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cadet blogs

The Skier

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Culp Photo As I shuffled my way back up to the rope tow that would drag me to the top of the hill at the base of the beautiful Alps, two words resounded in my head: this stinks. I had a pair of skis strapped to my feet for the first time during the Glee Club trip to Germany and could not for the life of me figure out why this sport is so popular here at the Academy. I was getting increasingly frustrated as the lesson went on and I was unable to successfully stop or turn on my left leg (yes, only my left). Then, eventually, everything began falling into place, and while I was far from being accomplished, I could at least make it down the hill without plowing over any children or the instructor in the process. That’s when it occurred to me – going through the Academy follows the same pattern as my ski lesson that morning. When you first sign up, it’s such an exciting opportunity! You get your gear and make plans for when you’ll report to the slopes, eagerly awaiting your training. Then, you finally meet up with your instructor and suddenly all that confidence you had goes away. Your skis feel awkward on your feet, you are tired from dragging yourself up that silly hill over and over and you fall. Constantly. And sometimes, you have to rely on someone to help you stand back up. Even after you’ve been taught the basics, you continue to have issues with actually executing the skills and keeping up with the people around you. You feel like you are falling farther and farther behind; then, things start to come together. You start figuring out where you are going wrong, and with patience, you fix those areas. Before you know it, you are zipping down that hill like you’ve been on those skis forever, and by golly, you might even be able to teach someone else the skills you’ve learned.

 

That’s pretty much the journey from Swab Summer to the school year in a nutshell. And frankly, a lot of it is tough. Chances are you’ll fall down MANY times, no matter how confident you are at the beginning, particularly during a grueling Swab Summer. It is then that your shipmates will pull you back up and that you will in turn lend them your hand when they fall. Then together, you will move on to the more advanced slopes, with even more turns and steeper hills, and even more chances to fall. The good thing about that is the increased number of opportunities to recover and learn.

 

As a rising 2/c, I am thrilled to be in the part of the ski story when I get to put those blasted mechanisms of gravity-related mockery on someone else’s feet and guide them down the slope. I only hope they don’t fall quite as often as I did over the summer! To the future cadets of the Academy, and especially to my swabs, the Class of 2019, I wish you the best of luck as you start gathering your gear for a long day in the snow.

 

More about Abby.

 

What’s Coming Up

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Ritchie Photo Second semester is an exciting time for cadets. As the snow melts and days grow longer, things start to come together in Chase Hall. We find out what we will be doing for our summer training programs: 1/c are given their billets, 2/c get their class rings, 3/c prepare to become cadre, and 4/c earn carry-on. On April 6, we will switch to our short-sleeve uniforms. It is a sign that we are close to the end of the school year.

 

This winter has been long and cold, so it is especially exciting to hear about our summer assignments. Each year, cadets have 11 weeks of training and three weeks of leave. Whereas the other summers include only one or two five to seven week training experiences, 2/c summer is composed of several one to three week training experiences.

 

The first week of my summer training, I will be going through 100th week. This marks my class being halfway through our time as cadets. Chiefs come up to the Academy from Cape May to act as our cadre, remind us of Swab Summer and train us to become cadre. After that, I’ll have three weeks of leave to go home and see my family. The next weeks are comprised of T-boat training, Rules of the Road, range week (shooting), and air station training, each for one week; coastal sail on the other hand is two weeks. At the end of the summer, I will serve as cadre for the Class of 2019. I will have one week of prep and then three weeks on Eagle. I requested to be Eagle cadre because I want the swabs to enjoy their first time sailing on America’s tall ship. I loved Eagle over Swab Summer. It gave me an appreciation of all the sailors who have come before me and the history and culture of sailing. I am looking forward to teaching others what I’ve learned.

 

Throughout the summer, I plan to update my blog with stories from each of these training programs. As always, if you have any questions, please email me at Sarah.R.Ritchie@uscga.edu.

 

More about Sarah.

