode Island gives a college student the opportunity to spend time exploring hiking trails and visiting the ocean. It also affords the opportunity to take a course on marine affairs that sparks curiosity about our nation’s oceans and coasts. For University of Rhode Island Senior Bridget Hall, this is exactly what happened.

After completing a marine affairs course taught by Dennis Nixon, once Williams-Mystic’s marine policy professor, Bridget realized how interested she was in the ocean and interdisciplinary education.

“I’ve always sought interdisciplinary connections in my studies, and was always happiest at URI when I could use knowledge from one of my classes in another course,” Bridget said.

Bridget knew a thing or two about the program prior to completing her application. Her mother is Attorney Katy Robinson Hall, the current marine policy professor for Williams-Mystic and an alumna of the Class of Spring 1984.

Katy and Bridget are the first alumni-turned-professor and child-turned-student pair in the history of the program.

Bridget looks back on her time learning and living at Mystic Seaport fondly.

“I loved living in Mystic and sharing house dinners, Carlton study sessions, classes on the grounds, and trips to Green Marble with some of the most intelligent, funny, and wonderful people I’ve ever met.” Bridget said.

Going offshore on the SSV Corwith Cramer gave Bridget a plethora of knowledge and memories.

“It was a surreal and wonderful experience to go to sea, and I deeply enjoyed the bonds I built with my shipmates out at sea,” Bridget said. “Also, you really can’t beat those Caribbean Sea sunrises.”

The experience of living and working at a museum is an aspect of this program that makes it stand out. As a history major, Bridget treasured her opportunity to work in Mystic Seaport’s collection.

“So few students get the experience of working in museums before they start graduate school, and I was fortunate to work and volunteer with multiple departments in the Seaport for the entire semester,” Bridget said. “This experience helped me get a job at the Seaport the summer after my semester, and redirected my career goal towards working with museums and cultural heritage.”

For Bridget, the hardest part of the semester was when it all came to a close. Leaving Mystic and her 16 new friends was incredibly difficult.

“I’ll never forget my last night in Mystic, when my class went out onto the grounds at 2 a.m. to sit in a whaleboat to watch a thunderstorm move up the river and reminisce about the semester,” Bridget said.

Bridget believes conducting multiple independent research projects at Williams-Mystic had a significant effect on her higher education experience.

“It also cemented my interest in pursuing a career in public history, exploring where climate change, cultural heritage, and memory intersect in the public sphere,” Bridget said.

Currently, Bridget is in the process of finishing her senior year of college. Two of her senior projects have ties to Mystic Seaport and the Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies Program.

“For my history thesis, I’m focusing on the George Greenman and Co. Shipbuilding company and how they directly profited from slavery by building numerous ships for the cotton trade in the 1830s-1860s despite being vocal supporters of abolition,” Bridget said. “I’m also channeling Williams Mystic in my honors project, which is focused on Dulac, Louisiana, the history of the Biloxi-Chitimacha Confederation of Muskogees, and the threats the tribe and its cultural heritage is facing due to rising sea levels in southern Louisiana.”

The connections made at Williams-Mystic continue well beyond the end of each semester. What surprised and impressed Bridget was the vibrant Williams-Mystic alumni community, especially since the program is only one semester long.

“I go to a state school, so you don’t really know your entire class and there isn’t a strong culture of returning for alumni reunions or events,” Bridget said. “With Williams Mystic, alumni are really connected to the program and form a really tight knit community.”

The number of ways Williams-Mystic changed her life was too many for Bridget to count.

“It made me more confident in myself, gave me a lifetime of wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and memories, introduced me to 16 wonderful people that I’m happy to call my friends, gave me a chance to work in a world class museum, helped me work with renowned professionals and academics in policy, history, literature, and science, reshaped my career goals, and taught me how to cook dinner for four people.”

 

Then and Now: Lab Manager and Assistant Director of Student Life Laurie Warren (S’89) reflects on her time at Williams-Mystic

After working as a bench scientist for more than 17 years, Laurie Warren (S’89) is back at Williams-Mystic as Lab Manager and Assistant Director of Student Life. She says it’s like she never left.

