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CADET BLOGS

cadet blogs

Looking Forward to a Bright Future

(Academics, Just for Fun, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Carani Photo I’ve been meaning to right this blog entry for awhile now, but I just haven’t seemed to find the time. Rather, I suppose I should say I haven’t quite made the time. Not because I haven’t wanted to write, but because in writing I am forced to stop and reflect. And quite frankly, it is strange to reflect on where I am right now. It seems so strange that I am now writing my first blog entry as a firstie. It seems like just yesterday that I was beginning to write as a 4/c cadet, worried about tests, and grades, and cleaning, and taking out trash and other trivial things. And now, although I still work hard in classes, my mind has turned to much weightier things – such as wedding and honeymoon planning, first billet options, and preparing for the lifelong adventure known as marriage.

 

I have been hearing it throughout my entire time at the Academy, but firstie year DEFINITELY is the best. Having a car, more responsibility, and being trusted by our superiors to take ownership of our leadership positions has been amazing. In my major, the 1/c cadets in the Mathematics department will soon be getting our senior capstone projects, where we will be assigned problems submitted from the Coast Guard fleet to be solved. We will meticulously work on, mull over, trouble-shoot, and eventually solve and present a solution to the problem submitted at the end of the spring semester. And we will actually have an impact on the Coast Guard!

 

These first seven weeks of being back at the Academy have flown by. Honestly, it is in large part due to the fact that I have so much to look forward to! My fiancé is flying out to visit next weekend (she’s literally the greatest), I’ll be home for Thanksgiving and receive the billet list, and then the second semester is non-stop fun as I prepare for the many last milestones in my cadet career and prepare to enter the fleet! I am trying to remain dialed in and focused on the responsibilities that I have here at the Academy, but I would be kidding myself if I said I wasn’t VERY much looking forward to the bright future ahead for me and my fiancé.

 

More about Luke.

 

Can I Go To Flight School, Now?

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Just for Fun, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Roesch Photo Wow – it’s already October and I haven’t wrote a blog since the summer. This is unusual, and I’m totally sorry. This semester is flying by in a whirlwind, but I guess that’s a good thing! This semester I am the 2/c in the Parents Weekend Division, which means a lot of preparation, organizing, and work. I’m also busy at work with the Aviation Club and, now, the dance team which I just joined this year. So far, fall of 2/c year is great and I’m lovin’ it.

 

Reflecting on this past summer, which was by far the best one yet at the Academy, my favorite experience was the Cadet Aviation Training Program (CATP). I spent a week at Air Station Mobile in Mobile, Alabama to get a good taste of what aviation is like. I always knew before going that flying was something I wanted to do; however, after this week I was 100% assured of this. I left Mobile with the greatest sense of fulfillment. I felt like I really found my “purpose” in life. I love the aviation community, the missions of the various aircraft, and, most importantly, I love the sheer act of flying.

 

I had the opportunity to actually fly a 65 (a type of helicopter) which was THE coolest thing I’ve ever done. I still feel slightly embarrassed recalling the pilot who laughed at me saying I looked like a little kid on Christmas when I took the controls. However, I am proud of that. It just goes to show that I’ve truly found my little piece of happiness in the Coast Guard. I loved my experience so much that I plan on requesting assignment to an air station my 1/c summer. And, of course, I am going to apply to flight school. Hopefully I will be honored with that opportunity come billet night.

 

But billet night is a long way away. As for now, I’m focusing on getting good grades, setting a good example for now my 3/c and 4/c, and staying positive about life in general. I guess it goes without saying that I’m pretty happy with where I’m at and I’m excited for what the rest of 2/c year has to bring.

 

Please email me with any questions you may have about anything. I love helping out prospective kaydets! :)

 

More about Allie.

 

Peer Tutoring

(Academics, The Cadet Experience) Permanent link
Ritchie Photo Being a 3/c means more involvement and responsibility within the corps. It also means a greater number of opportunities. Through the past five weeks of being back at the Academy, I’ve been offered many chances to become more involved in all three fields of cadet life: academics, athletics, and military. The clubs and activities fair wasn’t rained out this year, so I signed up for several clubs there. After 4/c year and having become accustomed to Academy life, I want to take advantage of more of the opportunities offered here.

 

During CAP week, I found out that I had been recommended by an English teacher to become a peer tutor. Peer tutoring at the Academy is a program where cadets are trained and qualified to help other cadets with academic assignments. A peer tutor must attend eight hours of training and can earn an academic grade and credit hour by logging 24 hours of tutoring over a semester.

