Akku first to US Merchant Marine Academy

Aguster ‘Akku’ Kabua, center, was recognized by the US Army Garrison-Kwajalein Atoll command after being accepted into the US Merchant Marine Academy, following her recent graduation from Kwajalein Jr/Sr High School. Pictured, from left: US Army Major Choi Daekwang, Mike Sakaio, Akku, Pamela Duffy, and Kwajalein Commander Colonel Andrew Morgan.

HILARY HOSIA

Meet Aguster “Akku” Kabua: the first Marshallese to enroll in the prestigious US Merchant Marine Academy.

The maritime trailblazer is the daughter of John Anjojo Kabua and Pamela Duffy and stepdaughter of Mike Sakaio.

The 18-year-old was recognized among five others in her graduating class for their acceptance of similar federal scholarships during the Kwajalein Jr/Sr High School graduation over the weekend.

When asked how she felt of her acceptance to US Merchant Marine Academy, she said she was caught off-guard and completely surprised.

“I thought I was going to renew my K-Badge,” she told the Journal, after being called to the headquarters of the US Army Garrison-Kwajalein Atoll on April 24. Little did she know, her family and Garrison Commander Colonel Andrew Morgan were waiting to break the big news.

Candidates of the USMMA are selected among a pool of top achievers. Qualified applicants must posses higher than average GPAs among other criteria to be considered. USMMA website says 22 out of 100 applicants are admitted based on a rigorous selection process.

Akku was blessed to have been endorsed by President Hilda Heine as part of her application and selection process. Her older sister and Kwajalein Parliament Member Kitlang Kabua said Akku is first person from the Freely Associated States in the program.

Her new adventure will land her in Kings Point, New York, where she will undergo initial basic training-like introductory course called Plebe Summer — seven weeks of intense physical and mental training, which USMMA considers as the moment civilians transform into midshipmen. What follows would be three years of hands-on training and maritime exercises on the ocean.

Akku is passionate about giving back to her community and people in the maritime division. She is already planning on taking up jobs in the Marshall Islands that focus on maritime laws and care.

Akku is one of five graduating seniors from the Kwajalein Jr/Sr High School recognized for their acceptance to similar US programs. The five are part of a total 14 graduates honored during the honor assembly over the weekend.

Of the five, three are Marshallese. This includes Kaika Jacob, who will be attending the ROTC A at Nebraska University and Jotai Ninjine with his acceptance to the US Coast Guard Academy.

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