This post is the first in a series on Williams-Mystic’s staff and faculty. 

This post was written by S’18 student and social media intern Audra DeLaney. She is a public relations major and political science minor from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. Audra enjoys visiting the ocean, going on adventures, and telling the unique stories of the people and places around her. If you have any questions about our program, you can email her at aad6@williams.edu.  


six college students pose together in an old photo
Laurie Warren (née Wilson) and her S’89 classmates at the Seaport. From left to right: Rob Johnston, Laurie, Margie Butler, Erika Mueller, Wendy Read, and Judith Wright.

It’s January 1989. Now-lab manager Laurie Warren is preparing to participate in the Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies Program, which, at this time, is only eight and a half years old.

“I was a student in the spring of ‘89, which was during my junior year at Mount Holyoke College,” Laurie said. “I found out about the program from poster I saw in my biology department on a cork board.”

Laurie had heard about the program before, but had never taken the time to sit down and learn about all it could offer her.

“Back then, there were a lot of students who did the program through the Twelve College Exchange and I also had an awareness of what it was like to go out to sea because my sister, who is five years older, had done SEA semester on Westward.”

The program Laurie’s sister did was six weeks out at sea. Laurie was more interested in doing the Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies Program because it included only two weeks out at sea.

The S’89 class had the unique experience of being at the crossroads of Williams-Mystic history.

“I was the last class of Ben Labaree, who is the founder. I was Glenn Gordinier and Mary K. Bercaw Edwards’ first class,” Laurie said. “I was at the crossroads. Dennis Nixon was the policy professor but he was on sabbatical. So, we had Ben for both history and policy.”

Laurie remembers going on many field trips for policy class.

“We went to an aquaculture site, a liquid natural gas (LNG) tank exhibit and we did a lot of outreach with quest speakers,” Laurie said.  

Laurie’s Williams-Mystic experience centered on New England, with Mystic Seaport as the focal point.

“It was our campus. We spent a lot of time there. We did a number of material culture projects and got into the collections. At that time, Glenn was not our main professor but he was very involved in the material culture aspect of history class.”

Laurie remembers working on a material culture project about the whale boat.

“A group of us all did it together. One of us did the Cooperage, one did the Morgan, I did the whale boat, and it all connected to whaling.”

Like many Williams-Mystic alumni, Laurie has fond memories from her time on campus and still identifies with her house, Albion.

“It is not the same Albion House that is on campus today. The one I lived in was across the street. I remember Ray Strong, my classmate, was the treasurer of our house. He was an economics major from Middlebury. He used some of our house money to buy stuff to make a tetherball court in the backyard, cement and all. We had a lot of fun.”

Other campus houses have also changed since Laurie’s semester as a student.

“Kemble House was one of the houses. So was Mallory, but it was down the street on the right and now it is owned by an alumna. Johnston House was also here but Carr House was not.”

When asked what her favorite field seminar memory was, Laurie talked about her time as a Williams-Mystic Science TA following her graduation from college.

“When Jim [Carlton] came on board as director, we went on a trip to New York City. We went to a container port there and we also went to Ellis Island. We stayed at Governor’s Island and we slept on the floor in sleeping bags. I remember being on this island and looking at the Manhattan skyline.”

Even after Laurie moved on from working for the program right after college, she was still invited back to go on a number of field seminars.

Laurie also worked on Mystic Seaport’s demonstration squad, led by longtime Williams-Mystic literature professor Mary K. Bercaw Edwards.

After working as a TA, Laurie chose to pursue her passion for marine biology through an internship with the Department of Environmental Protection.

“I did a lobster project with them as an intern and I learned so much about different species and tools used in science research.”

Eventually, Laurie chose to take a position at DeKalb Genetics, a plant genetics lab then based in Mystic.

“I started there and was there for seven years. That is where I got the experience with working in a lab in industry.”