 

Being an English peer tutor comes naturally to me. I’ve always valued creativity, but at a military academy, it can be a hard skill to maintain. Expressing thoughts through writing and encouraging others to do so is one way I keep in touch with my creative side.

 

It is also a great opportunity to help other cadets succeed. Certain collaboration policies allow for only help from peer tutors or instructors, and some people are more comfortable asking other cadets for help than approaching teachers. Additionally, meeting with someone in Chase Hall is a lot more convenient than having to hike to an academic building at night. This is one of the great things about the Academy; there are so many ways to get help. Unlike an ROTC program where not everyone understands the challenges you face, everyone here is going through or has been through relatively the same thing. People are more than willing to help each other. There are countless support systems to help a person succeed if utilized.

 

If you have any questions, please contact me at Sarah.R.Ritchie@uscga.edu.

 

More about Sarah.

 

New Year, New Responsibilities

(Academics, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Schroeder Photo The new school year has finally started and I couldn’t be busier. After a seemingly short summer, this past month has been a blur. Over the summer, I had the opportunity to do a bunch of really cool things; my favorite being the Cadet Aviation Program (CATP), and the Coastal Sail Program.

 

For the CATP, I got to fly down to Elizabeth City, North Carolina for a week and ride on Coast Guard aircraft, both fixed wing and rotary. I also had the opportunity to get hoisted from the water into a helicopter, which is easily the coolest opportunity I have gotten while at the Academy.

 

The Coastal Sail Program is a two week transit on a 44-foot sailing yacht around New England to places such as Newport, Martha’s Vineyard, Block Island, Cape Cod and Nantucket. I was on a boat with seven of my classmates and a safety officer. This trip taught me a lot about leadership and what kind of leader I wanted to be because of the high amount of exposure to peer leadership. It was really cool to be sailing around New England and stop in such cool places as well.

 

The biggest thing of second class summer though is being cadre. I got to be Swab Summer cadre second phase, which was both tiring and rewarding. It served as a good transition into the school year because this fall I am my company’s guidon. The company guidon is basically the senior second class in charge of the training of the fourth class over the semester. Being Swab Summer cadre allowed me to get to know each of my fourth class very well, which has helped this semester.

 

Besides being guidon, I am very busy with my own academics and with rugby. This year is my major’s toughest year, and I am still trying to find a balance between school, sports, being guidon, and having a social life. Things are getting better each week though, and I am generally content with how life is going. I know that this semester will be very rewarding for me.

 

More about Jade.

 

Fifteen Things I Didn't Expect to Learn at West Point

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Frost Photo Going on exchange to another service academy is a unique opportunity that I'm lucky to get to experience. After six weeks of being at West Point, I've finally settled into a schedule with classes and grown closer with the triathlon team. Here are some things that I've learned and experienced over the past several weeks:

 

  1. At less than 5,000 cadets, West Point would be considered a small college to anyone, but it still seems ginormous to a Coastie. And, when everyone asks what the biggest difference between West Point and Coast Guard, the answer is the size every time.
  2. Thinking that because you are just one in a sea of 4.5 thousand, no one will notice you is the biggest lie you could tell yourself because navy blue ODUs do not blend in at all with Army green ACUs. You can be pinpointed from a mile away.
  3. Submersing yourself in a new environment is more challenging than expected, and it gives you a renewed understanding for what the 4/c are going through.
  4. No one understands how you talk; they don't understand your saltiness. The "deck" becomes merely the floor, "p-ways" are hallways, "bulkheads" are hallways, and "shipmates" are battle buddies.
  5. Everything has an acronym, and it's impossible to keep track of them.
  6. People will and do look at you like you have two heads for saying "Bears!" And "Go Bears!" to everything, and it's impossible to explain what needs no explanation to any CGA cadet.
  7. All 2/c cadets a called "cows." It's weird.
  8. You salute without a cover on in the Army and in both gym gear and cadet casual (a.k.a. rec gear).
  9. People will ask you what branch you are going into, and they are blown away when you say your options are flight school, deck watch officer, engineering officer in training, or sector. You quickly learn it's not worth trying to explain that it's not really "branching" like it is in the Army.
  10. Everyone thinks that "The Guardian" is representative of the entire Coast Guard, and they ask you every time if you're going to be Ashton Kutcher.
  11. You will spend all your money at Starbucks and the cadet restaurant, especially if you live closer to it than the mess hall, like me.
  12. Optional breakfast is the greatest thing a cadet could ask for, and West Point does it right. We're talking Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, granola, Nutella, Starbucks iced and hot coffee... It's good. However, you will quickly miss the wardroom dinner selection.
  13. A lot of really awesome speakers come to talk to cadets almost every week, and they are opportunities that you want to take advantage of.
  14. There are so many club sports teams and clubs to join. Joining the triathlon team here has been my best decision yet. You meet amazing people that are completely welcoming to exchangers, and it gives you a close-knit group to experience the semester with.
  15. You learn a lot about yourself. You learn how you handle change when you feel like you're the only one going through it, you learn what a different service values compares to the Coast Guard, and compared to your own, you learn how to lead others when you still need guidance yourself, and you learn how to learn from those whom you lead.

