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Family is What You Make It

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Opas Photo When I first joined the Coast Guard, I considered myself to have an incredibly small family. Biologically speaking, it was just my parents, my two siblings, and me. Throughout high school, I’d expanded to include a handful of incredibly close friends, but even then, I had a small support network. Moreover, I’d subscribed to the school of thought that defined family as the people you chose to surround yourself with. But my time here at the Academy has taught me that family is something you don’t choose, rather it is thrust upon you. Even in the beginning of the semester and after Swab Summer, I didn’t realize how much my family had grown.


Sure, I had my company mates ‒ my fellow fourth class ‒ who I’d toughed out Swab Summer with. Yet even among such a group, there were those of us who didn’t click. I was truly lucky to have roomed in fourth deck Charlie fall semester, on a p-way of only fourth class. Somewhat sequestered from the rest of the wing area, we formed a tight-knit bond as our own little unit. Leaning on each other for anything from late-night Statics and Engineering Design homework help to ironing a buddy’s shirt before a formal room and wing because he had a rugby game, we had our own little microcosm. And it ran like a well-oiled machine. Yes, we had our little spats. Two or three of us would be grumpy the whole week prior to an exam, but then we’d all pile into someone’s room and shoot the breeze on a Saturday night instead of going out on liberty, just to decompress as a fam. We had our one practical joker, our resident bookworm, our cynic, our cheerleader, the list went on. Everyone was a piece of the puzzle and that suited each of us just fine. But there was another of my company mates who lived on third deck, far away from the fourth deck biosphere. She has become a sister and a mother to me, through all the first semester’s trials and tribulations.


It was roughly 10 a.m. the Saturday of Parents’ Weekend, the two of us standing in the grass before Hamilton Hall with the hordes of parents and loved ones, all related in some fashion or other to different members of the Corps of Cadets. My parents were unable to make it up to Connecticut for the weekend, so I didn’t have anyone to look forward to seeing. To top it off, I was recovering from an injury ‒ just like my shipmate ‒ so we both couldn’t drill. But from the moment she and I waved her parents over to join us in watching the pomp and circumstance of the special drill ceremony, that bond of sisterhood solidified. Her unconditional acceptance of me into her family is one of the things that has grounded me during my time in New London, in an environment where it’s really easy to lose yourself in the stress.


Your family here is that which makes you smile and laugh every day in spite of all the class assignments, sports obligations, and military trainings. It’s what makes you get up in the morning instead of rolling over after reveille to sleep in, like any other college kid. It makes getting through the workday an exercise in trying not to laugh at each other’s blunders rather than a string of failures and insurmountable challenges. The idea of family is that which makes the Coast Guard the Coast Guard, and it’s what makes this academy just that little bit better than its sister academies.


More about Leah.


Support, Strength, Family

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Wheeler Photo Over the course of my (almost) one semester here, I have noticed something about the Corps of Cadets at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Something unique to our school and something I have heard translates into the fleet as well. There is a sense of togetherness here that I haven’t experienced anywhere else, a corps-wide bond that is unspoken but mutual. Everyone here treats each other as family and will help each other, regardless of class or age, without a moment’s hesitation. Sure I experienced friendships and support at Marion Military Institute (my prep school), but there is something very special about the Academy, something about its size and the mindset that is shared by each and every cadet that fosters strong ties and connections, promoting a family unit. If there is one thing that sets the U.S. Coast Guard Academy apart from every other service academy, let alone every other college in the nation, it is the support system that can be described as nothing short of family.


More about Pat.


