For most coastal people, the sea is part of their way of life – this is true for 29-year-old marine engineer Mary Roroipe. From an early age, Mary was exposed to seafaring through her late father’s small craft business, chartering passengers across the maritime province of Milne Bay. So, it comes as no surprise that Mary followed in her father’s footsteps by becoming a marine engineer after completing a marine cadetship, supported by an Australia Awards PNG scholarship.

Mary says education plays an important in society that allows us to explore more opportunities. However, there are numerous challenges in accessing education and in her experience, it was economic hardship.

Before pursuing a maritime career, Mary obtained a Diploma in Electrical Technology in 2015. Even while Mary worked as an electrical technician, she knew that her true passion was in maritime. This passion and her family’s seafaring background motivated Mary to apply for an Australia Awards PNG scholarship in 2018, enabling her to complete a cadetship at PNG Maritime College in 2021.

“[Growing up], when we encountered rough seas, I was amazed at how the crew would navigate small crafts in the waters of Milne Bay – they did so with excellent ship handling skills and knowledge. This crew were my father, uncles and brothers who do not possess tertiary maritime education but have rich traditional knowledge that is second to none. When I recalled these memories, it motivated me to become a marine engineer.”

While Mary drew on her family’s legacy for inspiration, the path to complete her cadetship was also a challenging time when she lost her father.

“I lost my mentor and role model. My late father inspired me to pursue a career in maritime because he owned and managed his small craft business for more than 10 – 15 years. After losing him, I almost gave up on my cadetship because I couldn’t accept the fact that I would progress in my career without him. I realise now that I can thrive because my father’s legacy lives on in me.”

For Mary, the cadetship was filled with valuable lessons that remain with her, still to this day.

“Your performance during the program is important, not just for evaluation but for your whole career path. So, learn as much you can as it determines your competency before becoming an officer.”

Mary added that everything taught in the cadetship is practical information that can be applied once onboard a vessel. She has progressed in her career, starting off as an engine cadet at Swire Shipping in 2019 to her current role at GSF Marine as an officer in charge of an engineering watch – this involves overseeing safe and proper operation of a ship’s main propulsion and power generation.

When Mary thinks of her scholarship experience, she remembers it as a life-changing opportunity.

“It has given me a new sense of direction and I’m proud of my achievement because I am able to carry out task that I never thought I could do. I was at home doing little jobs to assist my family when I got accepted into the scholarship program. Achieving a certificate in marine engineering has been rewarding because I have a better chance of employment to support my family.”

For those considering a maritime career, Mary encourages them to pursue it with courage. She says that seafaring is an attractive career that can connect you to the world but also has its challenges.

“Seafaring is very rewarding, but it is physically and mentally tough – you have responsibilities, and each day brings new challenges. Be prepared for that and always believe in your capabilities and strengths.”

It is this belief that has taken Mary far. Mary reminds potential scholarship applicants for the Maritime Cadetship for Women that: “a professional sea career begins with no expertise, from probably never being on a ship, to finally setting a foot on the gangway – it is all about starting somewhere.”

Australia Awards PNG scholarships continues to provide significant support for female participation in the maritime industry. The Maritime Cadetship for Women program empowers candidates with technical expertise, certifications, and the confidence to contribute meaningfully to the development of the maritime industry.

Visit for more information on applications for Intake 2025.