 

Fantastic April

(Just for Fun, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Cantrell Photo Another fantastic month has come and gone. It’s hard to believe with all of the schoolwork and military obligations that graduation is right around the corner. Only two and a half more weeks of school and we are in the final stretch to commencement. The feeling is just beginning to become real and a little scary. I don’t want to leave all of my amazing friends but I am also so excited and ready to head to my first ship. It is such a strange feeling and is very hard to explain.

 

Billet Night was an incredible night full of excitement and memories. I will be headed to CGC Legare, a 270-foot cutter home-ported in Portsmouth, Virginia! I am beyond excited to report aboard and be given the opportunity to carry out the missions of the Coast Guard. It will be a challenging two years full of learning but I am so ready to perform to my highest potential and serve this great organization well.

 

Another awesome event for the Class of 2015 this past month was Castle Dance. This is the 1/c formal held at a castle in Newport, Rhode Island. It was a very classy night with a lot of dancing and fun with my classmates. Additionally, it was nice to wear a dress and be able to have my hair down for this formal event.

 

Last weekend was Easter and a group of us went to my friend Carolyn’s house in upstate New York. Her family was so welcoming and made our Easter weekend so incredibly special. It is so nice to be able to get a home-cooked meal and feel like a part of a family when your own is so far away.

 

One of the things that I cherish most about the Academy is the lifelong friends and family you make in just four short years. I did not ever imagine myself being fortunate enough to be a part of so many families and it is so nice to have constant support from so many wonderful people.

 

I hope spring has sprung for many of you reading this and that warmer weather starts making its way up here soon.

 

More about Sara.

 

Aaand… We’re Back

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Chang Photo Unfortunately, I could not stay in Orlando forever. Universal Studios, the beach and Disney World had become my home away from home from my home away from home. (Try to figure that one out). And while I dearly miss the Florida sun, palm trees and Mickey and Minnie, the time to come back North had come. I guess all good things must come to an end but there are good things to come here, too.

 

We found out our 3/c summer assignments and I was lucky enough to be put on the first phase of Eagle, where we’ll make our way down to the Bahamas and end in Staten Island, New York. And it’ll only get better from there. Along with six other 4/c and two 2/c, I’ll be on the Coast Guard Cutter Mellon, coming from Japan and making its way back to its home port, Seattle, Washington. Out of the nine of us going, four are bilingual. We have two Korean-speakers, a Japanese speaker and myself, speaking Mandarin. Being able to sail on completely different coasts and go overseas is something I never would have thought I’d be able to do so early on in my Coast Guard career. It’s going to be a good summer.

 

More about Olivia.

 

A Better Kind of Busy

(Academics, Athletics, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Quintero Photo I thought that 1/c year would be a breeze in regard to academics but it has been busy! However, this is a different type of busy. It is not the 4/c kind of busy where you have a lot of core classes and 4/c duties. It is a better kind of busy. For example, I have been actively working on my senior project, which allows me to use what I have learned in the Management department for the last three years. Since I am in a leadership role now, it comes with more responsibility and work. Honestly though, it is a good thing that I have been keeping busy because it makes time go faster until graduation. It is not that I want to necessarily leave the Academy because it is a horrible place but, instead, I look forward to being out at sea and working for the Coast Guard. From the three summers that I spent in different units of the Coast Guard, I have learned that it is a great service to be in. That is because the people that make up the service are some of the best men and women in the world and are great to work with. And that is why I cannot wait to get out there and use the skills and training the Academy has given me.

 

Meanwhile, I am enjoying free time with my classmates who, after graduation, I won’t see for a while. One of the ways I spend time with my classmates is through sports. Since it is the spring season for rugby, we have been practicing a lot and going to tournaments.

 

More about Carlos.

 

Service Academies Exchange Program

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Ritchie Photo Each fall semester, the Coast Guard Academy participates in an exchange program with the Air Force Academy, Naval Academy and West Point. (The Merchant Marine Academy is not able to participate due to their trimester (as opposed to semester) program.) Officers at each academy negotiate how many cadets to exchange; it is usually two to five per academy. The opportunity to participate in this semester-long exchange program is provided to cadets going into their 2/c (junior) year. It involves an application process during which you provide your GPA, PFE score, military score, and a paragraph explaining why you’re interested in being on exchange. They look for people who are well-rounded and can represent the Academy well. The connections these students will make with other cadets and midshipmen could become vital in joint service operations in the future.