“After seven years there I made the move to go into pharmaceuticals because there was another employer nearby, Pfizer. I was there for 17 years as a biologist.”

Throughout her career, Laurie learned about plant biology. While at DeKalb, she worked on making corn more resistant so farmers could avoid using insecticides on the crop. She also graduated with a Master of Science in cellular and molecular biology while employed at DeKalb. At Pfizer, she worked in a lab that studied early biomarkers of Alzheimer’s Disease and head trauma.

“A lot of my work was really early discovery work. It was not in clinical with human patients or even with animals. I was doing cell-based work.”

Over 17 years, Laurie move from project to project. She got experience in cardiovascular health and in early safety. The common theme in all areas of her work were biochemistry, proteins, and cells.

After being laid off from Pfizer along with many other employees, Laurie took a year to decide what she was going to do next.

“I had the luxury of a little time to figure things out. I volunteered here a lot and helped work on the reunion last summer.”

Ultimately, she decided to come back to Williams-Mystic, this time as Lab Manager and Assistant Director of Student Life. One of her favorite parts of her job is hanging out with students and having conversations with them about classes, work, and life.

Even though Laurie worked in the field of science for a long time, she tells people it is like she never left Williams-Mystic.

“I was a student and then a TA and then there was a gap of some time but when I started having kids in 2002/2003, I jumped onto the alumni council and I am still there today. I have always felt connected with the program.”

What makes the experience of coming back to Williams-Mystic even more fun for Laurie is that Glenn and Mary K. are still here and Jim Carlton is around every now and then.

“It is such a family atmosphere. The Seaport has always been and will always be a big part of my life.”

For Stewart Silver (S’18), Williams-Mystic is the Perfect Place to Make Connections (and Prize-Winning Chili)

“I am fascinated by the sea and sailing. While I am here I am trying to gather as much information about life at sea as I can.”

This post was written by S’18 student and social media intern Audra DeLaney. She is a public relations major and political science minor from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. Audra enjoys visiting the ocean, going on adventures, and telling the unique stories of the people and places around her. If you have any questions about our program, you can email her at aad6@williams.edu.  

Exploration is an integral part of the Williams-Mystic experience. Students come to us from all educational disciplines to explore the maritime world through multiple lenses. They also come to use to learn more about themselves and where they want to go in their career and in life, which is true for University of Pennsylvania Sophomore Stewart Silver.  

“I am taking a semester to explore some things I would like to do both academically and career-wise,” Stewart said. “I have been studying biochemistry but will likely switch my major to biology or environmental studies.”

Stewart hopes to make connections both academically and socially over the course of the semester in our program.

“I am fascinated by the sea and sailing,” Stewart said. “While I am here I am trying to gather as much information about life at sea as I can.”

To accomplish this, Stewart has taken on two different jobs at Mystic Seaport.

“I am working with the sailing department to help maintain and repair any projects that they have going on there,” Stewart said. “I am also working at the shipyard helping maintenance and reconstruct the Mayflower II.”

Stewart believes that both of these jobs will give him valuable experience that will help him in his future endeavors.

“I am planning on going to grad school of some kind,” Stewart said. “I don’t know exactly what that looks like right now. It could be anything from law school to medical school or anywhere in between. I may take time off of school depending on what I get interested in here and over the next couple of years.”

Stewart said that community living has been good for him in this phase of his life and academic career.

“I am a member of Johnston House and living there has been a really good experience so far,” Stewart said. “It has been fun to interact with the other houses and students here in the program. I would say we all get along really well.”

Stewart says that everyone has the people they spend free time and study with but that the group as a whole truly enjoys spending time together.

Williams-Mystic seems to be famous for the all-in-good-fun pranks that occur between houses during each semester. Stewart said that pranks are definitely happening between the houses — and that it makes the experience even more memorable and exciting.

“Some houses are taking things from other houses but it is just to have fun,”  Stewart said.

Aside from pranking other houses and having fun with his classmates, Stewart has enjoyed all things about the program related to food.

