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For What it’s Worth: Advice to the Class of 2020

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Fenster Photo So in about a month, you’ll be reporting in for the beginning of your 200-week Academy experience. I’ll be the first to tell you that I wasn’t the best swab to come through this place—in fact, far from it. However, I can tell you now (from the other side) that it will definitely be worth it. However, those weeks will be some of the most difficult you have ever endured. So I’ve got some advice for you:

 

1. Remember that it’s all temporary. There will be pain, and you’ll be stressed, and you’ll be uncomfortable. And when it’s happening, you’ll doubt yourself, and you’ll doubt your shipmates, and you’ll doubt your cadre. But when that happens, it’s important to keep in mind that you are here for a reason, your shipmates are too and will always have your back, and that your cadre have been trained and are training you to become members of the Corps of Cadets. Besides, they’re secretly rooting for you to succeed, and everyone else is as well.

 

2. Remember that this is only a small, small part of your Academy experience. For a part of my Swab Summer, I really wanted to quit. I’m not ashamed by the fact because I know I wasn’t the only one who felt that way—I’m pretty sure that nearly everyone will feel that way at some point or another. But the sagest piece of advice that I ever got came from an old friend, who told me that the only time you’ll ever regret something is when you don’t see something to completion. And I can assure you that with Swab Summer that is absolutely applicable. It is seven short weeks, and it will be over before you know it.

 

3. Stay true to yourself. Swab Summer is designed to transition you from a civilian to a cadet in the United States Coast Guard, and your cadre will make sure that happens. But you will not be successful if you don’t maintain your individuality. While you will become part of a team with your shipmates who going through the summer with you, remember that it’s ok to be yourself every once in a while. When you can, laugh a little bit. Recognize the positive things that happen every once in a while. And above all, remember that you’re still you.

 

Enjoy the last month you have before your report in. It’s going to be a difficult summer, but a rewarding one. As always, if you have any questions about how you can prepare for the summer or how you can approach the summer, feel free to contact me at Colin.D.Fenster@uscga.edu.

 

Semper P and Go Bears,
Colin

 

More about Colin.

 

The Approaching Curve

(Academics, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Chang Photo I’m driving a car and flooring it as the little red ticker twitches on the far right of the speedometer. I see empty highway in front of me until the road takes a sharp twist to the left and the silver railings on the side glare their warning. My manic grin is reflected in the side mirror and…

 

No, I didn’t really do that. In fact, being from New York City, I don’t even have a driver’s license. But that’s what the last few days of this semester feels like. There is one day of class left and a week of finals until 100th week, where Cape May Company Commanders will unleash their wrath upon us. Soon after, as cadre, we’ll unveil our own leadership techniques upon the incoming swabs. Everything in between that, however, is a summer packed with everything from sailing to shooting ranges. And, while there is always something to look forward to at the Academy, it’s just as important to have a plan leading up to those upcoming events. Study plans are especially important. For example, here’s my finals week study plan:

  • Silently stare out the window for a few minutes until mustering up the energy to open textbooks
  • Consider checking Facebook and shake off the thought, knowing that it’s way more important to focus on studying
  • 10-minute full-body stretch to prepare for hours at desk
  • Actually read a few paragraphs and chuckle ominously, knowing that it’s going to be a long night
  • Repeat cycle until you’ve compressed your textbook into a ten-page outline
  • Look over it a few times
  • Feel proud and have a snack, you’ve earned it
  • Go to bed
  • Wake up the next morning (or in the next few hours) for reveille and repeat the process

        *Note: This study plan does not reflect the CGA academic standards. I am just procrastinating.

 

Feel free to use it if you wish. No guarantees that you’ll have a 4.0 GPA, but you’ll be fine for finals! Good luck to all taking finals, SATs, and those preparing for the upcoming summer!

 

More about Olivia.

 

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Schroeder Photo I cannot believe it; the last week of my undergraduate studies is finally here. It is the last Monday, and on Wednesday we wrap up classes. Next week is finals and after that I have pre-graduation things to take care of, and in less than a month I will be packing out of Chase Hall and putting the Academy in my rear view mirror.

