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A Semester at Naval Academy

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Engelhardt Photo Greetings and Happy New Year! I apologize for the large time gap between my blogs, but I got tied up with school work, extracurricular activities, and general life at the Naval Academy. As I begin my spring semester again back at my home Academy, I thought that it was only fitting that I reflect on my time in Annapolis, and offer some quick differences and similarities between the two academies that I have had the privilege to attend.

 

As mentioned in my August 2014 blog, I can’t state enough how welcoming the Brigade of Midshipmen at the Naval Academy was, and especially 16th Company. They accepted a new classmate with open arms and were quick to make me part of their daily lives, which I am extremely grateful for. I truly think that the connections that I made at USNA are as deep as the connections that I have made with some of my classmates here at CGA, and I don’t think that it is over-exaggerated to say that I have made several lifelong friends.

 

It’s amazing how similar life at the two academies is – they truly are closer to being the same than they are different. Both schools are obviously military, so they have similar things that come with that – formations, mandatory trainings and classes, inspections, military drill and reviews, etc. They also have similar restrictions on your personal life such as limited times that you can leave the campus. Both schools also put a strong emphasis on sports and physical fitness, and emphasis that is rarely found at any civilian college. They both also both foster strong friendships between classmates and are home to truly outstanding people.

 

However, for all the things that the academies do have in common, they also have several differences. Most of the differences I feel are brought about because of the different sizes and locations of the schools.

 

The Naval Academy is approximately four times larger in size, and with that size comes opportunities in academics and the community that I feel that the Coast Guard Academy cannot replicate. As example, it’s hard for us to go directly to medical school out of CGA, which is possible at Navy, because we are needed immediately in the Coast Guard fleet. The size also helps the Naval Academy have a larger presence in the surrounding community. However, a benefit of the Coast Guard Academy’s smaller size is that it allows you to truly know all your classmates, which is impossible at Navy. I feel that having stronger bonds with your classmates is one of the things I truly like about the Coast Guard Academy as compared to Navy.

 

The Naval Academy’s location in Annapolis, located less than an hour away from our nation’s capital, creates an influx of visitors, both civilian and military, that is unheard of at the Coast Guard Academy. There are multiple tourist groups that tour the Yard in Annapolis daily, while at the CGA there might be an occasional tour group once every couple of weeks. Additionally, it is a lot easier for higher level military officials to make the trip from D.C. to Annapolis than the sojourn up to New London, and for that reason you see more brass at Navy as compared to Coast Guard.

 

Overall, I really enjoyed my time at Navy. It was great to get a different perspective on the military and Academy life that would not have been offered to me if I did not take the opportunity. I will not soon forget marching on at the Army-Navy football game, dining out with 16th Company, nor the outstanding professors and friends that I made. That being said, I know in my heart that CGA is the school for me, and the Coast Guard is the military branch for me. Despite the colder weather, I am definitely happy to be among my classmates and friends back in New London this spring. As always, if you have any questions about the Coast Guard Academy, the Coast Guard, the military, or any other subject that you would value my insight, I invite you to email me at James.D.Engelhardt@uscga.edu. Until next time, Semper Paratus and Go Bears!

 

More about James.

 

Returning Home to the Academy

(Just for Fun, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Daniels Photo For some reason this year, as I find myself returning to the monochromatic Chase Hall, there is no longer the sense of dread there was previously. I almost looked forward to returning and being with my friends and getting back into the routine of the Academy. By no means was winter leave unwelcome, a respite was both needed and gladly accepted, but there is something about a routine that helps me be much more productive than my lazy self on leave.

 

For the first time at the Academy, I earned a place on the athletic directors list. To do this, I had to score well enough on the fitness exam, which, while never being a concern of mine, has never been one of my strengths either. It was one of the prouder moments in my cadet career so far, I found myself finally able to see a concrete result of the work I had been doing.

