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Spring Graduate Camron Chueca, "Ready To Get To Work"    

May 9, 2024

May graduate Camron Chueca '24
May graduate Camron Chueca '24

By Taylor Bounds, Division of Marketing and Communications

During his senior year of high school in Orange, Texas, Camron Chueca '24 planned to attend Texas A&M University in College Station for his bachelor's degree after receiving a letter of acceptance into the university. But before he confirmed his offer of admission, Chueca attended a college fair at his local community college, where he learned about Texas A&M University at Galveston.  He hadn't previously considered the marine and maritime branch campus, but he soon toured, applied and was admitted into the marine engineering technology program, choosing to pursue a merchant mariner license, as well. Four years later and with a job lined up with the Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association (MEBA), Chueca acknowledges that while he would have enjoyed life at the larger College Station campus, Galveston was calling his name.

Valuing hard work and practical experience, Chueca measures his time at the Galveston Campus by what he learned, both in the classroom and out in the industry. Now, as a cadet in the Texas A&M Maritime Academy at the end of his senior year, he has spent three summers at sea accruing training and sea time towards his license.  Two of those sea terms were on TS Kennedy, the university's training ship, and one commercial sea term working for G&H Towing out of Freeport between his sophomore and junior years, on the tug Lamar.

"Commercial sea term was a great experience, and it was good to learn how to work with two different crews," Chueca said. "It gave me a better understanding of diesel mechanics that built on our lab experience, and I got to learn more about deck operations and get a really good understanding of exactly how important tugs are to the shipping industry." Chueca joked, "I also did a ton of painting."

His two sea terms on TS Kennedy are distinct: the first, the summer after his freshman year, his fellow cadets were mostly Texas A&M Maritime Academy cadets. He loved the camaraderie that came from working alongside his classmates and the upperclassmen. This cadre of students meant he could spend time one-on-one with officers and professional crew. 

The summer after his junior year was markedly different: with cadets from California Maritime Academy, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Maine Maritime Academy and State University of New York Maritime College, there was a significant culture shift, and Chueca took on the role of lead engine cadet, an experience as challenging as it was rewarding. He worked long nights, making sure that every cadet had a job to do and was where they were supposed to be. He admitted there was a steep learning curve, but his third and final sea term helped him build and refine his leadership and management skills.

Camron Chueca
Chueca, center

Back in Galveston, Chueca says that, like everyone else, he likes the campus because of the island culture, the beach and the fishing, but that two other things really stand out to him. 

"There is such a community here," he said. "Everyone knows everyone–not just students, but all of my professors know me, too. It's like a small town in the best way." Chueca continued, "The second is that students here get so much hands-on experience. All of my friends, even in different majors, get to work directly with what they'll be doing when they graduate. When you combine these two things, it means that nobody gets left behind."

Chueca thrived in student organizations as well. Serving two years as the Student Government Association's marine engineering technology representative and as speaker of the student senate his senior year, Chueca helped grow the Corps of Cadets' representation in Student Government from none to eight. He is also a member of the student chapter of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers and Marine Technology Society, which he helped restart on  campus, and Women on the Water, the student group of Women Offshore. Chueca's extracurricular work shows that he is committed to bettering the campus for everyone, but particularly to laying the groundwork to benefit future students. 

Chueca has worked as a student employee on the training ship – first TS General Rudder and then TS Kennedy – since October of 2020. He's worked closely with Chief Milton Korn, a chief engineer and professor of the practice in the marine engineering technology department, who Chueca cites as a mentor. 

"I've known Camron since his first semester here at Texas A&M at Galveston," said Korn. "I recognized his unique talents and encouraged him to become a 'student worker' aboard the training ship; from the start, he was more than just a 'student' and consistently demonstrated exceptional and keen insight into solving problems, getting dirty and getting work done." Korn continued, "He has exceptional integrity and is not afraid to speak up when things are going wrong. I am sure that these qualities will serve him well in his future."

With commencement quickly approaching, Chueca looks forward to starting his career. After Chueca walks across the stage on May 10, he will immediately sign on with his employer, MEBA, the country's oldest maritime labor union, and could ship out as soon as the Monday after graduation. 

Graduating with his Third Assistant Engineer license, Chueca is excited to start working his way up to a triple chief: a chief engineer certified in gas turbine, steam and diesel engines.

True to form, Chueca said, "I'm ready to get to work. I'm excited to see the water move beside me instead of staying in the dock like the training ship." Chueca laughs, then says "And I'm excited to get paid." 

As he embarks on the next chapter of his career, he reflects on his time at Texas A&M at Galveston. 

"The first time I visited campus, I thought, 'This is it,'" Chueca said. "Now I know that I was right."

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Media contact:
Taylor Bounds
bounds@tamu.edu



Texas A&M University at Galveston is the marine and maritime branch campus of Texas A&M University which educates nearly 2,300 undergraduate and graduate students in science, business, engineering, liberal arts and transportation. It is driving the development of the blue economy in the Gulf Coast Region and is a critical contributor to Texas A&M's rare land-, sea-, space-grant mission with nearly $10 million in research expenditures.

Texas A&M-Galveston is also home to the Texas A&M Maritime Academy, one of six state maritime academies and the only one in the southern United States, which trains over 400 cadets annually for maritime service and employment around the world.

Texas A&M-Galveston is located in Galveston, Texas on the Gulf Coast where it is surrounded by industry, environment and programs essential to fulfilling its special-purpose mission. Aggies are known for their deep commitment to the success of each other and their strong desire to serve.