More than 500 people attended SUNY Maritime College’s annual Admiral’s Scholarship Dinner to honor Tom Higgins, chief administrative officer of First Data, and astronaut Capt. Scott Kelly.
“Both of these men have achieved extraordinary heights,” said Rear Adm. Michael Alfultis, college president. “They are great friends of the college and I am personally grateful for their support and proud to honor them.”
Higgins, a member of the college’s class of 1980, was the event’s honoree. He leads First Data’s version of homeland security operations, including cyber security, physical security, business resiliency and crisis management. He spent more than 20 years working for the federal government. A Navy veteran, throughout his career Higgins has been an active advocate for veterans support and employment programs.
Kelly, who was given a special recognition at the event, became a celebrity earlier this spring when he returned from the International Space Station after an 11-month stay. He is the American who holds the record for the longest time in space. The mission’s aim was to determine how humans react to long periods in space. A retired Navy pilot, he graduated from SUNY Maritime in 1987.
The dinner is the college’s largest fundraiser, and the proceeds support and create student scholarships. This year’s event was one of the most successful in the history of the event, raising $745,000 from ticket sales, sponsorships and a scholarship auction.
“These scholarships help us to recruit the best and brightest to Maritime College,” said Alfultis. “The young men and women at this college represent the best of their generation and are extremely deserving of any and all assistance they receive. I am continually impressed by their dedication, their energy and their potential as industry leaders.”