 

This upcoming semester, I’m also starting a new program with the Connecticut College Orchestra, through which a few cadets will be able to participate in their program. I’ve been trying to revive cadet music, and this is a big step for us, because the program will allow for option for cadets who can’t participate in other groups due to time constraints, and allow a little more participation. On another musical note, our cadet-run brass ensemble had our first performance at the winter formal. Everything went smoothly, and we’re looking forward to another great semester of music.

 

Until next time!

 

More about Drew.

 

Unforgettable Moments

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Martorell Crespo Photo My cadet experience has been really nice. It has been a fun and exciting experience. Being here at the Academy is something unique and cadets have unforgettable moments. On the weekends, we have leave Saturday afternoon and return at midnight and Sundays, we leave in the morning and return at 1800. Being out of Chase Hall is something nice and you get to relax outside for a little bit with your friends. I usually hang out with my friends or see my sister when she comes from West Point to visit me.

 

Also, we had a ballroom dance and it was something enjoyable to experience for the first time being a fourth class. You go with your date or with your friends, dance and have a great time! You get full carry on and as a fourth class you are just happier than ever! So far, my cadet experience has been about fun, academics, and unforgettable moments. Starting from the very first day as a fourth class and until now, it has been something I will never forget.

 

More about Irene.

 

The Academy Summer Experience

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Seaman Photo One of the main things that attracted me to the Academy was the summer experiences cadets have. Unlike most other colleges, the Coast Guard Academy allows cadets to work in the operational Coast Guard by sending them to cutters, small boat stations, and air stations depending on which class you are. For the first part of this summer, I worked at a small boat station in Fort Lauderdale for five weeks. This experience was extremely rewarding and it served as a great transition from 4/c to 3/c year. Station Fort Lauderdale opened my eyes to a part of the Coast Guard that I had not been exposed to yet. I learned about the station’s responsibilities and daily routines and was able to contribute by earning qualifications. Along with achieving a communications qualification and making ground in becoming a boat crew member, my classmates who were with me and I were exposed to even more experiences the Coast Guard has to offer. We shot pistol, learned defense tactics, and even got getting pepper sprayed out of the way. These involvements taught me a lot about ways I can improve because it is impossible to be perfect one hundred percent of the time. It also boosted my confidence by giving me valuable interactions with Coast Guard members.

 

Since the main goal of this summer is to learn the junior enlisted member’s role in the Coast Guard, I spent time getting to know the crew members and engaging in the work they do on a daily basis. I observed that their role in carrying out the mission is huge, thus teaching me to value and respect the hard work of everyone. This summer was informative and a blast. I am grateful for the experience I gained and the preparation it gave me in becoming a 3/c cadet.

 

More about Rachel.

 

New Semester, More Responsibility

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Stowes Photo Happy New Year, CGA blog readers! I hope you all had a great time celebrating the arrival of 2015, because I certainly did. I hope 2015 will be the best year yet. For me, it means in just a year and a few months, I will be graduating this fine institution. I am incredibly excited to get going this semester. Usually I am apprehensive coming back from leave or summer, but this semester I was excited to come back.

 

The week we come back from winter leave is called the Midyear Administrative Processing week (MAP week for short). We all get new roommates and move everything we own into new rooms. Usually, MAP week is pretty relaxed. We have all sorts of trainings to go to, but without the pressure of academics, MAP week is a breeze. For me, this MAP week has been very busy. In addition to all the trainings and the fitness test, I have a lot of extra responsibility this semester because I will be a guidon.

 

A guidon is the lead second class in each company. We are expected to be the standard for military excellence, and our primary responsibility is to train and supervise the fourth class for the whole semester. As a guidon, I have a lot of responsibility, but I also have a lot of flexibility to do what I want to train the fourth class in the most effective manner. I have wanted to be a guidon since I was a fourth class because I have always endeavored to better myself and to pursue leadership opportunities. As a leader, I take my responsibility very seriously, and I approach every opportunity to lead with an open mind to change. I take great care to ensure that I balance the demands I place on my subordinates. The mission, to effectively train the fourth class, must be balanced with taking care of them as people. Guidons can be known for making the fourth class’ lives much more difficult, but I strive to make their lives more enjoyable. I plan to motive them to do their jobs because they see the value in doing it for themselves. I will use every tool I have to motivate them, but I plan to use rewards and recognition of good performance as the primary tools to encourage them to be the best that they can be.

