EASTERN Alumna Spotlight: Sonora Rooney

Left to right: Steve Parke, Collision Repair Technology Instructor and Sunny Rooney

Left to right: Steve Parke, Collision Repair Technology Instructor and Sunny Rooney

Eastern Center for Arts and Technology (EASTERN) 2015 Collision Repair Technology/Bishop McDevitt High School graduate, Sonora (Sunny) Rooney, is currently a Merchant Mariner. She is working on her Bachelor of Science degree at the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York, on a full scholarship of $250,000. She will complete her education in 2022. Currently, there is a 13 percent female population in the Merchant Marine Academy – 30 females in a class of 280.

For five years of her childhood, Rooney lived on a boat. It was there that she developed a love and respect for the U.S. Coast Guard – which became, and continues to be, a career goal for her. When Rooney was in 11th grade, she and her father decided to tour EASTERN after hearing from an EASTERN representative at Bishop McDevitt. She found Collision Repair Technology to be the best fit for her as it combined her love of hands-on work and her interest in cars.

After graduating from EASTERN and Bishop McDevitt High School, she worked for one year as the Assistant Facilities Manager at Officer’s Christian Fellowship’s White Sulphur Springs, located in Western Pennsylvania. A Merchant Marine Retreat came through the recreational center and Rooney spoke with several midshipmen. She learned more about how the Academy could be a stepping stone for her planned career of serving in the U.S. Coast Guard as a Search and Rescue Helicopter Pilot.

She is now taking marine engineering courses including high level math, chemistry, and physics. In return for the scholarship she was awarded, she will be required to serve eight years in the Navy Reserves or five years on active duty, as well as maintaining a Coast Guard License and being active in the Marine industry for six years. During her sophomore year she will sail for four months, applying everything she has learned in the classroom. Upon her return, she will continue her education for another five months and return to sea for eight months before graduating.

“The Merchant Marine Academy is a very hands-on learning environment,” said Rooney. “Collision Repair Technology at EASTERN really helped me learn how to get things done. I also learned the importance of taking careful note of processes so that I can refer to them later. It’s amazing how everything just fits into place! EASTERN provided me with the foundation I needed to succeed in school and will help me in my Coast Guard career.”

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