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CADET BLOGS

cadet blogs

A Leap of Faith

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2019) Permanent link
King Photo 4/c Matt Hwang and I decided to work together on this video project. Matt is a budding filmmaker who has been making short movies around campus. I liked the artistic shots and new perspective that he portrays. Together, we agreed to make a short video about cadet life. We brainstormed the topic, wrote a script, and filmed together. It was then edited and uploaded for your viewing pleasure.

Deb's video blog YouTube Icon

 

More about Deb.

 

Lax But Not Relax

(Athletics, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Eshleman Photo January has come and gone and with the arrival of February came the start of spring sports. The women’s lacrosse team started their second varsity season here at the CGA. The first week of practice we got extremely lucky; there was no snow, and we could sport gym shirts and shorts on the practice field. After this past week, our luck ended and the snow has returned but we are still outside practicing in rain or shine (or snow). The first week was tough. We prepared ourselves over the winter with conditioning workouts with the new strength coach, Coach Shakira, and also with individual workouts. But regardless of the preparation, last week left me sore and tired, but also motivated for what the season will bring.

 

Our first scrimmage is on the 20th of February. We have six practices a week, two hours a day, as do all the other varsity sports at the Academy, and the improvement we see every day on the field and the bonds forming on the team is exciting to be a part of. Once games start after the 20th of February, weekends off will be a thing of the past. We have a game every weekend and on some Wednesdays. What about spring break? We’re off to Colorado to play throughout the week. I am thrilled to head back to Colorado. It will be my first time there since doing a year of civilian college at the University of Colorado in Boulder between 2013 and 2014. I am hoping some old friends may be able to visit and watch me play. While this semester is hectic, being busy helps keep me focused. I find I am more productive in my “free” time when I have a demanding schedule. So far, balancing academics, social life, Glee Club, and lacrosse has been, while frenzied occasionally, a good experience. I am getting the opportunity to do all the activities I love to do, and I feel quite lucky.

 

More about Hannah.

 

Looking Back on It All

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Belanger Photo Wow! It has been a really, really long time since I have written a blog. So, time to play a little catch-up! This summer, I had the opportunity to sail aboard the mighty Eagle. The experience was quite different being on board as a 1/c versus a 3/c. As a 1/c, you have much more responsibility and have more difficult watches to stand. I have to say that I had an experience that I will never forget. My summer took me to amazing places including the Bahamas, Bermuda, and Key West. By far, my favorite stop on the trip was the Bahamas. My classmates and I had the opportunity to rent out a house for the night and were able to have a cookout, walk pretty much across the street to the beach, and overall get to bond and become closer friends. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything else this summer. The second phase of Eagle (the Eagle summer training cycle is divided into two sections to incorporate the entire sophomore class), I had the opportunity to be the Cadet in Charge of the phase. This meant that besides working on my own qualifications, I was responsible for the overall success of the phase. It was a rewarding, yet extremely difficult phase. I not only got to practice my leadership skills with the 3/c but I got to work on my peer-to-peer leadership skills as well. I cannot move on from this topic before thanking the crew, Chiefs Mess, and the Wardroom for all of the valuable lessons I learned while on board. Under the leadership of CAPT Pulver and CAPT Meilstrup, and with multiple course corrections with the help of LCDR Rozzi-Ochs, LT Crowley, BOSN3 Greenlee, ENG3 Clark, LTJG Bruce and BMCS Rosati, I believe that I became a better leader overall.

 

After a brief time at home for leave, I got to drive all 900 miles up I-95 to arrive at the Academy for my 1/c year! I still cannot believe that it is finally here. It seems like only yesterday that I was being “greeted” by, at the time 2/c, now LTJG Zaccano for the beginning of the Coast Guard Scholars Program. I still have many “fond” memories of the three weeks being indoctrinated into the Coast Guard. Now, I have finally made it to the top of the cadet totem pole! I can wear my civilian clothes out on liberty while I drive my own car around town. No more pestering upper-class to bring me to Walmart or the mall! (At least until we have a decent amount of snow. Trust me, no one wants to see a Florida boy drive in the snow…) The school year seems to almost be over, but there is still so much to look forward too! We have Castle Dance, Billet Night, Dining In, spring break (which means Hawaii for me this year), and of course graduation! I cannot wait! But at the same time, it has me feeling a little down as well.

