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Safe voyage

Maritime studies spring graduate dedicates research to seafarer welfare

special feature: Class of 2024

Part of a special feature celebrating and recognizing the Class of 2024 at Memorial.

By Madeline Meadus

The maritime world was a familiar and inspiring place for Morgane Sheppard while she was growing up. 

Morgane Sheppard stands in front of a railing in front of a large green space with a large city behind her. In the top left hand corner, there is a gold sash with the words "special feature" in it.
Marine Institute spring graduate Morgane Sheppard is collecting a M.Sc.(maritime studies) this week during convocation.
Photo: Submitted

“My father is a master mariner who worked in various fields in the maritime industry all my life,” said the spring graduate.

It is no wonder she is dedicating her graduate research to increasing supports for Newfoundland and Labrador seafarers’ welfare. 

Ms. Sheppard crossed the stage during convocation ceremonies at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre to receive a master of science degree in maritime studies (safety: the human element) on Tuesday, May 29. 

‘Unique industry’

Originally from Montreal, Que., Ms. Sheppard discovered her passion while completing an internship at the Montreal Seafarers’ Centre during her undergraduate degree. 

“I recognized a growing need for additional support of the men and women in this unique industry,” she said. “Meeting all the seafarers and the amazing people that work there really pushed me into my field.” 

As part of her master’s thesis research, Ms. Sheppard spent three months at the International Maritime Organization in London, England, interviewing international seafarers and stakeholders.

Woman standing on bridge with water and the London skyline in the background.
Morgane Sheppard during her research trip in London, England.
Photo: Submitted

The experience gave her a broader view of the maritime field.

“I was able to attend many different international events and seminars. It was an opportunity I found on my own, but the Marine Institute and Memorial University supported me through this experience.”

Ms. Sheppard is already impacting the provincial maritime industry outside of the classroom.

She is an active member of the Port Welfare Committee and presents on her research in pursuit of her goal to create a seafarer centre based in St. John’s.

“If you’re somebody that is really interested in . . . being an innovator and being creative, 100 per cent go for it.” — Morgane Sheppard

Ms. Sheppard recently travelled to Morocco to attend the International Harbour Masters Association Conference. 

The conference happens every two years and brings together harbour masters, port authorities and other stakeholders from around the world.

In September 2023 she was both an organizer and presenter of a seminar held at the Marine Institute that focused on restarting a Seafarers’ Welfare Centre in Newfoundland and Labrador.

A woman standing in a conference room. Chairs and desks are in the background.
Morgane Sheppard at the UN conference.
Photo: Submitted

“We have funding and support from all over for the seafarer centre, so the possibility is becoming a reality, which is so exciting,” she said.

In addition, she completed an internship with the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development, where she worked on the creation, testing and promotion of courses for the maritime community.

As someone who wants to be a force of change in the industry, Ms. Sheppard knows she chose the right program and says she is not finished yet.

She plans to pursue a PhD to expand on her research.

Her advice for other young people pursuing their education?

“If you’re somebody that is really interested in doing something different, being an innovator and being creative, 100 per cent go for it.”

The text "class of 2024" is in gold against a claret background with gold bubbles and subtle circles. There is a gold sash with the text "special feature" on it in the upper left-hand corner.

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