“I have enjoyed cooking as a house, having lots of snacks around, and participating in the chili cook-off,” Stewart said. “This was the first annual Williams-Mystic chili cook-off and it was awesome. Each house brought a specialty chili that one or a few people from each house made. We tried them all at our program director’s home, voted on the best one, and, of course, Johnston House won.”

Stewart said S’18 is hoping to do more potluck dinners together and find more ways to share food, friendship, and fun memories.

Exploring the Seaport invigorates Stewart’s appreciation for this program. Stewart chose to take ship carving as his maritime skill.

“We have only had the chance to meet once but our first class was really fun,” Stewart said. “It was an awesome experience to see all the things that can be done with carving into wood, signs, figureheads, and smaller decorative objects. I am really excited to expand this skill and have it be a vehicle for learning more about the history of ships and all the small things that go on behind the scenes to make them work.”

A Journey Open to All: Olivia Glaser (S’18) on the Williams-Mystic Community

“This program is one of the most interdisciplinary programs out there. No matter what you think you are going to do or what path you are headed on in life, there is definitely an opportunity for you to find something here you are passionate about.”

This post was written by S’18 student and social media intern Audra DeLaney. She is a public relations major and political science minor from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. Audra enjoys visiting the ocean, going on adventures, and telling the unique stories of the people and places around her. If you have any questions about our program, you can email her at aad6@williams.edu.  

Williams-Mystic S’18 student and Skidmore College sophomore Olivia Glaser is originally from Los Angeles, California. She choose to go to school in Saratoga Springs, New York to experience something different: seasons.

The spring of her freshman year, Olivia happened to be in a class where Williams-Mystic executive director, Tom Van Winkle, was speaking.

“Tom came to talk in the class I was taking and I later talked to a Skidmore student who had done the program,” Olivia said. “This past fall I got in contact with Meredith [Carroll, Assistant Director of Admissions,] about an open house I wasn’t able to attend and she asked if I would be interested in applying, which I hadn’t even been thinking about.”

Olivia hadn’t been thinking about applying to the program because she didn’t think that was something she could do as a sophomore. She took time to contemplate if she was in a good spot in her academic career to be off campus for a semester as a sophomore and still thrive at Skidmore once she returned. Ultimately, she decided she wanted to participate in the program and chose to apply.

“It was a pretty big change from how I thought my sophomore year was going to go but I think I was ready for it,” Olivia said.

Since arriving at Mystic Seaport, Olivia said she has made many memories but that orientation week has been one of her favorite experiences so far.

“Getting to know everyone, my housemates in particular, has been a really positive experience,” Olivia said. “Preparing to go offshore with them was fun and that experience itself seems so surreal.”

Having been back in Connecticut for a few weeks, Olivia said that thinking back on the Offshore Field Seminar seems almost magical.

“We have all of these memories from the experience but I think about it sometimes and I think ‘did that really happen?’ because it seems so far away.”

One of the parts of the program Olivia was most excited for about living here in Mystic, Connecticut was being able to live in a house with her shipmates.

“I lived in a dorm while I was at Skidmore and that was fun but it is great to live in a house because I have my own space and I live with other people,” Olivia said. “Having that cohesive group is really nice and I enjoy all the responsibilities that come with it, like cooking and cleaning.”

Olivia said each house is different, so it is interesting to see how her house works together versus how other houses work together.

Each house receives an allowance for food each week, and must determine how to use and distribute the money. 

“Johnston House complies a grocery list and sends a few people to go grocery shopping for our food each week,” Olivia said. “Breakfast and lunch are on our own but dinners are cooked by usually one or two people for the group. Having family-style dinners has been good for us.”

Olivia wants people to know that this program is for any and all curious and driven students who want a change of view and pace in their academic career.

“This program is one of the most interdisciplinary programs that there is out there,” Olivia said. “No matter what you think you are going to do or what path you are headed on in life, there is definitely an opportunity for you to find something here you are passionate about or something related to what you are studying at your home school at Williams-Mystic.”