 

More about Christi.

 

A Month In

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Daniels Photo Here we are, already over a month into the school year, looking at being halfway done with many of our books. Looking at the semester so far, there’s one leadership trait I know I’m lacking, especially in those early mornings. Being an approachable 3rd class cadet is one of the most important things you can be. The new 4th class need people to look to for answers, and if you aren’t able to be there, then they lack that figure. I’m trying to make myself more approachable so that I can be of the most use, starting with my outlook on the day.

 

Something that carried over from last year for me was the stigma that each day would drag on and on, and there was not much to look forward to except sleeping the next night. I’ve changed that, and realized that within every day there are opportunities to make it better, enjoying the little things in each day, and being cheerful when responding to the monotonous greetings, inquiring about anyone’s day in a sincere fashion goes a long way here.

 

As winter approaches, it seems that the corps knows what’s coming, the feet of snow, bridgecoats and parkas, and sliding on the ice all the way down the hill. While we may not be able to run around and have all-out snowball wars, the crisp air brings on a feeling of anticipation, not just for the end of drill season, but also for the new year. Even though it’s a few moths still to come, the anticipation is growing. Graduation for some, boards and carry-on for others, new rooms, new roommates, and new classes. Until next time!

 

More about Drew.

 

Wired and Jubilant

(Athletics, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Daghir Photo Another week down and I am still trying to orient myself as a 2/c cadet. In my MES classes, in the cheer team, and in fall lacrosse! Each day is a whirlwind and even though a little windblown, I am having a lot of fun. We just had our biggest football game of the season: MMA, and I have to say it was unforgettable. For my past two games, we have been close, but not close enough to taking a stand against the Mariners. For the past two years, the pep rallies have meant well and the crowd has wanted to be rowdy and supportive and energized, but we have always seemed to fall short. This year though, the stars have aligned. We had a surprisingly fun pep rally, “rave” complete with black lights, strobe lights, fog, and glow sticks, the crowd was crazy and joyous, pumped for a number of reasons. The following days were full of spirit and we prepared for the game Saturday, determined to break the losing streak. The Bears came out strong but we had fallen behind by two touchdowns by the end of the first half. The cheerleaders led the crowd in chants and the entire corps remained focused and hopeful. Finally, we found our groove, the team scored, the fans wild, inspired by our Commandant, Admiral Z doing pushups beside the cheer leaders. I think the best part the game came in the form of a steady rain. The fans took it, in their tropical blue uniforms as if it was supposed to happen. With each success on the field came the explosion of confetti cannons and cheering, so much cheering. Toward the end, the crowd was dumping water bottles on themselves invincible to the rain and the water, completely wired and jubilant.

 

I didn’t even mind that I had night watch; I took a three hour nap and stood watch from midnight to 0400. On Sunday I did homework, helped with the Special Olympics event and then went to yoga! I’d say that all of my weekends have been that busy, throwing me full speed and accelerating through the school weeks.

 

As Close to a Normal College Experience

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Wu Photo Finally, as a first-class cadet, I am having the closest experience to a normal college possible at CGA. Having a car makes the world of a difference! It was so nice having all of my stuff in my car and being able to drive back to the Academy in August.