 

Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible for me to tell you everything I have to as a guidon. However, if you are the parent of a fourth class, or if you know one, I can assure you that I will take good care of them. I have put in hours of work every night this week to organize and think up ideas to train these cadets. All of the guidons here care about the fourth class, and we are working hard to transform them into better cadets, people, and future officers.

 

If you want to know more about MAP week and the trainings, or about what I am asked to do as guidon, please feel free to email me anytime at Hunter.D.Stowes@uscga.edu. Happy New Year! Go 2015! I hope to hear from you soon.

 

More about Hunter.

 

The Importance of Shipmates

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Fruhwirth Photo Winter leave. Possibly the greatest two words I have ever heard. First semester finished, finals completed, and halfway through one of the most challenging years of my life. Two weeks to finally go home, reconnect with my family and high school friends, and momentarily forget about all the stressors the Academy brings. Coming back was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I wanted more than anything to sign those drop papers and join my friends at a civilian school, having fun for the next four years and living a somewhat carefree life. This past week has been difficult, no longer home with my friends and back to waking up every morning before the sun. I wouldn’t be able to be doing this if it weren’t for my shipmates. The greatest part of this school is the bond you make with everyone here. We pick each other up, we have each other’s back, we look out for everyone—we’re a team. My shipmates have made me laugh and reminded me to keep a positive attitude and focus on all of the great things coming to us at the end of this semester—such as boards (carry-on!!!) and our summer trainings. Though it is difficult right now and might get worse before it gets better, the important part is that it will get better and I know I will always have people in my corner cheering me on regardless of the circumstances.

 

More about Ainsley.

 

And We’re Back!

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Corbett Photo Yes ladies and gentleman of the interweb the corps has returned in its entirety this week from our interim winter break. This time of year can be bleak as the days grow short. I notice this mainly because I hear the sound of evening colors from my room go off sooner and sooner with each passing day. These darkening days can cause bleakness among the corps due to the latter mentioned darkness in addition with the bitterness of the winter air. But there is a light!

 

You see, a revelation has happened here at the Academy. Upon returning, the class of 2017, my class, is faced with looking ahead. We are already being trained for, and talked to about, the impending summer, which is supposedly our most important summer, so I am told… I guess this makes sense as this summer we are no longer under-class, but just not upper-class. We are thrown into the fire and allowed to orchestrate out a leadership style of our own to be implemented on the incoming class. Now the question rests on my mind…how do I lead the incoming class?

 

Until now, I haven’t given leadership much thought. I, more or less, just do rather than stop and talk about the “what” and “why” of my doings. Lately, however, I have come to a keen understanding that developing my leadership is important to not only this summer, but to myself. I owe it to myself to take the time to really learn the “what” and “why”. That way, when I first lay eyes on the swabs I will know exactly how to handle them.

 

With that I have started developing a leadership philosophy so let me know if I have gone off the tracks here. Through my own experience, observations, and readings this is the down and dirty of what I believe. My two cents if you will.
 

  1. Influence vs. Power: You can have all the positional power in the world, but you will never be as strong a leader as the person who has the most influence. If people feel some divine desire to do what you ask rather than a nagging need to, you will succeed more often than the one who relies on position.
  2. Punishment vs. Reward: Swab Summer, time to yell and do push ups right? Sure, but in good measure. When punishment or reward is abused and out of balance, no growth is made. It all becomes routine, finding the balance between the two will have much more of an impact than doing countless push ups.
  3. Resource vs. Boss: Lastly is this idea of being a resource. As a leader, it can be more beneficial to be seen as a colleague or resource. You should be guiding people in the right direction by feeding them information and wisdom. Then they can function autonomously. If you act as a “do what I say” or “boss” type leader, people will not have as much respect for you and will not feel a part of the team.