 

I have been interested in this exchange program since my first semester here. One of my 2/c was an Army cadet on exchange here at the Coast Guard Academy. In spring semester of 4/c year, I started talking to Coast Guard cadets who had gone on exchange in the fall, asking them what they thought of the program and what their experience was like. They all said it was a great opportunity to see something different, make new friends and enjoy a big-school environment for a little bit. They all said, “Apply if you can,” so when the application came out at the beginning of the semester, I did. I should also mention that I was talking to one of my best friends about it and we decided to both put Navy as our top pick. Since her family lives about 20 minutes away from the Naval Academy, I’d have a sponsor family.

 

About a month and a half later, the list was released. Originally, I got West Point but I was also first alternate for the Naval Academy. At the time, the Air Force Academy and West Point were each taking five cadets and the Naval Academy was only taking two. Just last week, I found out that they decided to exchange one more with Navy, and I got it! I am so excited for this opportunity and can’t wait to share more about this experience with you next semester!

 

More about Sarah.

 

Pride and Responsibility

(Academics, Athletics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Daghir Photo Hellooooo! (That’s the way I normally greet my friends from down the hallway.)

 

So, I am writing to you from the confines of a lacrosse bus, the insides of which I have become all too familiar with! We are currently transiting back from one of our rougher games, Springfield College, and I guess spirits are as high as they could be for a team of cadets who are stuck in stop-and-go traffic at 2218 with miles to go and loads of homework waiting, all while bearing a tough loss of 17 to 1.

 

I might try to take this blog to let you know that those players that we face each week on the field see us in a light that does us justice like how the sun gives the moon justice while in its crescent phase. We have to hold our heads high because, at the end of the day, those players from other colleges step off the lax field to do some homework, go to bed, and most likely go to class around 1000 the next day, take three classes and then go to practice again. From this bus, as a team we will trek up to Chase Hall, shine our shoes (the fourth class), work on a paper, study for calculus, prep our uniforms, and set our alarms for 0555 (or 0610 if you are me and prefer to milk every last minute of sleep from the night). We go to trainings after 0620 breakfast and then begin a full day of classes at 0800. For me, as an MES major, I attend four 50-minute classes in the morning and then two in the afternoon, take fifty minutes to get down to the lacrosse field, practice for two hours, audition for the talent show, and then lock myself in the library to write a morals and ethics paper and to work on some biochem homework. I am not writing this to make people feel bad or to complain about my life, I am simply taking a reality check because losing 17-1 kind of hurts.

 

So now for the good stuff: the SUMMERS!!! I have recently found out that I will be reporting to the CGC Morgenthau in Honolulu, Hawaii for all 11 weeks of my summer training. How cool is that?! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I not only saw that I will be going to Hawaii, but that I will be going with my best friend, Hanna Jansson! We are MES majors together and had been praying that wherever we ended up it would be fun as long as we were together. We are ecstatic and have contacted our POC from the cutter and now the time will fly by through tests, projects, papers, labs, and finals. My birthday week is of course finals week and I will be gifted by a morals and ethic final on the 5th of May; I couldn’t be more pleased. I am quite busy with lacrosse, and school, and the talent show, for which I will be performing some songs, accompanied by my friend Holden on the keyboard. I am also the Master at Arms for Delta Company’s regimental review department and, as such, am privileged to inform the corps when drill is cancelled, and cursed to also be the one to ask that they be formed up on the parade field at 0650. Alas, I cannot believe that April has come and that in this month, I will be receiving my class ring as well as preparing to become a first class cadet. These years have flown and I am truly blessed to have experienced them all with my closest friends. So next time we get beat into the ground in a lacrosse game (let’s face it, it’s gonna happen), we need to hold our heads up high because when I hear that National Anthem play, I am filled with pride and responsibility, while other teams giggle, sway and speak, I am standing tall, at attention, ready to serve (and play!).

