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cadet blogs

There's Only More to Come

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Haerr Photo Hey, y’all!

 

It’s been a while, and sad to say it, but it’s the nature of the beast here at the Academy! Cadets get so wrapped up in all of our academic, sports, and military obligations, but our shipmates will remind us to take a breather and to keep on laughing and smiling.

 

Since my last entry in February (Yikes! It’s been a long time!), I went through 4/c Boards, earned my 3/c red shields, experienced the best of 3/c summer, and now am into the academic school year of fall 2015!

 

4/c Boards was an awesome experience. Yes, it’s scary and frustrating, but I have never been so proud to work so hard to learn the most I could about the Coast Guard. I have found that the upperclassmen are really rooting for us to excel so that we can join them out in the fleet. During spring break, we as a corps experienced a tragic loss when our two Georgian international shipmates passed away in a fatal car accident. RADM Stosz, our superintendent at the time, brought all of us together as a family to mourn our loss and to inspire continual strength in moving forward. It was an incredible feeling to share our memories and what we have learned from the wise lives of our two lost shipmates.

 

After spring finals concluded, I went straight into my 3/c summer assignment: Coast Guard Small Boat Station Ponce de Leon Inlet in New Smyrna Beach, Florida for five weeks and then the USCGC Barque Eagle for six weeks. The small boat station was the best opportunity to learn from the enlisted crew. They taught me about successful leadership styles and how to apply them in the real fleet. I got the opportunity to contribute to the station as I had earned my Communications and Watch Stander Qualification, went through Boarding Team Member week, got OC pepper sprayed qualified, and worked toward a Boat Crew Qualification by power washing the 45s and 24s and doing routine boat checks. I witnessed and contributed to a couple of high profile search and rescue cases as well. Those five weeks re-established the passion and reasons I had for joining the Coast Guard, and I honestly never felt more blessed with such an incredible opportunity to serve.

 

Once the five weeks had passed, I went back to the Academy for a night, only to wake up at 0400 the next morning to board the Barque Eagle in Staten Island, New York. The six weeks on Eagle were long and exhausting, but also rewarding. I earned my Helm and Lookout, Auxiliary Watch, and Damage Control qualifications. I got many opportunities to test my fears as I climbed up to the royals and also hauled on lines in the middle of the night when tropical storms were brewing. We also had amazing port calls: Staten Island, Philadelphia, Bermuda, Portland, and Boston! During these port calls we were given a couple of days with our classmates to explore and visit these tourist destinations.

 

At the end of these six weeks, we concluded our 3/c summer with three weeks of summer leave. I went home to Texas and had a blast catching up with friends and family and sharing my incredible taste of Coastie life with them.

 

Now, 3/c year has finally begun and it’s off to another school year soon to be filled with even more precious memories. This fall, I am again a cheerleader for our mighty Bears football team. I am also embarking on the Civil Engineering pathway, taking some major-specific classes. It’s been quite a year, a lot has changed and a lot has been learned, and there's only more to come!

 

More about Kathryn.

 

9/11

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo September of 2013 was the first time I laid eyes on Ground Zero. The first major performance for the Academy’s Glee Club was a memorial service at Sherwood Island in Connecticut, just a day or two before 9/11. You could look across the water and see where the Twin Towers used to soar above the horizon, before that terrible day 14 years ago. This particular service honored the 161 Connecticut residents who perished that day. Family members and government officials reflected on the impact of 9/11, and the names of the dead were read aloud. It was one of my favorite performances of the year. It was not a rambunctious party in Germany, a dinner at a yacht club, or the National Anthem at a spirited football game; as fun as those might be, the short-lived emotional effect I feel after singing at those events pales drastically in comparison to the sensations in my heart after the choir performed for that ceremony.

 

9/11 has become more and more important to me in recent years, yet I can’t place my finger on any singular reason why that is. I think it’s a conglomeration of the different realizations that have slowly penetrated my mindset since I reported to the Academy – that there are enemies who want to see the United States crumble; that too many families face a perpetual battle against the grief they feel from the loss of loved ones; that protecting them from further harm is the least we can do as a nation; that my own parents or brothers could be the ones whose names are read aloud at a somber ceremony. The opportunity to be close enough to Ground Zero to have actually visited it twice certainly has helped the trauma of that day come alive to me as well. I will never cease to be grateful for having set foot on the memorial in New York City, and for rendering honors to the World Trade Center as we sailed by on Eagle last year. I only wish those people who died that day could know we were saluting their memory.

 

At the 9/11 Memorial Museum, there is a wall with a quote from Virgil. “No day shall erase you from the memory of time.” After having spent the last few years learning more about 9/11 and what it means to so many people and truly beginning to take its impact to heart, I can say that that quote rings true for me. I think it does for the rest of our nation as well, and the rest of the world. We are a resilient people, and while we still feel the pain of loss, we also see the power of our country and the hope of its citizens.