 

That is just the down and dirty of my beliefs. If you are a team captain or are looking for a leadership position and want to talk to someone just shoot me an email! Or if you have questions on anything about the Academy please don’t hesitate!

Have an American day,
Shane Corbett
Shane.P.Corbett@uscga.edu 

 

More about Shane.

 

Throwback Thursday: Winter Wondering What to Do

(Just for Fun, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Sherman Photo Last February I worked on a collaboration video with my classmate and fellow blogger Luke Carani. In honor of the 2014 winter Olympics we put together a video about the fun activities available to us during the cold winter months. The only thing is that school and other things got in the way, and I wasn’t able to finish editing the video in time to get it out during the winter. So I waited until this winter to put it out as a way to remind myself that just because it’s cold, there is not reason why we still can’t have fun and stay active outside this winter! Check it out!

*Special thanks to artist Har Megiddo for the use of his music in this video.

Justin's video blog YouTube Icon

 


More about Justin.

 

Finals, Break and Returning to the Academy

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Eshleman Photo So the first semester has come and gone. It is hard to believe that I am 1/8 of the way through my journey at the USCGA. Although I may have never thought on R-Day that I would make it this far, it has been one heck of a roller coaster ride. Finals approached right before winter leave. One difference I noticed between civilian college and the USCGA is that finals week is a lot more enjoyable at the Academy! While civilian college students cram to learn months’ worth of materials in one night, cadets here (including myself) use the free time during the day to study, but not having sports, extra military obligations, clubs, or classes makes finals week a bit more relaxing than the normally hectic work days.

 

Once finals were finished, I booked a train out of New London and went back home to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It was great to be home. I saw family from all over the country and spent a lot of time relaxing and enjoying the time with old friends. I have heard that coming back to the Academy after winter leave is not enjoyable for fourth class, but honestly coming back was not difficult since I knew all of my friends are like family here and I would get to see them once I walked back in through the doors.

 

More about Hannah.

 

A Taste of the Old Days

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Auzenbergs Photo I am back from winter leave, two weeks when life almost seemed normal again. At home, I spent the majority of my time hanging out with friends, visiting with family, and sleeping. I forgot just how simple life was living with the familiar faces of my parents and brother, spending every night out late with friends, and having the ability to sleep in with no 6 a.m. reveille! During that time I thought a lot about the college experience I was getting, as compared to most of my high school classmates. It was extremely different in so many ways, but at the same time, similar. I did not find it hard to relate to these friends, as so many cadets claim. We talked about schedules, classes, new friends, old friends, and our versions of fun. Though the stories were not the same, the common sense of being a “freshman” again was still present.

 

Those two weeks re-energized me with a taste of the old days, a much needed reminder that I still have the friends from home, who mean the world to me; but a more prominent reminder that the life I knew now belongs to the Coast Guard. As hard as it is to accept while being at home with no worries, the minute I got back to the Academy I was reminded it was the right path. This does not mean that I don’t ever question why I got myself into this, because I do. It helps to scroll through old pictures, reminiscing and laughing about old memories, then switch gears and look ahead at my future in the real Coast Guard because those experiences will surely make it all worth it.

 

More about Gabrielle.

 

Parents' Weekend: A Deeper Meaning

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Ritchie Photo The atmosphere of the Academy changes immensely when everyone’s families are here. Cadets and their family members all wear ear-to-ear grins; they’re overjoyed to see each other. We often talk about the strong support network that cadets have, but it’s really something to see it. Families come from all over the country, and some from other countries, for Parents’ Weekend. Cadets whose parents can’t come are taken in by other families so they’re not alone. We become one big Coast Guard family instead of 1,000 individual ones.

 

This year, I noticed a huge difference in myself from last Parent’s Weekend. As a 3/c, I’m more confident and comfortable here and less reliant on my parents’ support. Every time my parents left after visiting last year, I cried. This year, it’s was a “see you next time!” and no tears. (Don’t get me wrong, I still need and appreciate all the support my parents give me, but I’m also a lot more independent.) Also, this year, I spent as much time as I could enjoying my mom’s company instead of worrying about homework and indoc all weekend. I didn’t even bring any homework with me to the hotel. I had a lot to do Sunday night, but I don’t regret it.

