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cadet blogs

What’s Important to You?

(Just for Fun, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Chang Photo Disclaimer: I’m writing this blog entry to procrastinate from doing actual work. However, in writing this entry I’m also being productive, so I don’t feel too bad about it.

 

Throughout high school, my life revolved around my next track meet. When will my next conditioning day be? What am I going to eat the night before? How can I schedule my schoolwork around it? Granted, I had an awesome time competing and I wouldn’t change anything about it, but I was also missing out on the little things—lunch with friends, a Friday night movie, and countless weekends. Plus, sometimes I was putting track ahead of schoolwork. Although I never failed any classes, it would’ve become a bad habit if I had let it continue.

 

I guess the point of this spiel is that, over time, my priorities shifted quite a bit. Honestly, I’d much rather be free to do my own thing on occasion than be confined within extra obligations. It’s not exactly the most militaristic mindset, but we’re still in college and it’s important to enjoy these years. Having fun and making the most out of the time we have; that’s what’s important to me.

 

More about Olivia.

 

A Full Fall Semester

(Academics, Athletics, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Haerr Photo Hey, everybody! Long time since I’ve updated you about life at the Academy. This is now the fall of my 2/c year – crazy how fast three years went!

 

This summer was especially rewarding to be able to embark on many adventures and learn so much about my leadership style. I participated in the Coastal Sail Program, navigating my way to Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Block Island, and several other ports with five of my closest shipmates. It was quite the experience to learn how to navigate safely and efficiently, planning every step and calling every move. I also got to lead the Class of 2020 in their journey to become successful cadets here at the Academy. I was Cadre 2 for Swab Summer, which means I worked with my classmates to develop the swabs for the last four weeks of their summer experience. We taught them drill, basic indoctrination of the Coast Guard, and physically conditioned them. It was a difficult yet rewarding challenge to decide how we would train the swabs.

 

This fall I’m busy with Civil Engineering classes, cheerleading, and being a Master at Arms or MAA. Officially taking major-specific classes has been so exciting, especially because we got our very own hard hats! In the labs, we have made our own asphalt concrete, Portland cement concrete, and have conducted many safe drinking water tests. We’ve taken multiple field trips. Our most recent field trip was to the Groton Waste Water Treatment Plant, where we toured their facilities. In cheerleading, we have progressed many of our stunting skills and sharpened our cheers. We’ve done multiple basket tosses, extensions, half-ups, and full downs! As an MAA, I get to work directly with the 1/c and the department, as well as with the 4/c in Alfa company. It’s kind of the best of both worlds because I get to make positive changes within the department, as well as continually help develop the Class of 2020 and maintain that close relationship with them.

 

As the fall semester continues, I’m nervous for the cold approaching. However, it’s predicted that we will have an exciting winter! We already got our first snowfall last week!

 

More about Kathryn.

 

The Great Boat Race

(Academics, Just for Fun, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Eshleman Photo Another October breezes by at the United States Coast Guard Academy. I barely realized the month was over until, well, writing this blog in fact, because this is the first time I’ve taken a breath to reflect on the events of this past month. For this post I’m going to focus a little more on my major – Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. In my graduating class, there are only 23 of us. I really love that it is a small group. For our Principles of Naval Architecture class, our first truly nav arch specific class, we have a three hour lab every week. This week we started a three week long lab where we are going to create our own boat. This lab is called “The Great Boat Race” because for the last session of the semester we will compete against other lab groups to see whose boat has the best overall mission efficiency. The goal is to carry as many sodas (weight) as possible while still moving at a decent speed. We are using programs such as Orca3D to design the hull. At first we started looking at a double catamaran design in order to make our ship light and fast, but unfortunately due to dimension restraints on beam width we could not make two hulls fit with room for soda cans and space in between. So, we decided on a planning hull and we are in the midst of designing it right now. ShopBot is going to cut out our boat using a plastic material and then we will epoxy/paint it to get some aesthetic points. Fingers crossed the race will be a success!

 

More about Hannah.

 

Thanksgiving is for Family and Friends

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Sakowicz Photo The greatest thing about the Coast Guard Academy is not the beautiful river view, or the extremely devoted teachers, it is the family you get when you join. On R-Day you have 30 brothers and sisters in your company and a thousand cadets in the corps that have your back. With each cadet, teacher, officer, and sponsor parent, you gain their entire family as well, and are accepted as one of their own.

 

As a cadet that lives relatively close to the Academy, I have, on many occasions, told my parents that not only was I coming home, but my entire entourage would be joining me as well. No grunts or anger from my mother, just how many blankets and packages of Oreos was she going to need to buy. My home is no longer my home, but a home-away-from-home for all of my friends that live on the West Coast. My two closest friends no longer ask me when I am going home, but call my parents asking if they can crash for the weekend, even if I am not going to be there.

