Port of Port Arthur celebrates 30-plus Camp Seaport graduates; see the pictures

Published 1:50 pm Friday, July 14, 2023

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While speaking at the Port of Port Arthur’s Camp Seaport Commencement Ceremony Friday, U.S. Coast Guard Captain Tony Migliorini stressed the importance of the maritime industry.

“I hope you gained that appreciation for how great the maritime world is,” he said. “And I hope you decide this system some day in future employment. Obviously I’m a little bit biased to the Coast Guard, so I’m really hoping you got excited about the Coast Guard and want to be a part of that, because I think we do some amazing things.”

And whether Migliorini knew it or not, his wish was about to come true.

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Ariana Pompa, for instance, will be sworn in next week.

The 18-year-old was a former camper, participating in Camp Seaport her junior year at Woodrow Wilson Early College High School and returning for Phase II her senior year.

“Because of this camp, I’m shipping out next month for the Coast Guard,” she said. “On our third day, we went and visited the Sabine Pass base with the Coast Guard and we did one of their safety drills with them where we had a man overboard. And we got to be on the boat with them and help them rescue a person. That was when I realized that was something I wanted to do — be out there and help people.”

Port Director Larry Kelley said Wednesday has always been Coast Guard Day for the five-day camp, and is always a highlight for the teenagers involved.

“I really enjoyed the Coast Guard,” said Jasmin Walter, 16. “I really enjoyed meeting the people and seeing what they do. I love learning, and I love the prevention and response part. And I think that might be my future.”

During the ceremony at Carl A. Parker Multipurpose Center, the 30-plus campers from Port Arthur and Mid County were celebrated for their participation and enthusiasm. Participants explore marine vessels, meet other professionals in the industry, analyze coastal conservation, learn basic seafarer skills and explore waterways among other activities.

It was, said Camp Director Eric Charon, the largest class since Port Commissioner Linda Spears created the program.

“I was kind of skeptical and so was Commissioner Spears about taking on this many kids,” he said to the crowd. “But I want to let you parents know that you have done an excellent job raising these kids, because you have some great kids. And because of them, I think we’re going to try and keep it this large. I didn’t think it was going to work, but if we can have a group of kids like them every time, it’ll be worth it.”

Kelley said Spears developed Camp Seaport 16 years ago.

“It took a diverse group of individuals, and the face of that composition and the number of people have changed over the years,” he said. “And I think that speaks to the success of this program — you can change out the people but the program still continues to exist and continues to grow.”

And while the Coast Guard was a highlight for many of the students, some came away with a different vision for their future.

“In the program, we visited Motiva and saw what process operators do, the control rooms, the numbers. I was intrigued by it,” said Nathaniel Leija, 16. “It’s an experience that everybody should have.” 

The 2023 Camp Seaport Campers were:

  • Alejandro Martinez
  • Anyla Freeman
  • Ashaun Hill
  • Ashton Tyree
  • Aura Martinez
  • Breeann Saunders
  • Cayden Orta
  • Charlie Alfred
  • Derion Charles
  • Eric Torres
  • Ivan Villareyna
  • Jaden Nguyen
  • Jairo Bustamante
  • Jasmin Watler
  • Jordan Green
  • Julia Nguyen
  • Kayla Hope
  • Kenneth Morgan III
  • Khyrie Joseph
  • La’Damien West
  • Lonnie Richardson
  • Lynnetra Taylor
  • Maliyah Wolf
  • Marlen Vides
  • Michael Tran
  • Nathaniel Leija
  • Roselyn Vides
  • Royal Iles Jr.
  • Ryan Kirk
  • Sarai Estrada
  • Tori Chance