A Writer at Heart

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Wheeler Photo I have always loved writing! English and history were always my favorite subjects in high school, the various essays we would be assigned I considered to be a welcomed challenge and overall really fun. I oftentimes wrote for fun in high school, sometimes just recounting the events of the day, other times creating adventure-filled short stories purely for enjoyment. My senior year of high school, I wrote the daily paper for the student body (my first period was journalism and I was the only student in the class, so I had about an hour each day to create and distribute my school’s paper; my school had 95 students in total), so writing well and writing fast were skills I acquired VERY quickly. Once I discovered the Academy had a Cadet Blog Club, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t sign up for the club fast enough. I am eager to begin submitting monthly contributions about the Academy and all it has to offer! I remember being that high school student reading about all of the exciting activities at the Academy in the cadet spotlights on the Academy’s home page, now it feels almost surreal to be writing those articles myself.


More about Pat.


Continuing My Academic Journey

(Academics, Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Turner Photo Reading the cadet blogs is an excellent way to know if the Coast Guard Academy is right for you. It features entries from all types of cadets. By having each class provide entries into the blog, one can get a fairly well-rounded picture of life at the Academy. The blog also provides insight into life outside of the Academy, and into the mind of a cadet. While these experiences will differ for everyone, they can help an applicant figure out what might be in store for them.


That one such applicant was me. When I was applying to the Academy, I would read a blog entry nightly. Reading about the rigor of the academic year, the mental battle during Swab Summer, and the epic 3/c summer, I was even more excited to come here. Hopefully, I will be able to do the same for the future classes.


The Cadet Blog Club is much more than a small club. It’s the best way to recruit future cadets. I say this because, it’s always available and it’s from the cadets, to the prospective cadets. There is no other way to know about the Academy than to hear it from the people that are part of the program. Since each cadet has a different background, they can give a different insight into life at the USCGA. I want to provide a little more diversity to an already diverse program, and hopefully help a future cadet figure out that the Academy is a major gateway to success.


More about Anthony.


On Taking Advice from Strange Cadets on the Internet

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Swift Photo Cadet blogs were my first experiences with the CGA, really. I can remember, before I had even decided to come to the Academy, my mom and I would read the cadet blogs. We had discovered the blogs, sitting innocuously on the left side of the CGA webpage, innocently enough. There was a picture of a smiling cadet and an intriguing tagline. It drew us in. Those cadets became the face of the Academy. When the pressure to decide on a college got pretty intense, I tried very hard to stick my head in the sand, and any conversation between my mom and I went about like this:


Mom: “So, where are you going to college?”


Me: “I don’t know. I think I’m joining the circus. Leave me to my existential dread.”


Mom: “You should read this cadet blog…and maybe go for a run.”




In a way, I think my life was pretty influenced by those blogs – and the advice of the bloggers. Swab Summer would’ve been vastly different had I not known what little I did about the Academy. This place pretty much runs on cadet advice, firstie to fourth class and all in between. More than anything though, the blogs gave my family and I the peace of mind that we needed; these were living, breathing cadets who lived and breathed their way through Swab Summer and turned out just fine.


Though my summer was rough, and switching from “swab mode” to “student mode” is confusing for most all fourth class, the advice of people who’ve been in our shoes gets us through. From tips and tricks on how to wear the uniform, to how to avoid getting in major trouble, upper class cadets run the show and run it well. They look out for us, and look out for each other, too. I know parents always told us not to listen to strangers on the internet (and that was actually excellent advice), but I’m glad that I did in the case of cadet blogs. It’s strange to think that I was taking cadets’ advice long before I ever met them – before I could’ve ever imagined that I would be living a few doors down from them – before I considered them siblings.


I wholeheartedly believe that the Corps of Cadets is a family. Sure, siblings squabble, but I have seen them come together and it’s a powerful force. Cadets can do anything when they put their heart into it, whether that be finding harmless loopholes in the wardroom rules or getting a struggling fourth class through a tough academic semester. Remarkably, their kindness isn’t reserved just for cadets – it extends to CGA families, to potential cadets, and to anyone they meet. We’re the Coast Guard, a family who makes it their mission to help where they’re needed most. Blogging might be the one small way in which I can lend a hand, like the advice prior blogs helped me. Even if I am just a cadet on the internet.


P.S. You can trust me. I’ve had a background check!


More about Delaney.