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VPANearly 100 friends, family, community leaders and faculty were on hand to congratulate and say “bon voyage” to the inaugural graduating class of the Jack Yates Maritime Program.

The 2013 Yates Maritime Program graduates are: Christopher Domingue, Trey Hilliard, Gregory Jacquett, Devin Jefferson, Asher Jones, Jose Pablo, Leija Ambriz, Michael McCradic, Russell McKenzie, Jamal Moore, Laura Resendiz, Jesicka Robinson, James Rucker and De’arious Johnson-Foman.

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Under the direction of Ms. Linda Clary, these students have completed the necessary requirements to “sail the seven seas” and pursue various careers as longshoremen and other maritime career opportunities. These students were honored during a Graduation Appreciation Dinner in association with the Port of Houston Authority, Texas Southern University and a host of other community partners. Marla McNeal-Shepherd, the principal of Yates, was on hand to express her appreciation for the support the school and these students have received.

Gilda Ramirez, the port’s Vice President, Small Business Development, served as Mistress of Ceremonies. Ramirez congratulated the students for their interest in the program and cited a number of careers that were attainable with their Maritime Certification.

Port Commissioner Dean Corgey commended the students for their accomplishments and shared his testimony on how he came from modest means and was able to rise up through the ranks in the maritime industry to establish a successful career and future.   In closing, Corgey wished the graduates “smooth sailing waters and fair wind beneath their wings.”

Carl Davis, with the City of Houston’s Mayor’s Citizens Assistance and Jeffrey L. Boney, Texas Business Alliance CEO and Founder, were among the various Jack Yates alumni who attended the Appreciation Dinner and shared inspirational words with the graduates.

“As Jack Yates Alumni and members of the Small Business Advisory Board at the Port of Houston, Jeff Boney and I fought hard to ensure that the Yates Maritime program was the finest in this area,” stated Davis. “I am beaming with joy at the opportunities that are now available to these young people. They will make the Crimson and Gold extremely proud!”

“Programs like this are what schools like Yates needs in order to prepare our youth for the important jobs of the future,” said Boney. “I remain deeply excited to continue to promote and support this outstanding program at Yates High School.”

Yates-Maritime-5.22.2013-58Erica Lee Carter, Harris County Board of Education Trustee, presented Congressional certificates to the graduates on behalf of her mother, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee.

The Maritime Academy was initiated four years ago in a partnership between the Port of Houston Authority and Houston Independent School District.   The program addresses the industry’s needs to keep the Maritime industry competitive and flush with knowledgeable employees. Students acquire industry certifications (OSHA – 10 hour general industry & CLA/ CLT (Certified Logistics Associate and Certified Technician which are recognized as college credits in many colleges and universities throughout the U.S.) and will have the choice to go to work immediately or acquire a two- or four-year degree.

The Yates Maritime Academy mission is to prepare students for college, work, and citizenship through rigorous and engaging projects that connect to real issues in the Maritime Industry.

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