 

As a firstie, we now have the privilege of going out on Thursday nights in addition to Friday nights, and unlimited Saturday to Sunday overnights. Also, as a Department Head, which is a minor leadership role, I have the privilege of liberty on Wednesday nights as well. As a second-class cadet, I never used Friday night liberty because I was limited to where I could go. However, now with a car, I am able to drive to parks with running trails and go to yoga classes in Mystic. There is a lot more freedom to go out and do my favorite activities and hobbies. It is even easier to go home now that I have a car with me. This past weekend, I was able to drive home after the CGA vs. MMA football game and surprise my mom for her birthday. She was not even expecting it because normally a trip home takes three hours on a train and then another hour or so of mass transportation from Grand Central Terminal back to my house. It is a tiring process compared to a two hours car drive home.

 

Whether going home for the weekend or just being out in the Connecticut area, it is nice to take a break from the Academy since it often encloses the feeling of stress within the barracks. Even when I do not go out on a day that I have liberty, I like knowing that I have that outlet. This lifestyle is completely different from fourth-class year and it is so weird seeing how far the class of 2015 has come!

 

More about Ellie.

 

The Major Leagues

(Academics, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo My, oh, my! The school year’s ramped up so quickly that I missed a month! Well, y’all can’t get rid of me quite that easily, so here I am! Part of the reason I’ve been so busy is thanks to the return of that beautiful creature with which all Academy students are way too familiar – schoolwork! But, it’s a lot more entertaining for me this year. As a third class, cadets finally start taking classes that are specific to their major. For me as a Marine and Environmental Sciences major, those classes include meteorology, marine biology, and differential equations. Third class wind up with very heavy schedules because of that, but what else is new? It’s worth it to experience lab periods where we go out on a boat to collect plankton samples, or spend class time going through weather briefs! I love being a part of my major, and in talking to my classmates in other programs, I know they are also having a good time! It’s nice to finally start studying those topics for which I’ve been waiting since my first year here!

 

The Marine and Environmental Sciences major is one of the smaller ones, with only around 30 or so people in my class following its program. I consider it very valuable to Coast Guard operations – after all, to work in the ocean, we need to understand its characteristics, and to guard its inhabitants (as is one of our explicitly stated missions!), we have to expand our knowledge of how the environment works and what is threatening it. If you have any questions about being an MES major, or just Academy life in general, please feel free to email me at Abigail.A.Culp@uscga.edu! Beat Kings Point!

 

More about Abby.

 

Spirit Mission

(Just for Fun, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Driscoll Photo Every so often, especially if you are a firstie in a company or regimental command position, you get “spirit missioned.” A spirit mission is an attempt by the fourth class cadets to steal something of yours and replace it with a funny object, or change the layout of something to create a laughable inconvenience. I never realized how funny/annoying spirit missions are, until I served on the Regimental Staff this fall.

 

The first spirit mission fell on the first day of classes. I forget which company did it, but one set of 4/c stole every four, five, and six-striper’s shoulder boards and replaced them with blank 4/c shoulder boards. However, they forgot to take our extra pairs…so I wore my extra pair as a reminder to follow through the next time. Unfortunately for me, the Class of 2018 took that lesson to heart…

 

Yesterday, I came back from liberty to discover that my combination cover (my white hat that mildly resembles a bus-driver’s) was missing. In its place, the Echo 4/c had left a pink Hello Kitty fedora, with my cadet insignia wrapped around it. We wear our combination covers for drill practice on Monday mornings, so I had to wear my Hello Kitty fedora instead. As if I didn’t stand out enough already in a bright pink hat amongst a sea of white hats, the Charlie 4/c replaced all our swords with brooms. Thankfully, we made a clean sweep of drill!

 

It’s good to see the morale. I hope the 4/c help keep it high as we prepare to BEAT KINGS POINT and get through the rest of the semester.

As always, if you need anything, email me at Peter.M.Driscoll@uscga.edu.

 

More about Peter.

 

Rest of 2/c Summer and USNA Beginning

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Engelhardt Photo Greetings! Hopefully as your summer draws to an end and you begin to return to school you can look back on the amazing things that you did this summer – I know I certainly can.

 

After my first seven weeks of summer training at the Academy I came home for a deserved three weeks of leave. It was great being home, catching up with friends and family, and relaxing before beginning the 2nd half of my summer training.

 

When I returned to the Academy in mid-July, Swab Summer was already in full effect. It was definitely a new experience returning to Chase Hall and hearing swabs sounding off and running down the passage-ways. It was also quite the experience adapting to the challenge of having to avoid swabs during my prep week of cadre training, as the swabs were not supposed to know who the Eagle cadre were. As mentioned earlier, I had opted to be an Eagle cadre for Swab Summer, which meant that I would have the privilege to train the swabs on America’s Tall Ship, the USCGC Eagle, introducing many of them to their first taste of underway life and to the operational Coast Guard fleet.