 

More about Abby.

 

What a Summer

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Krause Photo As the school year is approaching full swing, I can’t help but reminisce about my past summer. My whole time here I have heard that 2/c summer was the best one the Academy has to offer, and they were right! This past summer was mainly focused around growing as leaders and transitioning from the follower role we held the first two years at the Academy. I was able to have some amazing experiences and learn a lot about myself.

 

One highlight of my summer was Cadet Aviation Training Program (CATP). I was able to really see how awesome the aviation community is and understand the importance of their mission. A few of my highlights from that week were getting lifted into a helicopter in a rescue basket, flying both a C130 fixed wing and a H60 Dolphin, and enjoying the beautiful beaches of Pensacola.

 

Only a few short weeks later and I was sworn in as cadre. I was Cadre 1 this summer so I was able to oversee R-Day and the chaos that ensued when you try to convert 36 high school students into military members in mere hours. I absolutely loved my time as cadre and learned so much about what it is like to lead others and work efficiently with your peers. Another highlight of my summer was Coastal Sail Training Program (CSTP), which allowed us to practice leading our peers through holding different positions on the Leadership 44 boats. We sailed all over New England with port calls in beautiful locations such as Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and Woods Hole. I truly felt like a rich yachter for two weeks!

 

I concluded my summer with two weeks of leave in Iceland with my family. It is hands down the most astoundingly beautiful place I have ever been. Prior to traveling there I had heard that 80% of Icelanders believed in elves, and after my time there I definitely join them in that belief! Looking back on this whirlwind of a summer I can’t help to think about how lucky I am to be here. The school year might be tough, but the summers at the Academy make all the hard work worth it!

 

More about Gretchen.

 

Transition from 4/c to 3/c

(Academics, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Condon Photo Hey guys! Sorry it’s been so long since I posted, but things have been really hectic in my life over the past year. I greatly underestimated how busy I would be 4/c year. I participated in three varsity sports last year, meaning that I never had an off season. In addition to sports, academics were also very difficult for me. First semester went by pretty easily, but second semester came and I was constantly busy. Beginning second semester, studying until 2 a.m. became common. I also began to struggle more than before. Chemistry II and Calculus II pushed me farther than I ever have been academically. I would spend hour upon hour studying for Chemistry only to get a 55 percent on a test. It was extremely frustrating to constantly fail. About halfway through the semester, after spring break, I changed my study habits and began to work more with my classmates. I remember in high school, I would avoid studying with other people over fear of distraction. However, group studying actually saved me toward the end of 4/c year. Anyway, I finished 4/c year and managed to get at least a C- in Chemistry and Calculus, thankfully avoiding academic probation.

 

Once 4/c year came to an end, my mind left academics and began thinking of qualification boards and boat crew sign-offs. I was first phase Eagle and I actually had a pretty good time. Eagle is a lot of work, but the ship will take you to some really cool places! Half my class and I went to Key West, Nassau, Norfolk, and Staten Island. After Eagle, I reported to Station Emerald Isle in North Carolina for the second half of my summer. At the station, the other cadets and I stood communications watch, which is basically monitoring the radios and answering the phones, I helped around the station, went underway on the small boats, and worked on boat crew sign-offs. After six weeks at the station, it was finally time for summer leave. Summer leave was fun, but after going home I started to notice more of a detachment from my high school friends than before. A lot of cadets talk about this happening, but I never believed it until this summer. Because of this, I mostly just spent time with my girlfriend and family.

 

I’ve been back as a 3/c now for almost a month, and already it’s very different. I was talking to a second class earlier this year and he told me the biggest difference between a 4/c and 3/c is as a 4/c you never realize just how nice everyone is here. When you’re a 4/c, everyone seems to always watch you, correct you, mentor you, and ensure that you are doing everything right. However, as a 3/c, people treat you differently. There’s still mentorship and people may step in to correct you but you are not as objectified and are treated more like an adult and friend.

 

If you have any questions, feel free to email me.

 

More about Ryan.

 

2/c Summer Recap

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Seaman Photo Hello! I realize it has been a long time since my last blog, but that just means I will have a lot to talk about on this one! I am at the beginning of my first semester of 2/c year, which means I just finished cadre summer. It was a great experience transitioning into being a leader from previous follower and mentor roles. Working with the swabs and watching them develop into 4/c was extremely valuable. The summer was also filled with parts other than being a cadre. For example, we participated in a two-week sailing program called Coastal Sail, which allowed us to sail to places in New England like Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. It was a blast learning how to sail, interact with people, and lead a crew.

