This post was written by S’18 alumna Audra DeLaney. She is studying public relations and political science at 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
When S’18 alumnus Byers Kadow sat down at his computer to search for maritime studies programs, Williams-Mystic was just another tab in his browser.
Now Byers, an English major with an environmental studies minor entering his senior year at Suffolk University, believes Williams-Mystic is an undergraduate experience like no other.
“It provided an insight into areas of study that many traditional colleges do not offer. Being able to study maritime disciplines both in the classroom and the field was a phenomenal experience,” Byers said.
As Byers’s classmate, I can attest to his love for literature, history, and coffee. His favorite parts of the program included all three:
“Walking through Mystic Seaport to my Literature of the Sea and Maritime History classes with my coffee in hand. Standing on the deck outside the Thompson Building waiting for the classroom door to be unlocked was nice because it provided opportunities to peer out onto the river in all types of weather,” Byers said. “Whether fog covered the surface or rain inundated it to the edge of the dock, it was always a pleasant few minutes each day.”
Literature of the Sea was an especially important class for Byers.
“The novels we read [especially Moby-Dick, The Seawolf, and Tales of the Fish Patrol] covered lifestyles and geographic regions many people do not read or care about in today’s day and age. By reading these novels, we can catch a glimpse at what it might have been like [then].
“By taking this course, we were able to apply the characters’ experiences to our own since we had the opportunity to hit the open sea. For example, how many people receive the opportunity to read Moby-Dick on a former whaling ship, the last of its kind? Not many. Likewise, reading The Tempest in my bunk late at night, rolling in the swells and hearing the crashing waves against the hull all at the same time was a unique experience. Mary K also brings great enthusiasm to the class, which can make or break the classroom vibes.”
Byers has a number of memories that stand out to him from his time in Mystic:
“My early morning walks to the YMCA, time aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer, playing ultimate frisbee out front of Carlton, sitting on the Johnston house porch eating lunch, our chantey concert, reading Moby-Dick on the Charles Morgan, scrolling through countless research papers for Marine Policy or Maritime History in the hopes of finding a useful section.”
Louisiana, a field seminar favorite among many, gave Byers a number of first-time experiences — including “eating Cajun food, touring the French Quarter, eating beignets at Café Du Monde, riding the Natchez steamboat, conversing with local fishermen, and seeing Port Fourchon in action.”
Williams-Mystic also gave Byers insight into the maritime industry that would have been hard for him to obtain in a traditional college setting.
“Through this program, I was fortunate enough to receive an internship with Crowley Maritime. As I type this, I am sitting with the Corporate Security team at the Jacksonville headquarters. By delving into the world of security and investigations, I plan on pursuing a Master’s degree in Homeland Security or a related field next year,” Byers said.
The position Byers was assigned to at Crowley was on the corporate security and crisis management team.
“I was part of the team that controlled the security for Crowley warehouses in Jacksonville and two different ports,” Byers said. “We were also responsible for making sure that guards were doing what they were supposed to and that security cameras were operating.”
Byers’ team could log into computers and make sure the cameras were running and could log into cameras in Puerto Rico and Miami. This team also handled overweight shipping container searches. If one came in overweight, customs and border protection used dogs to make sure there was not any external contraband before doing a more invasive search.
Byers’ favorite part of his internship happened on his second to last day in Jacksonville.
“I was able to go aboard one of Crowley’s new ships, El Coqui (the name comes from a frog native to Puerto Rico), and eat lunch with some of the crew members. I also got to help a few of the crew members put guards on the lines tying the ship to the dock,” Byers said. “Walking around on a ship of that magnitude was awesome. El Coqui runs on liquefied natural gas (LNG), a new standard. End of the year, another ship, Taino, named for a tribe native to Puerto Rico, will come online to join El Coqui. For the first half of the internship, there was an anxiety about the ship getting there and it was cool when the ship finally arrived.”
Byers got another opportunity to be aboard ships.
“I got the opportunity to go on one of the Crowley tugs that pulls barges down to Puerto Rico and back. I got a brief tour and then walked around the inside of the empty barge,” Byers said. “Since Crowley now has ConRo ships being put into service, these barges will either be sold off or used for other purposes. A paint crew was painting over the Crowley logo and name on the barge since they had sold it and didn’t want their name painted on the side for liability reasons.”
Byers said it would be hard to find someone who does not like working for Crowley because of how invested they are in employee safety and wellbeing. Byers appreciates Williams-Mystic for facilitating this experience for him.
As a result of both experiences, Byers hopes to work in counter-terrorism and intelligence.
“I would like to work in the maritime industry as it is such a dynamic and important industry to global commerce and the overall functioning of society. Working in the maritime industry, I would hope to see new areas of the world from both conventional and unconventional perspectives.”