 

A lot has changed over the past four years; I have grown immensely as a person, a leader, a daughter, a sister and a friend and I have started to become someone I am proud of. On May 18th, I will graduate with a Bachelors of Science in Marine and Environmental Sciences, and receive a commission as an ensign in the world’s best Coast Guard.

 

With all of the stress that goes along with being a cadet at a service academy, dealing with all the academic and military and athletic obligations, I sometimes forget just how fortunate I am to be here and how excited I am to be a Coast Guard officer. My time here at the Academy has been memorable; I’ve made a ton of lifelong friends and have learned a lot. I didn’t believe everyone when they told me it would go by fast but it has. All my hard work has paid off and I must say it was worth it. On June 22nd, I report in to my first unit, the USCGC Mohawk in Key West, Florida. Not only do I get to live in Key West for the next two years, I also get the chance to travel the Caribbean, Central America and South America with my 270 foot cutter. I will be serving as Weapons Officer onboard and I can’t wait to meet the crew and get started on all the learning and responsibilities I will be undertaking.

 

As I am getting ready to leave the Academy I’ve done a lot of self reflection. Although the Academy can be very trying at times, it is important to remember that if you are given the opportunity to come to a military academy you are one of the few lucky American citizens. Over the past four years, I have had so many experiences my high school classmates could only dream of. I’ve sailed the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Alaska. I’ve spent my summers in South Florida, North Carolina, Bermuda, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Alaska and Cape Cod. I’ve been a part of a nationally ranked college rugby team. I’ve made lifelong friends and received a top notch education. Throughout all this, I’ve kept in mind that the “light at the end of the tunnel” is graduation and becoming a Coast Guard officer. Now that the light is finally in sight, I can’t believe it. I’m nervous and excited, but I’m also extremely fortunate in that I’m graduating college debt free with a job lined up for at least the next five years. If you are thinking about coming to the Academy, just keep in mind that all the hard work and sacrifices you will put in over four years all pay off in the end.

 

More about Jade.

 

It Was All Worth It!

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Roesch Photo I can’t believe, as I’m sitting here in Chase Hall, that these next few nights will be the last I spend here as a cadet. Time seemed to fly by so incredibly fast as a 1/c. I got back from my summer assignment (Eagle and Air Station New Orleans) and rolled right into a whirlwind of a semester. As one of the primary planners of our annual Parents’ Weekend, managing schoolwork, and completing the many steps of my flight school application, fall semester went by so fast with all of the tasks on my to-do list. Spring semester was no different and started off equally fast-paced; however, most of those items were glaring reminders that “real life” was right around the corner and ENS Roesch was quickly becoming a soon-to-be reality. From submitting my dream sheet of billet requests, completing my flight school interview, and getting settled into my last semester of undergraduate courses, I played the waiting game until Billet Night to figure out where I would be going for my first tour.

 

Billet Night was, by far, the best night of my four years at the Academy. Beforehand, everyone had the same amount of nervousness jumping around inside of them, anxiously waiting to hear where they would be assigned next. The excitement inside Leamy Hall that night was tangible and all of 2016 was ready to hear our futures. Recalling the moment I was called to the stage to receive my billet, all I can remember is the feeling of my heart pounding inside my chest. Standing on the stage waiting to open my folder was undoubtedly the longest seconds I’ve ever experienced! When I opened my folder, I couldn’t breathe and the tears began to roll down my face: I was going to flight school! That night is something I will never forget – five years of intense, hard work all became extremely worth it within a matter of seconds! What’s even better is that all of my close friends received billets that they were extremely excited about. Being able to share those same emotions with my best friends made the night even sweeter.

 

Following Billet Night, everything seemed to just start happening at an unusually fast pace. Emails with paperwork, forms, trainings, and more to be completed began making their way into my in box, but it was all thrilling because it all meant one thing: I was graduating and making my way down to Pensacola, Florida to become a Coast Guard aviator! I can definitely fill out a bunch of paperwork for that! I began looking for an apartment and things to fill it with (my OWN place!!), swim teams in the area that I can join, parks I can run in with my dog…basically beginning my new life. It’s all so crazy, but so exciting.