 

Another week a group of us went to Air Station Mobile in Alabama to learn about aviation. This week was another one of my favorites. We got to fly Coast Guard helicopters and use the simulators at the air station. This week fueled my interest in aviation and solidified my desire to become a pilot. My hope is to go to an air station during my “firstie” summer to get even more exposure to aviation. That is what I have been up to for the last couple of months; I look forward to writing more about the academics during 2/c year once I get a bit farther into the semester!

 

More about Rachel.

 

Summer 2015 – Week by Week

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Glick Photo Looking back on the summer, it seems that Academy summers get better and better every year. The first one, Swab Summer, isn’t exactly fun, but you learn to make the best of it. 3/c summer is long, or at least mine was, as I was underway (on board a cutter) for 11 weeks. This summer however, I moved around every week, seeing new places, meeting new people, and learning about different Coast Guard missions every day. Here are some highlights of my summer, week by week.

 

100th Week: New London, Connecticut 

 

0400, Monday Morning: GET UP CADETS. YOU’RE LATE!
Company Commanders literally kick off 100th week by almost kicking my door down. 100th Week marks the halfway point in our cadet careers. The point of 100th Week is to pump us up for the coming summer, strengthen our class identity, and prepare us for cadre summer. The Cape May Company Commanders, or the drill instructors who train enlisted personnel, traveled to the Academy for 100th Week. They trained us for the first three days and reminded us of what it is like to be a trainee, and acclimated us to the environment of Swab Summer. The rest of the week we learned how to effectively train recruits, practiced confidence on the Stone’s Ranch Obstacle Course, and went over the basics of giving military presentations to superiors and subordinates. It was a tiring week, but it ended with a great ceremony when we became 2/c cadets.

 

Cadet Aviation Training Program: Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida 

 

0430, Saturday morning: I stumble out of my rack, and throw my sea bag on my back.
It’s time to climb into a government van to go to the Hartford airport. Groggy, tired, but excited, I finally land in Mobile, Alabama. Lieutenant Commander picks us up—the same LCDR who teaches math at the Academy flew out to be our officer in charge for the week. There were orientation and safety checks during the first few days, and before I know it, I’m in the cockpit of a helicopter. The pilot asks me if I’d like to take a shot at driving. Sure, I said. He switches controls over to my side, hundreds of feet in the air! He takes his hands off of his controls and pulls out a notebook, takes a sip of his water, trusting that I can drive the aircraft myself—on my first time flying! A rush of excitement and fear converge while I drive down the Alabama coast for almost 45 minutes. After growing up near Air Station Atlantic City and seeing helicopters fly overhead every day, I can’t believe I am now flying one. Time passes, and we visit the infamous “dunker” and aviation training center in Pensacola, Florida, which dunks aircrew candidates underwater, blindfolded, and without any air in a makeshift helicopter—what a sight! We visit the National Aviation museum, enjoy a few morale events with the aviators on the beach, play some volleyball, and fly in fixed wing aircraft on search and rescue missions at 0200 in the morning!

 

Summer 2015 – Week by Week (Continued) PDF;

 

More about William.

 

I Love What I Do

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Johnson Photo This summer started off with 100th week, after which I became a 2/c cadet and then I moved on toward many adventures. It’s amazing to see how much I’ve grown in just a few months…more than in any school semester at the Academy. From learning how to give commands and drive a small boat to conning the USCGC Barque Eagle as she sailed in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean so that the Class of 2019 could develop a love for the sea and its lore, our class has come a long way. Hopefully, the love they develop is as much of the love for Eagle as I have.

 

Of all the groovy things I got to do this summer, which I definitely wouldn’t have done anywhere else, my favorite was being Eagle cadre for three weeks. I went through the beginning of my summer wondering if I was truly ready to lead people especially on a sailing vessel where, if everyone is not doing their part, someone could easily lose a part. You know what though? Everything turned out the exact opposite of what I expected. My personal relationships are much stronger than they were before 100th week. My self-trust and confidence had a great boost by leading, teaching, and mentoring others and I found that that’s where my purpose in life lies; to help and mentor other people. Now I need to take my life struggles by the horns and allow myself to shine as bright as I can. When I do, people notice. For example, third week into being cadre, Eagle had the honor of hosting cadets from Japan on board. One night on the mess deck, where we eat, my best friend and I were talking to a few of the Japanese cadets and one said, “Angela, you are the happiest person on board. Why is that?” I didn’t even have to answer. My best friend at the Academy answered, “She loves what she does.” I couldn’t say it any better. I have to love what I do and love myself for what I do in order to have everything right in my world. I can’t go wrong with that and it proved itself over again at different times during the summer, especially on Eagle and even now as I write this on the first day of classes. This past summer was the best experience of my life and I will never forget it.