 

I could see how nervous some 4/c parents were because they didn’t know what to expect or were almost discomforted by the amount their sons and daughters had changed and grown up. For some, it was the first time they’d seen each other since R-Day. With those nerves comes pride. It is wonderful to see how proud each and every parent is of his or her cadet. My mom has a shirt that says, “Some people never meet their heroes… I raised mine.” I know that a lot of other parents feel the same way. You can see it in their smiles and feel it in their hugs. I found it heartwarming when I saw a cadet holding their parents’ hands like she was still their little girl. It’s those signs of love and support that give Parents’ Weekend a much deeper meaning.

 

More about Sarah.

 

Militarily, Academically, Athletically

(Academics, Athletics, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Ellis Photo Hi everyone!

I’m so sorry that it has been so long since I have written last; my semester has been one of the busiest I have had so far! I’ll give you a little look at what I’ve been up to last semester militarily, academically and athletically.

 

Militarily – Last semester I was the Support MAA for Foxtrot Company. This position helps the Guidon train the 4/c as well as helps the 1/c Support Department Head with their duties. With this responsibility I worked with the 4/c and I answered questions and supported the Guidon with their roles. This was a great experience for me because I got to learn about my own leadership style and figure out ways to improve it.

 

Academically – This was my best semester yet academically. I took very interesting major-specific classes. I took Fisheries Biology, where I learned everything I could ever want to know about fish and took an awesome field trip to Mystic Aquarium! I took Ocean Dynamics where I learned about how water travels in the ocean and the physics behind it. The last MES class that I took was GIS or Geographic Information Systems. This is a class where you create a map using computer software that you can then use to spatially analyze data. It was one of my favorite classes that I have taken and at the end of the course we got to work in groups and solve a marine problem from beginning to end. I really enjoyed all my classes and can’t wait to take more major-specific courses.

 

Athletically – Once again, I sailed last semester. The team had one of its best seasons in a long time. The women’s team was ranked 1st in the entire nation for a month! So that being said, we really did have a great season. We worked hard on and off the water to do that well and we are going to continue working hard to get ready for the spring season and hopefully qualify for Nationals again this year!

 

Now that I let you know a little of what I have been doing, I’ll give you a heads up on the things I have coming up in the future! I have so much to be excited for – Ring Dance, school, sailing, and 1/c summer! I’ll make sure I write more often this semester! As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to email me at Kayla.M.Ellis@uscga.edu.

 

More about Kayla.

 

The Academic Year

(Academics, Just for Fun, Class of 2018) Permanent link
 Martorell Crespo Photo Being a fourth class is tough but fun at the same time. First semester is almost over and now I can’t wait to start second semester. We always have homework plus other tasks that we have to accomplish, but that is just preparing us even more.

 

I have learned the importance of time management and setting goals while being here at the Academy. If you want to do well, you have to do your homework every day, use your time wisely, pay attention in class and never fall asleep. Academics here are a challenge, but if others have made it through, why can’t I? Every day I am busy and don’t usually have time to go out and talk with my friends. Some weekends I don’t even leave the Academy because of the quantity of work I have. But if you want to succeed you have to sacrifice.

 

I always try to work ahead and seek help when I don’t understand something. As time passes by, I enjoy being here more and more. You have a lot of school work but you can have fun at the same time. Upon arriving here at the Academy, I thought I would only have time to study and never have the opportunity to socialize or relax, but there is always time for everything. I study, but also there are times where you can have a morale night and get carry-on, get smoothies, talk with your friends, and have fun. In the end, working hard is worth it.

 

More about Irene.

 

Coast Guard Academy Scholars Program, What’s That?