 

Now, as I wait for my family to make their way to New London for Commencement Week, all I can do is just sit back and smile. Though this place had its countless unique challenges, I’m walking away with so many experiences that have taught me about life, the world, our society, and myself. Most importantly, I’m walking away with some of the best friends I will ever have. I am so glad, and somewhat surprised, that I made it through and that all those dreams I had in high school are becoming a reality! My advice to anyone starting their journey: never give up, stay focused on your goals, be resilient, and ignore the naysayers – it will all be very worth it one day!

 

More about Allie.

 

One Busy Month

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Just for Fun, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Eshleman Photo The end of April is approaching and what a month it has been. April began with my 21st birthday. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity on my 21st to sing the national anthem at the U.S. women’s soccer game against Colombia in Hartford, Connecticut. It was an amazing experience. Being right there on the field next to these women and all of their fans that look up to them so much was inspiring. Glee Club has provided me with a lot of great opportunities, but this was definitely one of my favorites. We also got to sing at a dinner at the New York City Athletic Club last week. Every weekend thus far in April has been jam-packed with activities. Between lacrosse, glee, and two formals, it has been quite an eventful month.

 

Third class formal was the second weekend in April. Our Link in the Chain class, the Class of 1968, donated their rings to be melted and put into our rings for next year. We had a wonderful ceremony and got to see a video that was composed of pictures of both their class and ours during our times at the Academy. It was really neat to see how times had changed, but yet how there are many similarities due to the decades of tradition here at the CGA. Ring Dance was just as fantastic of a night. The ballroom as decorated with beautiful veils across the ceiling and the 2/c cadets had the chance to dip their rings in water from all over the world. Getting to see the 2/c get their rings as a mark of their progress through the Academy made me extremely excited for next year and finally becoming an upper-class. Overall, April has been busy and exciting, and with transition into the warm weather, I cannot wait to see what summer training brings!

 

More about Hannah.

 

Swab Hosley’s Swab Summer Survival Guide

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Hosley Photo *Let me just preface this by saying that I was by no means a perfect swab; however, I did sail through the summer with no major problems or punishments, earned the respect of my toughest cadre and mentor, and reached my ultimate goal (so in my mind, that’s a win).

 

Step 1: Physical Preparation

Honestly, there is no way to truly prepare for Swab Summer. Yes, being hydrated and physically fit coming in may help you out a little bit in the long run, but not too much. The best way to prepare is to relax and spend time with friends and family because your life is about to change drastically (for the better of course), and why stress out doing push-ups the week before R-Day? You’ve got all summer to do those silly, and don’t worry you will!

 

Step 2: Mental Preparation

The most important way to prepare for Swab Summer is mentally. Get tough and get psyched. So what if it’s going to be rough, they will be some of the worst times and some of the best. Tell yourself it’s going to be hard because it is, but also you’ll get through it; if I can, you can! Lastly, mentally prepare yourself for the yelling, there is going to be a lot of yelling, so expect that. It’s okay to be scared, fear is excellent motivation but always remember, never let the fear of striking out prevent you from playing the game.

 

Step 3: Let the Games Begin 

  • Always remember, Swab Summer is a game and all you have to do is play by the rules.
  • Listen to everything your cadre tell you and be a sponge, absorb all the customs and rules and core values because one day you’ll live by them.
  • Read your Running Light and don’t just pretend to study, but do. The more indoctrination information you know the better!
  • Always try your best, and never, never, never give up (you’ll be amazed by what you can accomplish).
  • Set goals for yourself. I told myself that one day I would be able to climb up the rope on the obstacle course all the way to the top and you know what? On the very last day of Swab Summer I did, and I have never been more proud of myself.
  • Fly under the radar. Whatever you do, keep a low profile; that is single handedly the best way to survive the summer. If you do what you’re told and always try your hardest, you will be successful.
  • Take care of your shipmates because you won’t succeed without them and I promise you they’ll become your best friends.
  • Never take shortcuts; always remember that the truth rises above all else. It is better to be slow and to do something the right way then to take a shortcut, because your cadre will know.
  • Have fun and be creative with it. Don’t get bogged down by the small stuff and remember that at the end of the day, you’re one step closer to reaching your end goal.