 

Yes, of course I want to graduate and finally start my Coast Guard career, but the friends you make while at the Academy are lifelong friendships. Just think of every group of friends at the Academy and now compare it to the show Friends. Every group has their Ross, Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Chandler, and Joey…and we do everything together. We do homework together, eat meals together, play sports together, sit through trainings and corps-wides together, go on liberty together….we literally do everything together. My closest friends live about four doors down the hall, and another one is slightly farther. I am going to miss being able to walk down the hall and just sit around with those friends that I have bonded with so closely. When I found out I got into the Academy, one of my mentors told me that I would lose touch with people at home. He went on to say that those friendships I would form at the Academy wouldn’t compare to anything else. At the time, I thought he was crazy. But after four years now, I can’t believe how true that statement is. It isn’t sad just separating from my friends but separating from my mentors as well. Sure they are an email away, but how often can I go and knock on a CAPT’s door and just sit and talk about how things are going, or get into “creative” arguments with CDRs and LCDRs, ultimately losing but still being able to have a great time. I am even going to miss running into my past Spanish teachers and having to struggle through a brief conversation with them. (Dr. Waid y Dr. Rivera, lo siento. Me espanol es no bueno.) This has been the roughest, most stressful, and challenging time in my life so far but I think one of the most memorable experiences I will ever have. I have made great friends; I have found great mentors ranging from LTJGs to CAPTs. I have definitely had my ups and downs. No matter how much I complain about being here, whenever I am home for too long, I always want to come back. I miss my friends, mainly because they have become part of my family.

 

The next time you will hear from me, we might already have our billets, depends if I sit down again and have an inspiring thought. Just one thing I ask from everyone that reads this, keep a lookout for a four leaf clover, or maybe a lucky horseshoe, I could use the extra help on Billet Night!

 

Got a question? Email me Nathan.D.Belanger@uscga.edu!

 

More about Nathan.

 

Lax, Lax, Re-Lax

(Academics, Athletics, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Hosley Photo Hello everyone and happy snow day! That’s right today is February 8th and here at CGA we had our very first snow day of the 2016 winter season! All excitement aside, it provided for a great extra day to get some homework done and just relax a little bit. Speaking of “lax,” last week marked the beginning of spring sports season for the greatest sport on earth, lacrosse! I am thrilled to be in season again, although conditioning is pretty tough and these days we tend to have to shovel the field before practice... We practice six days a week and have been working on fitness like crazy to prepare for our upcoming games. Although playing a sport is a pretty big time commitment, I love the girls on the team and there’s no other way I would rather spend my afternoons here at the Academy. Playing a sport also gives us a much needed break after the academic day and before starting on homework. Lacrosse also provides some incredible opportunities in terms of team development, leadership lessons, and travel. This spring break we will be going to Colorado to visit the Air Force Academy and play a few games against teams in the area. I am super excited and hope we will have a little bit of time to hike and explore. During one of our recent practices, we had to stop playing so that the President of the country of Georgia could cross our field, along with his escorts and secret service. Believe it or not, the team actually got to take a picture with him! He was such a nice man and even mentioned how he had heard of us and our world famous lacrosse skills. (I am immediately to the right, next to the President in the team picture with him!)

 

Also, as promised, here is an update on my whale project: so I was very nervous to present to the Mystic Aquarium staff, but I did and they loved it! I explained all of the research that I had done and even provided everyone with an annotated bibliography of the papers I’d read (there were about 10 people in attendance!). The research and development team then asked me if I could come up with some research proposals on my own for ideas I had or the type of work I want to pursue with the whales. So far I am thinking serum cortisol levels in saliva (sounds fun right?). I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the aquarium and I look forward to learning and working more with them in the future, especially the whales! Go books, go bears, go lax! And again please feel free to email me with any questions you may have. Happy snow day!