 

Thanksgiving is one of the better examples of cadet adoption. This year my wonderful parents are managing to fit in seven cadets from both the Coast Guard and the Air Force Academy into their home. Thanksgiving is one of the three holidays I get to see my entire extended family, which can be anywhere from 15 to 30 people at a table. Our family tradition starts with a turkey trot, which I am so excited to share with my friends. My cousin is a Division I runner at U- Albany and one of my Coasties is one of the fastest on our cross country team. My family has a small pool on who will take first. My brother and his Air Force friends will blast past the rest of us, saying something about the air being so much easier to breathe. All that matters is when the last of us cross the finish line, there will be a group of my friends and family in matching Flash t-shirts cheering as hard as they can. Dinner will be similar, with every member cooking something different, from the turkey, (and the backup turkey my Dad got before we left), to my aunt’s corn and saltine chowder, the cadets cleaning all the dishes and chasing the smaller kids around the yard. When we all fight over chairs and couches in my aunt’s living room, there is no difference between my friends and my biological family, they are all just my family.

 

More about Emily Rose.

 

Thanksgiving Away From Home

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo The Coast Guard Academy is a wonderfully diverse collection of people. We have cadets studying here who hail not only from all corners of the United States, but from the globe as well! Unfortunately, that geographic dispersion can make one week of leave in particular a challenge for cadets from faraway places: Thanksgiving. In this month of the Military Family, that pain of being separated from your family, especially during a holiday that is traditionally revered as a celebration of such, is heightened a little bit more. The reality is that many cadets don’t get to travel home for Thanksgiving, simply because they live too far away. And speaking from experience, it is tough to imagine your family sharing that time without you there.

 

And yet, if you were to walk through the halls of Chase during the Thanksgiving holiday, you would hear the cacophonies and chaos of… silence. Not a cadet to be seen. If I’ve just been talking about all of these cadets who can’t go home, why isn’t Chase filled with their presence on that fourth Thursday? Simple. It’s because the military family that we are celebrating this month takes a unique form in the lives of cadets. In fact, you could venture to say a cadet has multiple military families: our own families, then those who have adopted us and care for us over the four years we study here.

 

One example of that latter is the Crabtree family. Carl and Christy are the field leaders for the Officer’s Christian Fellowship chapter at the Academy; and during Thanksgiving, they embrace numerous cadets as part of their own family at their home, Shepherd’s Fold. The house is designed to be a retreat center for OCF, and as such can welcome a plethora of cadets at any time of the year; weekends, holidays, summer trainings. Thanksgiving is a particularly lively time for the household. In the past, Carl and Christy have hosted international cadets from such countries as Rwanda and Honduras, and other cadets whose distance from home precludes travelling back to their families. I’m always amazed at the love they show for all of us here. When I asked Carl about opening up his house, he told me, “My wife and I enjoy the privilege of mentoring cadets and giving them a home away from home. Each Thanksgiving we are blessed to have some cadets that do not journey home.” Read that again: blessed. If you want to talk about a loving adoptive military family…there you have it. It’s incredible to see how close these adoptive families grow to us, and how easily they assume a special spot in your own heart. Lives change because of our adoptive families. I am forever grateful for the love and support of my family back home; but in addition, I realize I’m extremely blessed to have met the families who take me and my classmates under their wings when my parents aren’t right there; people who, just by letting me into their house, have become people I trust and care about. I think Carl hits the nail on the head: “We adopt them for the week and some of those relationships last a lifetime.”

 

More about Abby.

 

Life as an Electrical Engineer

(Academics, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Pourmonir Photo I once heard that if you love what you do, then you will never work a day in your life. While this used to sound like one of those sayings that doesn’t make much sense, I have found the truth in this adage since I entered one of the smallest majors at the Academy. While there are not very many of us, we are definitely the closest and proudest major. The Electrical Engineering Department is a family here at the USCGA. In the Class of 2017 alone, we only have 15 cadets who are electrical engineers. While it is challenging and often frustrating, it is also the most rewarding experience academically I have had thus far.