 

More about Angela.

 

There’s More to New London Than the Academy??!

(Just for Fun, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Kimura Photo The school year could not have come any faster. I swear I was packing up my room’s contents into my trunk only yesterday, but that happened over three months ago. Although it can feel like I never left Chase Hall, I definitely am not the 4/c (freshman) that left for summer training. After being back at the Academy for a couple weeks, the experience on the faces and in the actions of my shipmates (and mine) shows. With the extensive time put in over the summer on Eagle and at stations, I appreciate the new sense of free time as a 3/c. This gives me the leisure to seek opportunities that I enjoy.

 

The other weekend, I finally got a glimpse of the sights, food, and activities around the New London area. First, I discovered that Rhode Island, only about 30 minutes away, has amazing beaches; one of which Taylor Swift has a beach house on. Second, there are various campsites around; 20 minutes south is Rocky Neck Park. Third, I love fruit and came upon a website that lists the local fruit that is in season, as well as the farms growing them. I actually got to “pick my own” blueberries, which tasted quite scrumptious. Also, I took advantage of 3/c rec gear by biking to Panera with a friend. It took the same amount of time as the Libo bus, but seeing the neighborhoods and enjoying the fresh air felt much more satisfying. I look forward to doing more exploring outside the Academy, especially since I should get familiar with the area since I’ll be here for another three years.

 

More about Amy.

 

Visiting the Japanese Coast Guard Academy

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Tousignant Photo This past summer I had the unique experience of traveling to the Japanese Coast Guard Academy located in Hiroshima with two of my shipmates in order to take part in an international conference. The main objective of the conference was to bring together the coast guards of the U.S., Canada, South Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, and Japan in order to exchange ideas about how coast guard academies as well as coast guards operate and carry out procedures. I stayed in the barracks with the Japanese cadets and was able to learn about their culture through their actions and regulations. There was a cultural experience day in which I had the opportunity to wear Japanese traditional dress, play instruments significant to Japanese culture, and observe the process of making green tea. Surprisingly, there is no initial boot camp when freshman enter the academy because the freshman are already so respectful and understand the hierarchical system that the military operates by.

 

As a Government major, I had studied Japan a little bit and learned about their form of government as well as problems facing their nation such as an aging population. However, being immersed into a culture is completely different than reading about it in a textbook. The Japanese cadets were the most selfless and genuinely welcoming people I have ever encountered. They wanted to share their culture with us and took interest in anything we had to say. We discussed commonalities between academies such as cadets learning effective time management, strong communication skills, the value of respect, and the development of lasting relationships.

 

Every day, we went out into the city with our fellow coasties and experienced four level arcades, numerous outdoor malls, karaoke bars, etc. The food was absolutely excellent: okonomiyaki, shabu-shabu, momiji manju, soba tempura, udon, and many more delicious dishes! On the weekend, we visited Miyajima, home of the giant Torri Gate, which marks the entrance of the famous Shinto shrine. 2/c Neubig and I also went to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, to see the Japan maritime self-defense submarines, and the Yamato Museum, which showcased World War II history. If I wasn’t a cadet at the Coast Guard Academy then I probably would have never had the opportunity to go to a foreign country like Japan, and even if I did, it would definitely cost a significant amount of money. The most noteworthy thing I took away from this experience was the importance of having an open mind and also body language when it comes to communication. Even though it was difficult to communicate verbally, the Japanese students tried very hard to talk to us in English but most of the time we used body language as the main form of communication. I am never going to forget the international friends I have made and the welcoming nature they embodied! It was truly the best experience of my life.

 

More about Jackie.

 

Prep Program Cadre...Worth Waiting For

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Mills Photo This summer by far has been the most impactful experience I have had at the Coast Guard Academy so far. The two most rewarding programs I was able to be a part of were, first, the training of the incoming cadet candidates for the Coast Guard Academy Scholars (CGAS) program and then the Marine Safety Training Program. The CGAS program sends students with high potential to preparatory school in either Georgia Military College or Marion Military Institute. I myself went through the prep program and can say it was one of the best years of my life. I met great people and got pumped to join the United States Coast Guard. Speaking of great people, I actually met one of my best friends through the prep program. Ivonne Lassalle from Puerto Rico prepped with me in 2012. We became roommates and soon thereafter best friends. We have been planning our quad speeches since August 9, 2012 for when we would one day be CGAS cadre. Our silly dreams turned into an incredible reality when this summer we were able to stand side by side as cadre. Going through the journey from cadet candidate to 2/c cadet and training the future of our Coast Guard was amazing to me. I also could not have even begun this journey without the various mentors I had through all these years. I will never forget my cadre experience.

