The following is the text of a press release issued by State University of New York Maritime College:
(THROGGS NECK, N.Y.) — More than 230 students received their degrees from SUNY Maritime College last week, the largest class in the college’s 142-year history.
In addition to giving the students their bachelor’s degrees and U.S. Coast Guard licenses, the college also gave an honorary doctorate to Chris Wiernicki, president and CEO of the American Bureau of Shipping.
Wiernicki gave the commencement address, giving advice to the students about how to be leaders.
“The only difference between you and me is 36 years,” said Wiernicki. “In the context of that, I want to talk to you about leadership. Not in the context of the boardroom but in the context of life. Everyone can be a leader and everyone should be a leader, no matter what circumstances you are in.”
Wiernicki went on to tell the story of his father, John, who was a resistance fighter in Poland after the German occupation, was captured and imprisoned in concentration camps during World War II, escaped and, years later, emigrated to the United Kingdom and then the United States. Wiernicki credited his father’s successes to his reliance on his instincts and his positive outlook, and exhorted the graduates to do the same.
A naval architect by training, Wiernicki has been part of the American Bureau of Shipping since 1993, working his way up through the organization. ABS is a global leader in classification and certification services for the global marine and offshore industry.
It is also the employer of about 50 graduates of SUNY Maritime, each of whom, Wiernicki said “has played a very important role in making ABS the organization it is today.”
The graduating class included 24 Naval ensigns, also the largest ROTC class in the college’s history, commissioned the day before commencement.