The only disappointment Professor Alex Parker felt on commencement day this year was that it was too windy to carry the degree program flags in the academic procession. It was the first time the academic program he leads—Oceanography—would be processing in a Cal Maritime commencement. Launched just two years ago, the oceanography major graduated its first cohort this year, a small but mighty group of three cadets. Fortunately, the new flag was displayed on the commencement platform, having been completed just days before the ceremony. Justin Pham receiving their degree

“It was a terrific feeling after so much planning.  We are incredibly proud of the work by these students”. Parker says.  “Already, our students are taking advantage of our campus waterfront to participate in hands-on oceanography in their classes and student research working with our faculty.  This spring, we had students out weekly conducting hydrographic surveys of San Pablo Bay and the Napa River.  Next year, we will have oceanography cadets learning small boat safety and operations, so we are building our capabilities.” 

The major was launched just after the pandemic hit, with the first year of classes completely online. 

Yet the three graduates were undeterred. One, Olivia Mũnoz, delivered the commencement address for the Class of '22. A second, Seamus Jameson, received his degree at age 54, after a successful career in other fields. And the third, Justin Pham, showed his enthusiasm for his achievement by facing the commencement audience with his hands stretched up in the air. 

Parker is optimistic about the future of the program. “As we continue to grow, there are terrific opportunities for us to continue taking advantage of both Cal Maritime’s location as well as its unique place in higher education.” 

Established in 1929, California State University Maritime Academy is the only degree-granting maritime academy on the West Coast. Located in Vallejo, California, the campus serves nearly 1,000 students and offers undergraduate degrees preparing students for careers in engineering, transportation, international relations, business, and global logistics. The new oceanography degree program launched in the fall of 2020. Cal Maritime also offers a master’s degree in Transportation and Engineering Management, as well as a number of extended learning programs and courses.