 

The Marine Safety Training Program was interesting in a different way because I was able to see a lesser-known side of the Coast Guard that undertakes important missions. As an MES major, I really appreciated the work that the sector’s Prevention Department did to ensure that vessels met all the requirements of the Coast Guard in order to operate with minimal environmental impact. The Response Team at sector also had just the most interesting and friendly people who were passionate about what they did. I feel better prepared to enter the fleet knowing another component of our operational Coast Guard.

 

This new school year also has so much to offer! Ivonne will be away at West Point doing an exchange program the service academies all offer, and I will be guiding the new freshman (4/c) to be members of our corps. I have also decided to do a directed study where I get to work with professors to solve real-world problems in our aquatic ecosystems! The Academy provides us with so many opportunities to learn and explore. I definitely made the right decision sticking through prep school and coming to the Academy.

 

More about Sydney.

 

Fast Times on Regimental Staff

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Engelhardt Photo Hello and greetings! I hope this blog finds you well as the summer months start dwindling to a close and preparations begin for autumn. As I write this, I am back at the Coast Guard Academy preparing for my last fall semester as a member of the Corps of Cadets. Since I drove back up to the Academy a little over a week-and-a-half ago, I have participated in a whirlwind of activity.

 

I was selected in the spring to be a member of the fall Regimental Staff, the group of cadets that lead the corps in military activities during a given academic semester. As required by my position, I reported back to the Academy early to begin preparations for my term as Regimental Communications Officer. I am chiefly responsible for conveying any information that needs to be passed on to the corps as an entire body in a professional and timely manner. Along with the other members of the Regimental Staff, I helped establish a list of goals that we hope to achieve during the semester, and laid down the framework of how we will achieve them. Additionally, we took part in DISC training to understand more about our own personality and that of other members of the Regimental Staff.

 

When the corps reported back, the real work began. Beside the normal duties of attending meetings and taking the physical fitness exam, I was also responsible for formatting a Regimental Communications Plan and tasked with approving the evening announcements that were sent out to the corps. Couple that with the hot weather and the lack of air-conditioning in Chase Hall, and it’s not hard to see how the last week felt never-ending.

 

Despite the extra work and leadership challenges my position on the Regimental Staff will give me, I look forward to being a member of this excellent team. I relish the chance to develop further as a leader in preparation of being a Coast Guard ensign, and cannot wait to see what my future holds, both at the CGA and in the fleet.

 

If you have any questions about the Coast Guard Academy, or my experiences, I invite you to email me at James.D.Engelhardt@uscga.edu. I plan on blogging again very soon! Until next time, Semper Paratus and Go Bears!

 

More about James.

 

Honing My Leadership Skills

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Sakowicz Photo As I return from leave and start CAP Week for my third time, I have been spending time reflecting and remembering my 2/c summer. My classmates and I did so many amazing and thrilling things that not only created lasting memories, but also helped me hone my leadership skills in preparation for this year.

 

I started off the summer with 100th Week when Cape May company commanders came and instructed us in the art of discipline and leadership. We learned a lot about mental stress and alternating styles of teaching to get our AIMsters or swabs to learn what we are trying to teach them. After that a group of us went to a week of Rules of the Road, or ROTR, and in that class we learned the rules of boat driving and how to react to dangerous situations. The test we took at the end of the week is not only a graduation requirement, but is the first step in learning how to drive cutters in the Coast Guard. Following ROTR a group of my classmates and I went onto the Academy’s T-boats to practice and learn basic ship handling skills. I was able to command the vessel and pull into and out of a dock, work through a man overboard drill and anchor in the Thames River. That week really helped me develop my command confidence that I would be using for the rest of the summer.

 

Range Week followed ROTR and I was able to get pistol qualified. It was really difficult to get used to the pistol, but once I did I really enjoyed the time we spent practicing and taking the test. Coastal Sail started the Monday after range, and it was definitely the best experience I’ve had in my time here at the Academy. My group was awesome and everyday was filled with hours of intense sailing. My group ended up using the least amount of engine hours because we were so determined to sail during every hour we could. I was able to explore awesome places like Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Newport, and Cuttyhunk. Every day someone else was in charge of commanding the yacht, and trying to command in 20-knot winds and 5-foot seas is an experience in and of itself.

 

I traveled to Sector New York in Staten Island for the marine safety training program (MSTP). Two of my classmates and I spent the week inspecting foreign cargo vessels, sailing shuttles, and the Staten Island ferry. We also explored NYC and Staten Island while learning about the sector side of the Coast Guard. We drove back to start the AIM preparatory week when the AIM cadre cleaned and prepared for the 2015 AIM year.