 

Step 4…

Okay so maybe there is no step 4, but I can’t give you guys all my secrets; that would take the fun out of it. Don’t be nervous, it flies by faster than you’d think. Deep breaths, it’s not that bad – you will survive I promise, and you’ll be stronger for it. Just remember it’s all a game, you just have to play by the rules. Good luck! Go Swabs, Go 2020, Go 2018, and Go Bears!!!

 

More about Cece.

Class of 2020: Focus on the Future

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo I changed my phone background recently. It’s now some lovely tropical flowers gracing my screen. Really, the last one I had was fine… but with finals coming up and a heavy influx of division work within Chase Hall, I needed a consistent reminder that in about one week, I am heading to Florida for my first assignment at a Coast Guard air station! Trust me, I’m ready for it. Five weeks of immersion in Coast Guard aviation, hanging out at the beach, great food, and running past palm trees will be rough, but I think the challenges of this school have prepared me well.

 

I truly was pretty overwhelmed this last week, what with giving two presentations for the Science Department and lots of last-minute work for my division, but it truly did help to have something to look forward to. The annoyance and frustration is temporary; the experience is forever! I hope the incoming swabs will remember that as they go through the summer. The initial shock is pretty rough, and the days are very long…but believe it or not, the weeks are short. You just have to remember that there are better days ahead and a million adventures awaiting you. Before I reported in, I did some math. Did you ever realize that seven weeks, out of 200 for our training program, is only about 3.5% of your Academy career? That means 95.5% is made up of meeting new people, travelling, getting into a great major, assuming some leadership positions, flying, sailing, going on internships, joining clubs, attending religious activities… not the rigorous, loud days of the summer. Focus on the future, on the great things in store for you if you endure Swab Summer, and you’ll be fine. Even if you have some doubts at the beginning, 2020… I think you’ll grow to like those odds.

 

More about Abby.

 

Top Five Experiences

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Engelhardt Photo Hello again.

 

As is often a common phrase now when I write my blogs, I had no intention for such a long delay between posts. If fall flew by, then winter was here and gone in a blink of the eye. As spring approaches the Academy, I wanted to take a moment and be reflective on the top five coolest things that the Coast Guard Academy has enabled me to do while I was a cadet. This place has given me so many once-in-a-lifetime experiences and that I wanted to take a quick moment to jot down just some of them.

 

5. Participate in an Inaugural Parade
The Coast Guard Academy sends a contingent every four years to march before the President in the Inaugural Parade. In 2013, I was fortunate enough to be selected for this honor, and got to drill with my piece, in downtown Washington, D.C. in front of the Commander-in-Chief. How cool is that?

 

4. Drive a Mercedes in the Military Bowl Parade
Noticing a theme here? The Military Bowl, held in Annapolis, Maryland, solicited for representatives from West Point, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard living in the capitol area to participate in the Military Bowl festivities. This event, which took place on my 22nd birthday, allowed me the privilege to drive the Mayor of Annapolis in the parade, meet Miss. America, escort Medal of Honor winners on the football field during the coin toss, and watch the game from the stadium’s luxury box. Talk about a day to remember!

 

3. Attend the U.S. Naval Academy
This is not a typo – through the Service Academy Exchange Program, which allows members of the service academies to exchange for a semester during their junior year, I was able to attend USNA in the fall of 2014. Although I am proud to say I will graduate from the Coast Guard Academy and serve in the U.S. Coast Guard, my experience at Navy allowed me to interact with peers who are going on to serve in the Marine Corps and Navy. This exposure was invaluable to me, and gave me an overall greater appreciation of not only the other naval services, but also the Coast Guard, as I learned more of the positive impacts my service has had on others.

 

2. Visit Exotic Locations on Eagle
Through my cumulative nine weeks aboard the Coast Guard Academy’s training cutter, I had the opportunity to visit three foreign nations, and five ports-of-call in the United States that I had previously never been to. Although it is hard to pick a favorite, I must say that visiting Bermuda in 2013 has certainly created a desire for me to plan a return trip.