 

Last Semester Rapidly Finishing…

(Academics, Athletics, Just for Fun, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Driscoll Photo It’s certainly been a while since I wrote a blog post, so I will write quickly before class to update my readers on what’s happening in Chase Hall.

 

1. Billet Night (March 5th): The Class of 2015 recently found out where we are going for our first tour. It was a fun, suspenseful evening: I loved sitting in the auditorium, cheering for my classmates as they were called on stage and opened their orders, but grew more and more anxious as people opened orders to boats on my dream sheet. Finally, two of my friends and I were called on stage. I’m going to USCGC Sequoia, a 225-foot buoy tender in Guam!! I’m so excited to get my top pick and spend two years in paradise.

 

2. Classes: Well, they are going. Of course, now that I know I am moving to Guam, it’s hard to focus… Senioritis really is a thing.

 

3. Easter: I had a great time yesterday at my sponsor mom’s house for Easter. She threw an awesome get-together this year and outdid herself with all the food. After surviving 40 days of Lent without eating meat, it was great to dig into ham, turkey, and a delicious broccoli casserole! I’m going to miss those parties when I’m on the other side of the world next year.

 

4. Crew: It’s hard to believe that our season is almost over. It seems like yesterday that we were stepping into the boat for our first race. I’m going to miss the boyshouse, but at least we still have four or five more races! GO BEARS!

 

So that’s everything I can think of in the ten minutes before class. Enjoy and please take time to read the blogs of others (underclassmen) who write more frequently and have great advice and stories about this place. The firsties are mentally checked-out and eagerly looking forward to our new assignments. As always, though, if you have a question, please feel free to email me at Peter.M.Driscoll@uscga.edu. Have a great day!

 

More about Peter.

 

Spring Break 2015 - Ireland Bound

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Just for Fun, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Martorell Crespo Photo Hey everyone! So for spring break this year, I had the opportunity to go to Ireland with the chaplains from the Academy. We were a group of about 30 people, which consisted of some 1/c, 2/c, 3/c and 4/c cadets. It was a fun and exciting trip. We went to Galway, Donegal, Belfast, Dublin, and many other places.

 

Besides doing a lot of sightseeing, we also visited the Irish Coast Guard. It was an enjoyable and unique experience. We were able to learn how their coast guard is small and that it’s Irelands 4th Blue Light Service. Its objective is search and rescue and it also provides security to all those people who are in danger at sea, on the coast, or in any other place.

 

Overall, we were able to have a fun time but we also were able to learn many things about Ireland and its ancient buildings and castles. This will be an unforgettable trip. We all loved Ireland and we would all love to go again because it was a really nice place but also because of its people. Not only they were helpful but they were nice and friendly.

 

More about Irene.

 

How Far We Have Come

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Coburn Photo Well, we are four days away from April 1 and we only have 23 school days left of our fourth class year. Everyone told me in the beginning of the school year that the two semesters would go by in a flash, but I had no clue how right they were until this moment. Last night, we had our class formal and it was awesome. The theme was Las Vegas and the place looked incredible. I had a great night of dancing and having fun with my friends, but more importantly our class crest was revealed. It is a big milestone for the fourth class and it makes us realize how far we have come since we arrived on R-Day. Looking back and remembering all that we have accomplished individually and as a class is a great feeling. I also realized how close I have become with my friends here and how close our community is. My company has one more person to pass Boards and then we will be allowed to have social media back! The lacrosse season is going pretty well so far and for an inaugural team that’s not bad at all.

 

This week was also a big week because we found out our summer assignments. Right after finals end in May, I will be reporting to the Coast Guard Station in South Padre Island, Texas. I am really excited because not only is it a gorgeous area, it also will be conducting some of the missions that I am very interested in. After I leave the station in June, I will be reporting to the Eagle to spend the next six weeks sailing down to Bermuda and then up the East coast. All of my friends are on this phase as well so it is going to be a great time. Really, all I am waiting for now is for the school year to come to a close and for the Class of 2018 to be granted carry on. Let’s hope it is sooner rather than later!