 

As an Eagle cadre, my “prep” week was a little different than the majority of my classmates. Instead of learning how to properly encourage the swabs/AIMsters/cadet candidates through physical IT (like push-ups) or sounding off (yelling), my fellow Eagle cadre and I practiced the navigational skills that we had learned in our first two years of the Academy – including giving navigation briefs, using mobility boards, and practicing the role of a Conning Officer in the Academy’s simulators. We also got the opportunity to go to Mystic Seaport for a day. The Seaport is a local historical site that mimics a 19th century New England waterfront community. While there we learned more about sailing as well as celestial navigation and the various celestial phenomena. Lastly, during my “prep” week I took my physical fitness exam and my Standard Operating Procedure board to ensure that when I returned to the Academy after my two weeks aboard Eagle I could serve as an active cadre within Chase Hall.

 

Rest of 2/c Summer and USNA Beginning (Continued)  PDF 

 

More about James.

 

Back at the Academy

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Ritchie Photo After my summer training program, I had three weeks of leave. I went home and spent time with my family and high school friends. I thought three weeks would be short compared to my 11 week summer program, but it was a lot different than any previous summer for me. For the past few years, I’ve had swim practices, lifeguarding, swim lessons, and summer reading projects. This year, I didn’t have to worry about any of that. It was weird because all my friends were working on internships or at minimum wage jobs, and I had more free time than ever.

 

When leave ended, it was back to the Academy. I thought it was going to be a tough adjustment, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected. I remember last year, Cadet Administrative Processing (CAP) week was really stressful as a 4/c. As a 3/c, it was a lot easier. Now that I can look around the halls, talk to people like normal, and look at my food, it’s a completely different experience. I spent CAP week attending trainings and welcome back speeches and packing into my new room and company. As a 3/c, I act as a role model to a 4/c. Through the week, I helped my 4/c get the signatures of all the upper-class in the company (a task every 4/c must complete) and then helped him study indoc.

 

Now, I’ve finished my first week of school. I am taking 18 credits this semester, but it already seems like a lot less work than last year. It is 1.5 credits less to be exact, but I don’t have any labs or math classes. I am starting to take major specific classes now, and as a Management major, that means a lot more focus on writing papers than solving math problems. My favorite class so far is Intro to Business and Management. I’m looking forward to seeing what this semester holds for me, as I know it will be completely different from 4/c year.

 

If you have any questions about any of my blogs, please feel free to contact me at Sarah.R.Ritchie@uscga.edu.

 

More about Sarah.

 

Remarkable Transformation

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Pourmonir Photo I would like to start by saying that the weirdest part of this year is definitely being called ma’am. It is believed that the word ma’am was first used in 1668. In today’s society the definition of the word ma’am is a word used to politely reference a queen, a woman that you do not know, or one that ranks above you in the military or police. So my first thought is that I am not royalty, so this word ma’am should not apply. Then when the fourth class continued to greet me as ma’am, my next thought is that they know my name so clearly this common courtesy should not apply either. That leaves me with only one option. They must be greeting me for the position I hold. My thoughts entering this year were that I no longer had to complete the menial tasks of a fourth class cadet, but that my ranking among the corps of cadets had not really shifted. This fallacy was quickly proven false, as I entered the year as Ms. Pourmonir. This sign of respect is used throughout every branch of the military. It still baffled me that one year could change so much. Not only did I become a third class cadet, but I now have responsibility. Not the fourth class kind that requires taking out the trash, but the kind that involves being a role model for those around me and setting standards for others to follow.

 

This school year came with a lot of changes, but the biggest for me was this. Being a role model and having the chance to change someone’s life. Helping them through what some believe to be the hardest year for cadets at the United States Coast Guard Academy. I have two fourth class cadets that I share the responsibility of training and developing. I am in a place now where I can learn the fundamentals of leadership, through experience rather than in a classroom with a whiteboard. This leadership experience transforms each cadet into someone who will one day be leading the men and women of the United States Coast Guard. I am honored to have this opportunity, and wish everyone was able to experience the same remarkable transformation that we learn here at the Academy.

 

More about Keemiya.