An Experience She’ll Never Forget: Katie Maddox (S’18) on Sailing Offshore

Being offshore “gives you a sense of how small you are in the world and that is very humbling. Now, being back in class, we can relate to all we are learning and reading about in literature and history.”

This post was written by S’18 student and social media intern Audra DeLaney. She is a public relations major and political science minor from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. Audra enjoys visiting the ocean, going on adventures, and telling the unique stories of the people and places around her. If you have any questions about our program, you can email her at aad6@williams.edu.  

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Our program prides itself on providing undergraduate students a semester of original research opportunities, extensive travel, and timely snack breaks. For University of Georgia Senior Katie Maddox, getting glimpses of the program via social media made her think that Williams-Mystic was the place for her to spend her last undergraduate semester.

“I decided to do Williams-Mystic because I don’t know what I want to do until I go to grad school,” Katie said. “I need to bridge that gap and it is a way for me to figure out what I want to do for the next few years.”

At the University of Georgia, Katie was an ecology student. Her class sizes were small and she experienced research and fieldwork first hand. What she had never experienced until coming to Williams-Mystic was conducting science experiments aboard a tall ship. While aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer circumnavigating Puerto Rico, Katie experienced all sailing has to offer.

“I was a part of A Watch and one night we had watch from 2300 (11 p.m.) to 0300 (3 a.m.) and we were motor sailing so it was pretty rough seas,” Katie said. “About half of our watch was clipped into the leeward rail because we were all seasick.”

Katie said that was the time aboard the ship where she asked herself why she had chosen to do the program, but that the seasickness subsided and there were many positive moments out at sea.

“My journal reflects some of the negative moments but all of my best memories are bonding with everyone,” Katie said. “The watches were made so well and now all of us are best buds. The class came back a big family.”

Being at sea was an experience Katie will never forget.

“It gives you a sense of how small you are in the world and that is very humbling,” Katie said. “Now, being back in class, we can relate to all we are learning and reading about in literature and history.”

Katie’s motto in life is that you have to try everything at least once. Even though she didn’t let it show, she worried about surrendering contact with the outside world and being a novice crew member on a ship for ten days. Now, worries and seasickness aside, she believes that sailing aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer is the best experience she has had in her college career thus far.

 

Aside from sailing in Puerto Rico, the S’18 class got another unique experience: visiting Old San Juan and El Morro, the fort at the entrance to San Juan Harbor.

The class as a whole was able to see the rebuilding process going on in Puerto Rico since hurricanes devastated the area in fall 2017.

“I had been to the same area last March prior to the hurricanes,” Katie said. “I got to see how things in the area had changed. It was depressing to see but it was good to see that the city is recovering.”

Prior to heading to Puerto Rico, Literature Professor Mary K. Bercaw Edwards told the class to imagine what it was like to get off the ship in a place they had never been and go into town with your lump sum of money like sailors did long ago. Katie said she thought about that while she was in San Juan and it was an interesting perspective to view the excursion from.

“I was glad we started at El Morro because as you work your way toward the bottom of old San Juan it gets more and more touristy,” Katie said. “It was cool to see that dynamic.”

When the SSV Corwith Cramer was coming back into San Juan Harbor, Katie said she felt like a real sailor because seeing the fort first is what the sailors would have seen back in the day.

For Katie, being back at Mystic Seaport is just as exciting as being out at sea. In addition to academic classes, each student takes a maritime skills class taught by those who work at the Seaport.

“My skill is canvas working,” Katie said. “I am very excited about it because we start with a literal and proverbial blank canvas.”

Katie’s will also hold a job while she is in the program. She is a lab assistant to Lab Manager Laurie Warren.

“I will help maintain the aquarium and take inventory in the lab,” Katie said. “This job is going to be a way to make a little money on the side and have fun.”

Williams-Mystic is more than just a maritime studies program. It is a place for people from all walks of life, and college majors, to engage in the study of ocean and beyond from many different angles. If you would like to learn more about the Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies Program, please visit mystic.williams.edu.