 

More about Cece.

 

An Early Spring?

(Athletics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Cannon Photo Well, it's the first week in February and it is supposedly going to be a high of 61 degrees on Wednesday. I never thought this day would come. As a baseball player, I have struggled with playing in New England weather with the bitter cold and harsh winds (from the Thames River). Nevertheless, I am so excited about this season! We have 14 pitchers, so the arms are plentiful this year. We had a decent season last year with about half that number, so I feel like the possibilities are endless. In addition, we are all waiting in eager anticipation for this summer. The only thing that I am sure of this summer is that I will get to be involved in Swab Summer one more time. This time, however, at the very top of the food chain. It will be me and my classmate, 2/c Derek Victory, running one of the companies this summer so it should be an awesome time! My fingers are crossed that I will get over to the West Coast for the first half of my summer, or being out in the Pacific would be even better. But for now, I am just looking forward to getting down to Fort Myers, Florida for spring break with the baseball team. Warm weather and baseball is like peanut butter and jelly! Here's to another great start!

 

More about Colton.

 

Our Finest Hours

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Stowes Photo Last night was a uniquely special moment in Coast Guard history; the renowned Coast Guard movie The Guardian is no longer the only Coast Guard movie out there. Right here in New London, the entire Academy community, officer candidates, and many guests from the reserves and operational Coast Guard joined as one for a prescreening of The Finest Hours. The Finest Hours depicts the story of Bernie Webber’s daring rescue of 33 survivors aboard the tanker vessel SS Pendleton, which had split in two during a winter nor’easter.

 

After a family-style dinner and the logistical miracle busing all cadets and officer candidates to downtown New London, we sat as one Coast Guard packed into the Garde Arts Center. Before the film started, we had the pleasure of hearing our senators from Connecticut speak, and they made it clear that New London is a Coast Guard city. The Coast Guard and New London are linked by the many years that the Academy has overlooked the Thames River, and cadets have been making visits to New London on an every-weekend basis since the Academy was established here. The other point the senators stressed is that the Coast Guard museum will be built right here in the city. We are the only service without a museum, and it’s long overdue for us to have a place to display artifacts from our long and celebrated history as well as hail the heroic acts of our famed Coast Guardsmen and women. Bernie Webber’s story will be among those told in that museum.

 

Before the movie began, our famed 23rd Commandant Admiral Thad Allen took the stage. Admiral Allen reminded us that this movie is what our careers are all about – what are our finest hours going to be? We are going to be out on the water, flying, or coordinating response during the most severe weather and most difficult cases, and we must be prepared to respond under stress. Admiral Allen believes we are ready. He trusts us to be ready to weigh risk and reward, be leaders of character, and to do our duty to make sure that everyone makes it back while accomplishing the mission. This is a man that served during the response to Deep Water Horizon, Hurricane Katrina, and the attacks on 9/11. Admiral Allen understands the courage and dedication it takes to get the mission done, so I will be sure to keep his words close to my heart.

 

Bernie Webber’s finest hours were spent in the cold, dark waters off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts rescuing those men. Coincidentally, I did a presentation about Mr. Webber’s heroic rescue during my Swab Summer almost four years ago. I remember being moved by his courage to risk his life to save others out of a sense of duty. In particular, I could not believe he was able to say goodbye to his girlfriend before he went out. Now that I am a senior and on the cusp of gradation, the challenge to fulfill my duties under any circumstances carries very real weight. In a few short months, I will be the one answering the call. I have a family and a girlfriend who I would like to reassure that I will make it back when I go out. Thinking about their reactions if I said I might not make it back, I get a sense of what Bernie Webber must have felt when he set out. The Coast Guard is an all volunteer service, like our fellow armed services. That means no matter what our feelings or fears are before our missions, we go out, execute, and we bring our people home. Our challenge is executing the mission so that we, too, can go home at night. At the same time, I have the utmost respect for the families and spouses at home who wait for us to return. Their greatest challenge is often not knowing and fearing the worst. The stress on their emotions is hard to imagine, so after seeing The Finest Hours, I had a renewed appreciation for spouses and families of service members.