 

Being AIM cadre was the best decision I could have made. Introducing high school seniors to the Coast Guard Academy and displaying bits of swab summer and the school year gave me the opportunity to become a leader and develop myself. I had AIMsters coming up to me after graduation on Fridays thanking me for changing their lives and making them want to come the Academy even more. After those three amazing weeks, I felt responsible and well developed in leadership and extremely prepared to lead in the corps for the upcoming year.

 

More about Emily.

 

Former Cadet Blogger – A Return on Investment

(Life as a Junior Officer) Permanent link
Wowtschuk Photo Howdy, shipmates! The relationship I have with my editor can be compared with some of the great duos throughout history. She has been the grill to my Foreman, the Nike to my Lemieux, the steroids to my Armstrong, and now, by pressuring me out of retirement for one last “Blog of the Century,” she has become the Pacquiao to my Mayweather. And, like “Money,” I hope to, once again, become TBBE (The Best Blogger Ever) through solid fundamentals, impeccable style, and timely hugs.

 

Let me start by bringing everyone up to speed on what I have accomplished so far as a commissioned officer in the United States Coast Guard (this will be brief). In a nutshell, I moved to the PNW, went to the Arctic Ocean three consecutive summers, moved to Texas, grew a beard, and am currently maximizing the U.S. Government’s return on investment in my education. In the hopes of imparting some valuable insights about life after the Coast Guard University, I am going to share my experience during each of these chapters of my life.

 

I begin my journey in the PNW, or Pacific Northwest for all you out-of-touch, non-organic eating, macro-beer drinking, mainstream entertainment enjoying, melanin sufficient southeasterners. Moving to Seattle? The first thing I recommend doing is reject the corporate mainstream fashion value of the lames, and start cultivating your own individual style. This involves wearing a working class hat, having thick rimmed glasses (bonus if you actually need them to see), growing facial hair popular in the 19th century, sporting a t-shirt with some sort of anti-establishment message, and rocking multi-colored socks. As a general rule of thumb, wear clothing only popular prior to 1992, because you don’t want to stand out. Once you have learned to march to the beat of your own drum, and fully embraced hipster “counter culture,” you can begin to appreciate all the PNW has to offer.

 

The Arctic Ocean is an incredibly fragile ecosystem, virtually untouched by civilization, and contains some of the most endangered animals known to man. Fortunately, the polar bear does not fall into this last category. Polar bears are some of the most incredible animals alive but they are not endangered (seriously, look it up). They were so common, that when sighted I would invariably think “oh cool, ANOTHER polar bear...let me know when it turns into a narwhal”.

 

Texas is the opposite of Seattle in just about every way imaginable. Upon entering the state, I was issued a hand gun, a Texas state flag, and a copy of George Strait’s Greatest Hits. I did not realize people actually wore cowboy outfits as a serious fashion decision. As a native New Yorker, it has been a slow, and at times, painful adjustment to the Texas culture. If you remember nothing else, remember to shape your cowboy hat. It will save you an embarrassing night at the local dance club.

 

Finally, as a Coast Guard representative at a top engineering research institution, I hold myself to the highest of standards. I understand my role as a graduate student, and embrace the notion that my job is to work hard and learn as much as possible. The Coast Guard is investing in me and I must return the investment in full. This involves avoiding the many distractions present at a major university, or pitfalls as I like to call them. Here are a list of pitfalls that I am regularly challenged with: waking up whenever I want, discounted menu options until 11 p.m. at local dining establishments, SEC Division I college football games, interacting with young women who are more interested in the social aspects of college than the educational ones, traveling, and, of course, the most dangerous pitfall of all, not adhering to the Coast Guard uniform and grooming standards.

 

I think this “Blog of the Century,” lived up to its hype, much like the “Fight of the Century,” did. I will leave you with these wise words from the greatest boxer of our generation, Floyd “Money” Mayweather: "I am the best. There is nobody better than me.”

 

Fun Fact: I am allergic to apples.

 

More about Bo.

 

An Absolutely Remarkable Summer

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo Well, this last summer was most certainly a whirlwind of activity! Second class summer is particularly exciting, as you do several different programs through the 11-week training term. My two favorite programs were, without a doubt, being cadre for the swabs and going to the Cadet Aviation Training Program down in Mobile, Alabama.

 

There is nothing more rewarding than spending three weeks with the people who are going to be your replacements once you promote out in the fleet, teaching them the skills they need and giving every minute of your time to their development. It’s exhausting, to tell the truth; not a lot of sleep is involved, and you’re on your feet almost every second of the day. But, for me, it was always worth it to see how my swabs grew together as a team. The best times for me as cadre were the times I got to simply observe them working together to accomplish a task, whether that was at the ropes course, IC sports, or a challenge in the barracks. I loved seeing their team dynamic and getting glimpses of each swab’s personality, watching them start to gel as a team. Teamwork is absolutely critical at this school; there is no way you can make it through four years of intense academics and detailed training without your friends and classmates by your side. I am so grateful to have been one of the first people to work with Golf Company’s Class of 2019, and to be in the unique position of watching their growth from when the very first entered the Coast Guard!