 

More about Mimi.

 

The Roller Coaster Ride of a Cadet

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Just for Fun, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Corcoran Photo Life is like a roller coaster here at the Coast Guard Academy, filled with many ups, downs, lulls, and just when you think that the ride is about to end, you quickly get twisted into another direction. Lately, I have felt that my workload has taken me into a million different directions, forcing me to try to become more efficient so that I can effectively manage my academics, sports, military life and social life, all while trying to get enough sleep. I can’t lie and say that I haven’t been struggling to find a balance lately, but I think that I’m finally starting to catch up with everything.

 

Spring break was a definite help to everyone’s sanity here. The weeks before spring break are nicknamed “The Dark Ages.” This is because it is dark most of the time we’re awake, people are being overloaded with academic work, and on top of all of that, it’s the heart of winter. Not to mention, we have had an exceptionally long winter this year so I think everyone was ready to head out on spring break and escape into a warm, sun-filled abyss for a week. I was lucky enough to travel to Miami, Florida with two of my friends from school and we even took a little mini-cruise to the island of Bimini, Bahamas for three days. I definitely got a lot tanner during our break and was ready to hit the ground running when we came back to school.

 

Unfortunately for everyone at the Academy, spring break did not start out on the highest note. We were notified that two of our shipmates from the Republic of Georgia were involved in a car accident and taken from us in the beginning of our allotted leave. It was sad for everyone to hear of the passing of two amazing men, but we all knew we had to come together to get through the tragedy. Little by little, cadets started changing their profile pictures to Georgian flags on Facebook and soon enough I would say about half of all of my Facebook friends had Georgian flags as their profile pictures. It was amazing to see how quickly everyone came together for these two gentlemen. We all had the opportunity to participate in a remembrance ceremony for the two fallen cadets on the Wednesday after we came back to school and I must say it was the most beautiful ceremony I have ever been to. After the ceremony, I realized how proud I am to say that I go to the Coast Guard Academy and that I am a member of the long blue line, the United States Coast Guard. It is truly amazing how special our small service is.

 

Not to end on a somber note, but if you end up attending the United States Coast Guard Academy, you will soon realize how close-knit everyone is. It may drive you nuts at times because you live in the same building as 900 other people and the same 900 other people are the people you play sports with, eat with, learn with, grow with, and pretty much do EVERYTHING with. However, these are the people who will have your back through everything and be there for you during both tough and happy times. I will forever cherish everyone I have met at the Coast Guard Academy and in the operational Coast Guard because they are all extremely special to me.

 

More about Samantha.

 

Academics and the Music Program at the Academy

(Academics, Just for Fun, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Daniels Photo Well, spring break is upon us yet again and it seems almost unbelievable that we are almost halfway done with our cadet careers. It feels like we just got done with our first week of classes 4/c year. This semester is the first chance I’ve had to focus almost entirely on engineering courses and it has been the most interesting time of my life. Even though some would dread learning the ins and outs of fracture formation and propagation, I’ve enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

 

On top of the academic load, I’ve been able to get more involved with the music program at the Academy. The Brass Quintet is preparing to play at some of the community dances in Leamy. This opportunity is something that I am very excited about and is going to hopefully get the group out there more. Possibly more exciting is an upcoming gig for the Jazz band. We are playing at a Coast Guard Auxiliary awards ceremony with performer Natalie Toro and it is yet another truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity we’ve been given.

 

One of the proudest moments of my career so far was at the Military School Band Festival. I attended the drum major clinic, while three other cadets attended the band portion of the festival. Each of the other cadets placed highest in their section (Casey Dieter-Leeds on trumpet, Hope McGeady on horn, and Olivia Calabro on oboe). Hope was selected as the most outstanding instrumentalist and the Coast Guard Academy placed as the college with the highest average audition score. I was truly honored and humbled to be with such outstanding musicians.

 

More about Drew.