 

If I have kept your attention this long, then you should definitely go see The Finest Hours, and tell your friends about it, too! This movie captures the essence of not only the Coast Guard but also the armed services in general; we have volunteered to serve this country. I hope you enjoy the story of our service’s most daring rescue. Sit back and enjoy the show!

 

More about Hunter.

 

4/c Daily Duties

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Friedman Photo One thing I always remembered when I was applying to the Academy and browsing through the blogs was reading about how the 3/c were so happy they didn’t have to do all of the 4/c duties anymore. But no one really explained what the 4/c duties were. There is a good amount but I thought I’d give the top duties.

 

Clocks – At the Academy we have formation twice a day, before breakfast and before lunch. Starting 10 minutes before every formation there has to be a 4/c at every clock in the company’s wing area sounding off the time to go to formation and daily indoc (meals, days to go, movies, CGA sports games).

 

Bracing Up/Bussing – Whenever 4/c are in Chase Hall we are braced up, greeting the upper class, squaring corners, squaring our meals, and not talking to each other. Outside of Chase Hall, we have to bus everywhere, which means we march from class to class as a group. The most annoying part of this is that people have different length legs so depending on who’s in the front of your formation you’re either crawling or sprinting to class.

 

Indoc Tests – The Running Light doesn’t go away after Swab Summer. Every week 4/c are assigned three to four pages of indoc to memorize, then Sunday night there is an indoc test which 4/c must get an 80% or above on to pass. If you fail there are consequences such as extra indoc tests, note cards, or demerits. Toward the end of 4/c year, you take a cumulative exam, called boards. Everyone in your class must pass in order to earn carry-on and not have to brace-up anymore.

 

Note Cards – As a 4/c note cards are transformed from a helpful way to keep track of notes to a torturous punishment. If you’ve ever been in detention before and had to write something 100 times you know the premise of note cards. The difference is each note card has to be properly formatted, which means they take about two minutes each; when you get a lot it takes a long time and hurts your hand.

 

Formal Room and Wing – This is a big inspection the corps has once a month, as a 4/c we have the duty of cleaning the wing area and any other assigned spaces around Chase Hall. This usually results in a late night. It isn’t the best way to spend a Friday night but as a 4/c you’re not allowed to leave the Academy on Fridays anyway and in my company the upper class will usually get pizza or ice cream for us when we’re up late cleaning.

 

This makes 4/c year sound awful; I’ll admit it’s not great all the time but I’ve definitely had more good days than bad. These duties quickly become just a part of your daily routine and don’t seem as inconvenient. Plus, you have your entire class with you dealing with the same thing. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at Jill.M.Friedman@uscga.edu.

 

More about Jill.

 

Things to Know Before Saying “Yes”

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Twarog Photo It was right around this time last year that I officially committed to the Coast Guard Academy, and I’ll be entirely honest, this last year has been both the longest and the shortest of my life. My time in high school feels like a lifetime ago and yet it’s hard to believe that I took the oath on R-Day only seven months ago. As the Class of 2020 prepares to accept or decline their appointments in the coming months, I’d figure I’d share some insight into this place that I wish I’d known before coming in.

 


