This post was written by S’18 alumna Audra DeLaney. Audra enjoys visiting the ocean, going on adventures, and telling the unique stories of the people and places around her.
As a political science student concentrating on leadership studies and Africana studies at Williams College, Jaelon Moaney has made connections with his peers and faculty members since the day he arrived in Williamstown. As a result of his ability to reach out, he found out about the Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies Program during an office hours visit.
“With a wide range of flexibility outside of my major I was fortunate enough to have room to explore educationally,” Jaelon said. “Marine Policy was cross-listed as both an Environmental Science and Political Science course which satisfies my Political Science major requirements.”
Williams-Mystic added to Jaelon’s experience at Williams College. Sharing the same overall subject matter with vastly different faculty and shipmates brought to life what he went to Williams to find.
“Williams-Mystic exhibited the merits of applying the interdisciplinary approach to real-world challenges. As an undergraduate at a liberal arts institution, I certainly value the incorporation of all relevant material and stakeholders in decision-making,” Jaelon said. “However, my development of this skill had been hindered by minimal opportunities to practice in an academic setting until I got to Mystic.”
If you are someone who reads our blogs often, you know that many alumni recall their experience during our Gulf Coast field seminar. For Jaelon, this experience deeply affected him.
“Every meal, dance, recap of history and environmental challenge was compatible with a face. Being able to attach real, human lives to each of the disciplines added another layer of significance that still resonates with me today,” Jaelon said.
The emphasis on the community at Williams-Mystic stood out to Jaelon.
“Williams-Mystic is a small, tight-knit community. This dynamic requires each member to selflessly contribute their individual merits for the sake of the whole. The “Ship, Shipmate, Self” mentality became infectious offshore and laid the foundation for former strangers to develop into an interwoven family,” Jaelon said. “Ultimately, this family was not subject to just the semester and year it occurred in but is immersed in the network of alumni produced by each successive year of the program.”
Jaelon was shocked by how quickly he developed bonds with faculty, staff, and his shipmates.
“I would have never imagined the invaluable conversations, moments of laughter and collaborative efforts pictured in the program’s marketing coming to life on a daily basis during my own experience. Each interaction was unique, genuine and thought-provoking,” Jaelon said.
Faculty members spent so much time with the students outside of the classroom.
“Every professor took on the role of being a fellow shipmate of every student in the program. Sharing their sense of humor, wisdom, career trajectory and multi-faceted personalities was an investment of time that I respected and benefited from,” Jaelon said.
As a result of being a Williams-Mystic student, Jaelon no longer envisions bodies of water as merely fundamental support for modes of transportation.
“In fact, what covers three-quarters of our planet can be more accurately characterized as a vector of culture, economy, ideology, food, and in many ways life,” Jaelon said. “As a lifelong resident of the Maryland Eastern Shore I have always thought little could rival the Chesapeake Bay. This newfound perspective has not only deepened my love for the Bay but also opened my passion up to understanding the complex intimacy humans share with marine environments.”
When the spring semester ended, Jaelon interned in Washington, D.C. for Congressmen John P. Sarbanes from Maryland’s Third Congressional District. His Williams-Mystic experience helped him have productive and meaningful conversations with a variety of engaged citizens and stakeholders.
A driven public servant, Jaelon hopes to one day faithfully serve the citizens of the state of Maryland in elected office.
“Over the course of my life in the Old Line State I have been enveloped in an unparalleled membrane of history, culture, principles and, most importantly, people,” Jaelon said. “In my opinion, the only way to pay back the debt I owe is to devote my life to ensuring the utmost quality of life for Marylanders of all generations.”
Based off of advice from a past Albion House member, Jaelon has this to say to prospective Williams-Mystic students:
“Try it. Be willing to expose yourself and let go of any perceived notations. Fully immerse yourself in the program.”