 

I did three weeks straight as cadre with the swabs then I got to end my summer with a week of flight. I travelled with seven other classmates down to the Coast Guard’s Aviation Training Center in Alabama. Lordy, was it hot there…but, in spite of that, I got some incredible exposure to a fascinating field within the Coast Guard! We visited the flight training school in Pensacola, toured the base, and of course spent hours in the air. I actually got to pilot some of the aircraft, namely a C-144 and a 65 (Dolphin helicopter)! It was certainly a rush, and definitely a game changer in my career plans. I had been on the fence about putting in for flight school, and CATP helped me realize that flying is what I want to do in the Coast Guard. I really love how the Coast Guard is so willing to throw cadets into new situations and push us to our limits – no one outside this service would ever dream of letting an untrained 20-year-old fly a plane over Mobile Bay. What a privilege, and a great model for us to follow in our careers as we travel and experience all sorts of foreign things with ensign stripes on our shoulder boards!

 

Second class summer was absolutely remarkable, and I’m excited to have that continue into the school year. I have a lot on my plate with clubs, company leadership, and of course my own spiritual and personal life and I know every minute I spend on those things will be repaid with an amazing year and an even more amazing career! Time to get the school year rolling!

 

More about Abby.

 

The Road Ahead

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Corbett Photo It has been a while everyone, but as always, better late than never! After watching my cadre class receive their billets, go through Capstone assignments and finally graduate, it has me thinking about legacy…what each member of 2015 left behind, or who they left behind. Sure, there were athletic stars, superior students, and those in command positions, all of whom came and went, but those are factual leave behinds. What truly should matter when you leave this great paradise is that you offered what you could to those under you.

 

With that mentality, here I sit as a 2/c. I now have been through cadre summer and have seen the other side of the field; the grass is greener, by the way. More importantly, we, as the Class of 2017 are to carry on 2015’s legacy through our swab class. It is just the way the mentorship here works, odd years train odd years, and even years train even years. Legacy, family, and team are my themes coming into this year. I figured I would just give a blurb on what I hope is the mentality shared by the Class of 2017.

 

Legacy: 2015 was a great class. They trained us and, of course, I am biased in saying that we are a great class because of them. The lessons they taught us are those which I hope to carry through to 2019 and years to follow. They taught us simple things such as how to have fun in a place like this. Smiling does not have to be a rare occurrence; it is a choice to be happy or sad, not a force. When we had to go to a mandatory sporting event, 2015 showed up ready to have fun rather than sit there and sulk. It felt like a family when we were at those events, which segues to the next big thing passed through our mentors.

 

Family: The Class of 2015 was a family. They fought and overcame many obstacles but at the end of the day, they supported each other. You could see it in the way they joked with each other during announcement time in the wardroom (cafeteria). They supported each other through thick and thin and made a very welcoming environment here at the Academy. They worked together through regimental staff and company staff to fulfill a stellar final year.

 

Team: We are all in this together. Not just class by class but as one single Corps of Cadets. We need to work together in order for this place to run. It is important to remember that. Whether it is staying up late to help a shipmate with homework, or just listening to someone vent about a bad day, we are a family, but better yet, we are one united team.

 

These three words are just pieces to what I hope to impart to the Class of 2019. Three words that 2015 has drilled into my head as a guiding way to survive and ultimately move the corps forward.

 

Go 2015
Go 2017
And Go 2019, welcome to the corps.
Shane Corbett
Shane.P.Corbett@uscga.edu

 

More about Shane.

 

Best Summer of My Cadet Career

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Pourmonir PhotoJune

 

As school came to an end, summer came swiftly and undetected. One minute I was studying for finals and the next I was getting yelled at. Let me preface this entry with an explanation of what one’s 2/c summer is like. First, you experience 100th Week. That is an entire week devoted to training you for your upcoming duty of training the incoming class of cadets. The rest of your summer might vary from your classmates a little in scheduling but it will be similar in that you will all be entering what will most likely be the most exciting summer of your life. You spend a week shooting to qualify in pistol at the range, a week taking the Rules of the Road class, a week on training vessels practicing your new found knowledge, a week at a Coast Guard air station, and two weeks sailing up the coast. Now with a better understanding of what my summer entailed, let me bring your attention back to 100th Week. They brought in the Cape May Company Commanders to instruct us 2/c cadets on how best to train, develop, and prepare the incoming swabs to become cadets at the Coast Guard Academy. These company commanders spend every day training the men and women who enlist in the Coast Guard. The trainees that leave Cape May go on to become rescue swimmers, saving lives of those lost at sea, or assume the another duty required to be filled in the enlisted workforce. The company commanders spent the week yelling at us for our discrepancies, making us sweat until we dropped, and ensuring we understood the real purpose of training incoming members of the military. They showed us how vital our role was in the success of the swabs. They taught us that Swab Summer is not about yelling and push-ups, but about creating individuals that will stand by us after graduation and defend the constitution with honor, respect, and a devotion to their duties. This lesson will get me through the rest of my time in the Coast Guard, and well beyond. It was just the beginning of definitely the best summer of my cadet career.