 

Extracurriculars

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Just for Fun, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Eshleman Photo March has been an incredible month. In the beginning of March, I was extremely focused on passing Boards, which is a verbal indoctrination exam that all of the 4/c (freshman) must pass in order to eventually be granted carry-on, a.k.a. no more squaring, bracing up, etc. I was obviously very nervous but thankfully with a lot of study sessions, mock Boards and advice from upper-class, I was able to pass on the first try.

 

About a week after I passed Boards, I headed to Germany with the USCGA Cadet Chorale for our spring break. We stayed in the town of Garmisch. I had been looking forward to this trip since the beginning of the school year and what a trip it was. We toured multiple castles, including Neuschwanstein, which is what the Disney castle is based on. We also went to Dachau concentration camp, skied in the Bavarian Alps and sang at the Chief Warrant Officers’ Ball at the Edelweiss Resort. Overall, there were many eye-opening experiences on this trip and a lot of awesome Glee Club bonding. It was a trip of a lifetime.

 

Back at the Academy, we have only six weeks left of school before we head out to our summer assignments. I am still waiting to hear where I am going but I cannot wait to see what the operational Coast Guard is like. Fourth class year is flying by and I am excited to see what the next couple of months have in store for me and my classmates.

 

More about Hannah.

 

Flash Back, Flash Forward

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Chang Photo There are screams coming from outside my door… But it’s for a good cause! After all, the academic day is being delayed from all the snow we’re getting. February came and went like the power nap I never have time to take. I guess the top three highlights of this month was 101st night, Presidents’ Day weekend and Boards.

 

101st night is a fun time; it’s a flashback into Swab Summer, complete with an equal amount of sweat, adrenaline and push-ups. As a company, we run around Chase Hall with our 2/c, being tested on Coast Guard knowledge that we’ll need to know for Boards. As some may have mentioned before, Boards is a 10-question indoctrination exam that entails everything we’ve learned since Swab Summer. This includes everything from the Academy mission to military rates and ranks. I spent the entire Saturday before the test with a couple of friends, with the Boards packet in front of our faces and the oncoming end of 4/c year in the backs of our minds.

 

Although we had no snow days this month, Presidents’ Day weekend was a small ray of light in this time they call “the dark ages.” That’s right, during the first two months of the year, New London becomes engulfed in a dark, wintry shadow as Jack Frost cackles maniacally at the cadets marching in below-freezing winds. (Fun Fact: The Academy was supposed to be in Florida).

 

Luckily, I’ll be spending this spring break in Orlando; with two awesome people I’m extremely lucky to call my friends. Not only will it be a chance to get away from the Academy, but a great escape from New England in general. The winter is nice despite the ice, but I’ll take the sun’s rays any day.

 

I’ll be sure to post about it provided that I don’t choose to stay there forever.

 

More about Olivia.

 

Time of Transition

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Auzenbergs Photo Halfway done with the second semester of 4/c year and the next few months are a whirlwind of transition. First off, Billet Night was on March 5th for the 1/c cadets, which is when they each learn where they will be stationed for their first assignment as an ensign. The 2/c are waiting to hear where they will spend their summer out in the fleet, and preparing to take over the position as most senior cadets at the Academy. The 3/c are training to become cadre for this upcoming Swab Summer, and us 4/c are also waiting to hear where we will be assigned this summer, whether it be a station or a cutter, and which phase Eagle we will be on! Personally, getting fitted for our new liberty attire (“Rec Gear” as opposed to the Service Dress Blue uniform that we have to wear now) was one of the more exciting events of the past few weeks; we will soon be able to wear civvies while off-base like the upper-class!

 

Many 4/c are passing Boards, or the 10-question oral exam on all of the Coast Guard indoc that we have been studying since Swab Summer, which means that we are also one step closer to earning carry-on! Once the entire Class of 2018 passes Boards, we will have the opportunity to earn carry-on, which means we won’t have to square our food in the wardroom, we will be able to talk to classmates in the hallways, and can look around while we transit throughout Chase Hall. I am excited for all the upcoming privileges, and of course, spring break! Looking back, it has been a long journey, but with only one quarter left of 4/c year, I cannot believe how quickly time flies.

 

More about Gabrielle.