The University of Southern Mississippi recently honored 13 students with a ceremony for completing the rigorous, one-year hydrographic science program.
Family and friends gathered Aug. 4 in the Fleming Education Center (FEC) Auditorium on the University’s Gulf Park campus in Long Beach to recognize 13 students who successfully completed the Master of Science degree in hydrographic science, which covers all aspects of geodesy and hydrographic science during a continuous 50-week curriculum.
Southern Miss is the first educational institution in the United States to receive certification from the International Hydrographic Organization, which began the program in April 2000. The program began as a joint venture between the University’s Department of Marine Science and the Naval Oceanographic Office.
“This is a program that separates us from any other university,” said Dr. Karen Coats, dean of the Graduate School for Southern Miss. “The quality of these 13 students bring a distinction to Southern Miss that is recognized across the global hydrographic science community.”
Coats said although the coursework is demanding, the students should take pride in choosing a field that challenged them, asserting “any accomplishment that’s valuable should be difficult.”
“If an arduous journey wasn’t required, everyone would attain this honor and this has proven over the course of a year, to be something that not just anyone can attain,” she said.
Since the program’s inception in 2000, 174 students from 24 different countries have been awarded master’s degrees in hydrographic science and have enjoyed the program’s 100 percent job-placement rate for graduates.
“Looking up and down the coast, it’s easy to see how important hydrographic science is to our blue economy,” said Capt. Brian Connon, U.S. Navy. “Mapping the sea floor allows for incredible restoration projects such as the new Port of Gulfport.”
Connon, the event’s keynote speaker, lauded the students for their skills and encouraged them to look at the Gulf Coast for opportunities.
“The Gulf Coast is home to a huge offshore oil and gas industry. They do not find those spots randomly; hydrographers guide them on their way,” he said. “You are now the expert, not the pupil. The nation will look to you for answers to its most difficult questions.”
After the ceremony concluded, the graduates joined their teachers for a congratulatory slice of cake in the FEC lobby. Once teacher and student, now equals, the graduates picked the brains of their former instructors. Mere moments after completing 50 weeks of classes, the 13 graduates were ready for their next lesson.