 

July

 

My cadre experience, training the Class of 2019, was one of the hardest and most rewarding things I have ever been through. The training environment was stressful and demanding, but the outcome was worthwhile. Day to day as a class we were responsible for teaching the swabs how to thrive in a military environment. From day one, their hair was cut and their uniforms were issued, and from an outsider’s perspective they might have seemed like trained military members. The true task at hand was to make them understand the importance of our core values. It was to connect them with the spirit of our mission; to challenge them to make their bodies sounder, their hearts stouter, and their minds more alert. We were expected to teach them initiative and leadership skills by meeting adversity head-on, and providing them with a valuable experience in their development as future leaders. They had to prove that they are worthy of the traditions of commissioned officers in the Coast Guard. Being a part of a process that prepares people to save lives and defend our constitution was more rewarding then I could have imagined. With our 35 incoming swabs, we spent a lot of time explaining the basics. Throughout the summer, I quickly realized that I learned more from my trainees than I could ever teach them. Their positive attitudes and determination made this cadre experience better than I could have imagined.

 

August

 

The paramount experience of my summer was definitely the Coastal Sail Training Program. I was placed on a boat with six of my classmates and a safety officer. I was given eight days to learn how to sail, how to work with my classmates, and how to lead my peers. This may sound easy but the journey proved to be a lot more difficult than I thought. My cadre section dealt with sailing all summer, so we knew the basics of sailing. The leading proved to be more stressful than I had expected. Everyone has a different leadership style, so learning to follow different leaders involves dedication and effective communication. I created a bond with my classmates that will get me through my time here at the Academy. I made friends that will last a lifetime, and as a team we were recognized for being the most intrepid sailors on the trip. As fearless and daring sailors, we returned to the Academy with a new found confidence and trust in each other that I will never forget.

 

More about Keemiya.

 

Summer in Three Parts

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Ellis Photo Hi everyone.

I just wanted to give you all an update on what I did during my final summer here at the Academy. My summer was broken into three parts: first was Inter-Collegiate Sailing Nationals, second was my time on an 87’ cutter, and third was an internship at the District One office in Boston, Massachusetts.

 

Sailing: Once again, the dinghy team qualified for both Women’s and Coed Sailing Nationals. We competed against teams from all across the country, including Yale, Stanford, and College of Charleston. I stayed and competed for Women’s Nationals, which was held at the end of May in Newport, Rhode Island. It was extremely windy, and with our light team, we did not do as well as we had hoped, finishing 11th in the country. I left for my 87’ cutter, based out of the Naval Station in Newport, after this event. The Coed Nationals were held the week after I left. The coed team placed 2nd out of the entire country, a huge accomplishment not only for the team that was there, but also for those who were already at their summer assignments. We are super excited about this finish and hope to do just as well, if not better, at Nationals next year!

 

CGC Tiger Shark: After Women’s Nationals, I headed straight to my cutter, which wasn’t a far drive since the competition’s location was right next to my cutter. I spent two weeks aboard the CGC Tiger Shark in Newport, Rhode Island. While there, I got to see a few fisheries being boarded, as well as meet and spend time with the crew and learn about life aboard a Coast Guard cutter. I realized that I really like the small cutter atmosphere and I would love to go on a smaller cutter next year.

 

District One Internship: For the third part of my summer, I spent six weeks at an internship at the District One Office in Boston, Massachusetts. Here, I spent my time using the Geographic Information System (GIS), a spatial mapping program, to create oil response plans for the entire Hudson River. I spent half of my internship in Boston, while the other half was spent traveling down 100 miles of the Hudson River. While there, I presented my project to both the District One commander and the Atlantic Area commander, which was a really awesome experience. I learned a lot during my internship about oil spill response, the CG’s role in response and how the CG works with other agencies to achieve common goals.

 

Overall, I had a really productive summer. I learned a lot and got much accomplished. I’m so glad that the CG gave me some pretty awesome opportunities this summer.

 

More about Kayla.