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Kimura Photo CGAS – Coast Guard Academy Scholars program. I wished somebody covered that topic in a cadet blog when I was accepted into the program during my senior year. I had no idea what to expect. I never heard of it before I received the acceptance phone call, and the Academy website vaguely explained the program’s details. There is relatively no advertisement for the CGAS program because candidates cannot apply for it. The program is similar to other service academies’ preparatory school programs, in which the Academy sends potential cadets to a year of schooling to improve certain areas, such as academics or physical fitness, before joining the next year’s class. Although I joined the program feeling uninformed, I have not regretted the decision, or opportunities it provided me.

 

A few questions I had going into the program:

What does CGAS consist of?
Well, it starts with a three-week training period, almost like a compressed version of Swab Summer, full of the yelling and running around campus. Those three weeks are challenging physically and mentally, but creates everlasting bonds with the other scholars. At the conclusion of the three weeks, the Academy sends the scholars to one of two military schools, Marion Military Institute in Alabama, which I attended, or Georgia Military College. The curriculum consisted of English composition, general chemistry, general physics, pre-calculus or calculus, military training class, and in some cases like mine, band.

 

What is the difference between attending a regular school and re-applying versus going to one of the Academy’s prep schools?
I originally thought I might as well attend a civilian college for a year and re-apply, rather than committing a year at a prep school far away from home. However, I did not realize the benefits of how well the academics could prepare me, becoming adjusted to a military schedule, and the lasting friendships I would make with future classmates.

 

If you have any questions regarding the CGAS program or preparatory school, please feel free to contact me.

 

More about Amy.

 

Part of a Team

(Athletics, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Coburn Photo As I have mentioned before, I plan on playing lacrosse here at the Academy. There are a lot of changes to the lacrosse team this year; the team is moving from a club sport to a varsity Division III team, there is a new coach, and there is also a different dynamic to the players, considering I am one of eight or more 4/c that are on the team this year. Since it is a varsity sport now we were able to play some lacrosse as a team during the fall, we had practice three days a week and yesterday we had a tournament at Springfield College where we competed against a wide variety of Division III teams as well as one Division II team. Not only was this a great way to put what we had learned during fall ball into action, but it also was an opportunity for us to all play together as a real team for the first time.

 

Now that fall ball is over we will have winter strength and conditioning training until the regular season practices start in January. Although the practices are going to be a little chilly, we can look forward to going to North Carolina with the team during Spring Break!

 

Being a part of the team here at the Academy is really a good way to meet new people, including upperclassman. Although you can’t be “friends” just being able to talk to an upperclassman you trust about anything will really make your time here smoother and easier in a way. I have three 1/c on my team who are actually in my company as well and they are always willing to help me whenever I need it. Being on the team also helps you create friendships with girls that may not be in your company and therefore you don’t focus too much on just your company.

 

More about Mimi.

 

Things Learned and Observed in Just 10 Weeks

(Athletics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Burchill Photo Mid-term grades are out and cross country season is winding down but it feels like I just got my shoulder boards yesterday. The days are long by the weeks sure fly by! Parents’ Weekend was last weekend and it was so incredibly awesome to see my parents whom I haven’t seen since Reporting-In Day (Wow! that seems like a lifetime ago). The leaves are changing and this beautiful campus is turning picture perfect. The New England weather and seasons are a big change from land-locked Oklahoma.

 

Nature isn’t the only thing changing around here. I’ve found myself changing in such a positive way; better study habits, improvement in stress management, and even getting faster in cross country. I’m finally getting the hang of tasks that seemed ever so overwhelming to me at the start. It didn’t take me too long to find all the helpful resources provided here at the Academy. One of the great things they offer here are peer tutors. These tutors are there to assist with academics in all subjects and if one takes advantage of these tutors, success is sure to blossom. That is what I find so great about the Academy, everyone there to help you, not out to get you.

 

There are days that are tough but with the help and support of my shipmates, I plow through those difficult days and leave it all in the past. In less than a month, I will be going home for the first time in a few months for Thanksgiving leave then finals will creep up around the corner. The more I live here, the more I love it. Of course there are tedious fourth class jobs that we must do but at the end of the day looking back on it, they’re not too bad.

 

Feel free to contact me at Rachel.K.Burchill@uscga.edu.

 

More about Rachel.