  • Have a good reason to want to come here. I’ll tell you right now, this place is very hard at times. Simply coming here because you won’t be shelling out any money for an education isn’t enough. You don’t necessarily have to want to be a career military officer (I honestly don’t foresee myself making a career with the Coast Guard), but you need a good reason to come here.
  • If you accept, you are going to question your decision. Even if you’ve wanted to come here since you were 10 years old, there are going to be days when you want to quit. For me, this hit me hard coming back from winter break. Even though I’ve wanted to come here since sophomore year in high school, for a couple of weeks, I was in a funk where I was very seriously considering transferring to another school. The reasons for this were complicated, but my point is that it’s normal to question your decision.
  • The Academy is a cycle of highs and lows. The lows are tough like I’ve already described, but the highs are indescribable… Since getting in, I’ve raced my first Olympic-distance triathlon, sailed on Eagle, become a volunteer firefighter, joined the U.S. Military Cycling Team, ate lunch with the Commandant of the Coast Guard and marched in NYC on Veterans Day. You will have opportunities here that you wouldn’t ever have other places.
  • The bond you share with your shipmates here can’t be simply summed up with the word “friendship”. You’ll form bonds that can’t be described. Even though you might be moving away from home, you’ll have a family at the Academy you can rely on.
  • Home won’t feel quite the same when you finally go back. This isn’t a bad thing by any stretch, it’s just…different. You’ll discover who you really consider to be your friends from back home. Part of this is because you don’t have social media your fourth class year, so you have to make an effort to stay in touch with your friends. Not only this, but people tend to drift in different directions once they head off to college. Your core values might not necessarily align with theirs as time progresses. Even beyond this, you might not necessarily be able to relate to a lot of what your friends are going through, and the opposite is certainly the case. That being said, the friendships that remain are going to last a lifetime.
  • My final insight/unsolicited piece of advice is HAVE FUN. Not only is this true at the Academy, but as you go into your final months of high school, enjoy them (responsibly) as much as you can. Go hiking, seek out random adventures, eat good food, travel whenever possible, laugh a lot, start a bucket list and cross off as many bullets as possible. Live life to its fullest.

Congrats to everyone who gets accepted into the Class of 2020, and if you have any questions feel more than free to reach out to me at my email (Evan.J.Twarog@uscga.edu).

 

More about Evan.

 

Excited for a Busy Spring Semester

(Academics, Athletics, Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Eshleman Photo Coming back from winter break this year was nowhere near as difficult as freshman year. I was excited to see my friends again after three weeks apart, and ready for the spring semester to begin.

 

This semester I am taking 19 credit hours. Two of these are attributed to my professional rescuer class where we get our lifeguard certification. So far this class has been a lot of fun. While I have never been a certified lifeguard, I have had many summer jobs working at pools/lakes being a pool “attendant” or working with rental boats, so it is a unique opportunity for me to actually get the certification. We currently are learning different rescue techniques for drowning victims, and while the class may seem silly at times since no one is actually drowning, I know the skills we are learning are useful for our future careers in the Coast Guard. My most difficult class so far is Dynamics. Luckily, many of my Mechanical Engineering major friends are in the class/my company in Chase Hall, so, when collaboration is allowed, we can help to answer each other’s questions and mutually benefit from the process. While academics is keeping me busy between Dynamics, Advanced Engineering Math, Material Science, Professional Rescuer, American Government, and Morals and Ethics, lots of extracurricular activities are starting up as well. Glee Club just returned from a trip to Massachusetts where we sang over MLK Weekend at a high school, retirement community, and local church. Lacrosse season starts in the beginning of February, and I am hoping for little to no snow/cold so we can practice outside without freezing too much, even though I know this is unlikely. Spring semester is bound to be a busy, exciting semester.

 

More about Hannah.

 

The Actor

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Just for Fun, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo Not much going on around here… it’s been a pretty typical start to the semester with new classes, new divisions, etc.! Since there’s not a lot of news, I thought I’d rock the blogging boat a little bit and share some of the writing that I’ve talked about before. So, here is “The Actor” (an appropriate one as I start rehearsals for the fall musical!). Enjoy!

 

Eyes of glass illuminate a face locked in a dream.
A world, only a feet few beyond,
Seizes his soul and holds him.

 

A barrier stands, a wall unbroken.
Lights shine through the impenetrable invisibility,
Catch the glass,
Ignite the spirit that crosses the ground,
Explores,
Discovers,
Slips back into him
Bringing new life to share.

 

Who is this man
Who wears a suit of personality
Sewn by hand in recitation,
Pinned into shape with actions and motion?

 

Colors bleed from the wall
And soak the stage,
Darkness recedes,
Flaming words and sparks leap from his eyes -
They melt the barrier.

 

He rises.
Stares.
Speaks.

 

Fixed upon him, shapeless faces outside of his world
Grope for a flicker of the man hidden
Beneath the actor.

 

More about Abby.