 

1. Get My Dream Job Upon Graduation
When I reported to the Coast Guard Academy in 2012, it was hard for me to gauge how realistic of a goal it was for me to want to be a Coast Guard pilot upon graduation. However, with hard work and perseverance, it really is true that anything is possible. I am happy to report that on August 1, I will report to Pensacola, Florida for Naval Flight Training, and God willing, earn my wings in no more than two years. Although this last experience is a little bit of a cop-out, for those reading this, just know that no matter how hard the Coast Guard Academy is, the end reward, a commission in America’s finest seagoing service, is certainly worth it.

 

I hope you enjoyed my blog; it certainly has been enjoyable for me to relive the cool experiences the past four years have given me. If you have any questions, I invite you to email me at James.D.Engelhardt@uscga.edu. Until next time, Fair Winds and Following Seas, and always Go Bears!

 

More about James.

 

Goodbye 3/c Year, Hello Class of 2020

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Williamson Photo Just like that 3rd class year is over. It has been a year of change. I went from running track to playing rugby. I went from general education classes to major specific courses. I went from being a club member to president of Sustainability Club. I went from a follower to a role model. After everything this year I have learned two things: you have to find your own motivation and you have to embrace failure. If you can get knocked down and jump right back up, nothing will stop you.

 

While we are on the subject of motivation and failure, I would like to give a formal welcome to the Class of 2020! Your Swab Summer is rapidly approaching and I hope you are getting ready, physically and mentally. It is going to be tough (especially with the great Class of 2018 training you), but I am confident you will come out as a strong and unified class. After I swore in on my R-Day, my dad told me something that has stuck with me to this day: this summer may stink, and it may be difficult but in the end when you look back on your life, this summer will be one of your greatest memories. You should try to embrace every moment and appreciate what you are a part of.

 

Other than that, I can give you basic advice. 1. Make sure someone sends you food weekly. That is all I asked for in my letters home. 2. Write letters. Bring stamps and paper! You are going to want to write home. 3. Bring a picture of your family and friends. Remember who you are doing this for. Just seeing their faces helps. 4. Don’t quote me on this but, don’t worry about the socks. Just get a pack of socks that you actually want to wear (for me that would be Nike mid-calves). It is one little personal thing you can get away with.

 

If you have seen the new Coast Guard movie “The Finest Hours” (if not, I would watch it before Swab Summer), there was an actor in it playing Coast Guardsman Mel Gouthro. He was the one who was too sick to go out in the boat with the rest of the team. I met him before Swab Summer and he is a great man with a lot of good advice. The most impactful thing he said to me before I went off was: “When you get there, look to the left and look to the right. The guy next to you is doing it, so there is no reason you can’t do it, too. And hundreds of people before you have done it, so there is no reason you can’t do it. Never willingly let anyone be better than you. Always make them earn it.”

 

So, once again 2020, good luck. I am going to be a waterfront cadre. If you remember me and tell me you read my blog, I might have a small prize for you. Go 2018, Go 2020, and Go Bears!

 

More about Cody.

 

Class of 2017 Ring Dance

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Mills Photo Ring Dance is a very momentous milestone in a cadet career. We finally have a physical connection to the Long Blue Line and to all those who have walked through the halls of Chase and across that graduation stage. The night was full of good food and lots of dancing, which made me very happy. I got a miniature rose gold band with an amethyst for my stone. Amethyst is my birthstone so it makes the ring that much more personal. The Class of 2017 cannot stop gawking at one another’s rings and I think it is just because we are in total shock that we have made it so far in our Academy careers already. Time has surely flown. My friend was also kind enough to remind me that the next huge landmark in our path is Billet Night. That was crazy to think about, and I cannot tell you for sure where I plan on spend the first two years of my career but hopefully this last summer as a cadet will inspire me to come up with an answer.

 

This summer, I will be on commercial vessels for five weeks, getting a look into the merchant mariner world and the people we serve. For the last six weeks of my training, I will be going to Sitka, Alaska for an internship. I am aware of how challenging internships are to get, in both civilian college and here, so I am super grateful that the Academy has given me this opportunity. Being able to use the science knowledge I have learned over the past two years in a real life study at the Sitka Sound Science Center will be amazing.

 

As always thanks for reading and please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions!

 

More about Sydney.