 

As I entered into my final year here at the Academy, I realized that I have yet to regret a single moment since I joined the few who may call themselves electrical engineers. I should point out that a major reason I decided on electrical engineering had to do with its prevalence in today’s world, and its relevance to the future of technology and innovation. With the cyber strategies that we are developing, and the vulnerabilities being exploited faster than they can be detected, the field of electrical engineering will be a prosperous one for years to come. That being said, the people are what convinced me to stick with it when I faced hard times. While some teachers are committed to their students’ growth and understanding, there are also teachers that are not. While this sad fact has proven to be true, it miraculously cannot be said about any of the faculty and staff in the Electrical Engineering Department here at the Academy. When I realized that every teacher was willing to do whatever it took to help me succeed, I knew that this department was meant for me. We work with technology and circuits, and I have learned more than I ever could have imagined. The teachers will work with you one-on-one whenever you need the extra help. The people are what make the environment, and I can honestly say there is not a single place I work harder than in my engineering classes for the amazing faculty in the Electrical Engineering Department. They have inspired me to someday be as knowledgeable and passionate about the field as they all have grown to be. I can honestly say that I love what I do, and I haven’t worked a single day since I made the decision to be an electrical engineer. While I’m sure I have already sold you on switching majors, I must also point out that they always have M&M’s and coffee avialable here in the Electrical Engineering Department.

 

More about Keemiya.

 

Running Down a Dream

(Athletics, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo Actually, not really a dream… I never had grand aspirations of running a full marathon until last May. In fact, if you had told 4/c or 3/c me that I would ever run more than three miles at once, let alone 26.2, I would have run far, far, away from you. (Nah, scratch that. I would have power-walked, because I didn’t do that whole “running” thing.) But some switch flipped in 2/c me. My marathoner friends certainly influenced me, but I think the interest stuck when I realized that running actually doesn’t have to be miserable. I go at my own pace, on my own schedule, with my own goals and, believe it or not, running became one of my favorite hobbies. Maybe it’s because I know I’m taking care of myself; maybe it’s because my workouts are the 1 to 2 hours where I truly do get to be left alone; maybe it’s because I have seen a significant and rewarding increase in my fitness over the last couple of years. Regardless, I have, at this point, completed two half-marathons and a full marathon! 4/c and 3/c Abby are calling 1/c Abby insane right now; but, so far, running those miles is one of the most awesome blessings from God in my life.

 

Physical fitness is a crucial part of cadet education (hence physical fitness exams twice a year), but I’ve learned working doesn’t have to be some brutal task you drag yourself through miserably every day. The Academy allows you to explore many different athletic activities to find just the right fit for your interests and abilities. For some, that takes the form of a varsity team for the sport you always played in high school – baseball, soccer, swimming, basketball, rifle, sailing, and so on. Others jump into new clubs to investigate activities like ballroom dancing, equestrian sports, or fencing. For people like me who aren’t really into the competitive nature of varsity or even club athletics, you can snag your mandatory sports credit doing something low-key like intercompany sports, and focus your efforts on those individual hobbies that make you genuinely happy and remove stress. I’ve found my athletic niche in casual, fun runs around the New England area, despite coming in as an out-of-shape swab who avoided that dreaded activity…but thanks to some awesome runner friends and the Academy’s focus on physical fitness development, that’s all changed. I can’t wait for the next race!

 

More about Abby.

 

With Freedom Comes Responsibility

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Silliman Photo So, at the Academy I see a lot of people struggle with academics. But for me it was different. I really struggled more on the military side of things. I remember entering 4/c year, and completely brain dead from Swab Summer, did not know really what I should do to approach the academic year. This is after being trapped in the unfree environment of Swab Summer for two months, where I was told everything I had to do. I the school year introduced a new set of challenges that I was not use to, and unlike in high school, I struggled to manage my time. I now had to get work done during the day as I did not have as much free time in the evenings. I now had to balance academic work with military responsibilities as well as the basic living responsibilities my parents took care of for me. What helped me get through my first semester as a fourth class was having a good set of leaders who helped me develop into a more effective follower.

 

The second semester was different. I had to find leadership outside of my immediate superiors for guidance. Probably the big thing I learned second semester at the Academy was that here people are surrounded by good leadership, so if someone is not getting the guidance they are looking for from their immediate superiors, there are plenty of other people they can turn to.

 

I also learned a lot about the type of leader I want to be, and I think it is important to understand that while leaders have expectations of their followers, followers also have expectations of their leaders. If people care about their followers, I feel it is important to care about what their followers think of them. Coming out of fourth class year and a great summer at both a cutter and a station, I felt in order for leaders to earn the trust and respect of their followers, they have to be observant of the personal challenges and obstacles their followers face beyond what they immediately see.

 

I have two fourth class of my own now that I am in charge of, and probably the greatest privilege that comes with 3/c year is that now I am in charge of someone else. But this is not just a privilege, it is my greatest responsibility. I think it is very easy, in the chaos of everything, to see how lucky my shipmates and I are to be here, but I feel now that I have made it this far, it is so much easier to remember how fortunate we are.

 

More about Derek.