Jennifer Del Angel was a bored teenager during summer break when her mom signed her up for a camp at the San Jacinto College Maritime Technology and Training Center in 2015.
Now 21, Del Angel has graduated from the institution and is one of the youngest captains with Sea Tow Galveston.
"I didn't know what maritime was when I went to my first camp," she said. "I just needed something to do for the summer. I ended up learning so much about the industry and the different job opportunities."
Del Angel returned for summer camp two more times before enrolling as a student in the maritime transportation program in fall 2018.
"I fell in love with the maritime industry and working with my hands," she said. "It's a whole different world out on the water, and I wanted to be part of it."
As a student, Del Angel completed internships with Texas Mooring LLC and Sea Tow Galveston.
"Both companies kept me on, even after the internship period was over," she said. "I stayed with Texas Mooring in a mechanical role for a year, and my internship at Sea Tow Galveston gave me a wider range of experience working with the U.S. Coast Guard and learning how the industry operates in and out of the water."
After earning her associate degree, Del Angel received an offer for a full-time position as a deckhand with Sea Tow Galveston. A year later, she earned her captain's license and commands her own boat with the company.
"Our senior captain was deployed to the National Guard for over a month and Jennifer stepped up in his absence," said Elizabeth McMillin, manager, Sea Tow Galveston Bay. "Her mechanical inclinations have made her so valuable, and her attention to detail is terrific. She has really been an amazing asset to the company."
As a young woman in a male-dominated industry, Del Angel enjoys defying others' expectations.
"I look young for my age," she said. "Sometimes when I pull up during a job, the client thinks my deckhand is the captain. I love showing them that I'm more than competent."
Del Angel credits her drive to prove she can be the best to her parents and her mentor, Captain Amy Arrowood, San Jac maritime credit program director.
"Captain Amy has helped me a lot," she said. "She fought for me and helped me get my internships. I look at her as a role model of what women in our industry can achieve."
Del Angel plans to continue learning in the industry, possibly qualifying to captain larger vessels in the future.
"Saying yes and trying new things brought me to that first maritime camp," she said. "Now I have a career I love. My education has opened up a world of opportunity for me, and I'm forever grateful."