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cadet blogs

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.

 

Saving Lives as a Cadet

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Tousignant Photo One of the main things that I often leave out when explaining my motivation for applying to the Academy was my high school desire to join the Peace Corps. This desire to help people is why I chose the Coast Guard over any other military service. I love the strict military schedule and lifestyle that meshes with my Type A personality. However, the Coast Guard is much more than a military branch. It is a lifesaving service. What recently brought this to my attention was the question of why I donate blood. I dislike waiting for hours while I could be doing homework and being poked and prodded with a needle, but I still keep going back. I realized my action to give blood was driven by the desire to save lives. Even though it is unpleasant, I believe that anyone that is able to donate blood should participate. Though cadets do not have the daily opportunity to conduct search and rescue operations, we can start saving lives without even leaving campus. The Academy is more than academics, military, and athletics. We learn how to be leaders and how to serve the people of the United States. We are required to do community and institutional service. However, cadets usually go way beyond these requirements. Taking a couple hours out of one’s day to help another makes the world a better place even though it is not always apparent.

 

More about Jackie.

 

Recruiting Leave Epiphany

(Academics, Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Mills Photo I had the opportunity to go on recruiting leave for the first time this past November the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Walking into a high school after being away from one for six years was to say the least very thought provoking. I began to think about myself in high school and what I valued most and how it compared to my values now. High school Sydney was uninterested about academics for the most part, concerned more about what I was going to wear than what I was going to learn in school. My passion was performing with the band as a member of color guard and spending crazy amounts of time after hours with the program. Seeing the high schoolers before me, I imagined many of them had similar values as I once had. Not focusing too much on academics or the future but enjoying extracurricular activities in the present.

 

Although I thoroughly enjoyed my high school experience and living in the present is so important, I am so glad I found the Academy, which has evolved my values. My interest in education has increased immensely and I have the best study habits I have ever had (not saying they are good now, but compared to before). I am more focused on my future, choosing my extracurricular activities based around those future goals. Being able to go back to a high school and promote the school I love so much was a great experience. I have so much pride in my school and I want everyone to know how valuable it has been to my growth as a person, a student, and a leader. I secretly implore all the young adults I saw in the high schools to focus on what really matters, filling their brains with the knowledge that they gain in class. Nothing will take you further. Knowledge is the key to growth in all aspects of life and the Coast Guard Academy has just opened the door for me to grow into the person I want to be. Go Bears!

 

More about Sydney.

 

Parting Words

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Daghir Photo So not to be too sad or morbid, but this may be my last Academy blog post. I guess we really should stifle the sniffles and see it for the jubilant occasion that it is: I AM GRADUATING. After 4.5 years of blood, sweat, tears, and hard work, countless friends, marching, and emails, I have to say that I am finally coming to the golden butter bar light at the end of this brick tunnel. I am sad to leave but entirely satisfied with the time and more importantly the relationships and accomplishments I will be packing up and taking with me. One of the first things to go will be the laptop that I am currently typing this blog on: the thing has a 50/50 chance of not deleting whatever document I am procrastinating my way through. But in addition to the struggling electronic systems, parade dress uniform items, and tattered bedding, I will be leaving behind the days of communal bathrooms, classroom naps, team sports, and wardroom food. I have become my own person through this crazy process and I have to say that I am still a work in progress but a lot sturdier than I was when I came in as a freshman, fragile and shiny and breakable emotionally (and physically?) but I have learned how to be mentally tough, and learned how to handle stress and even to lift a little in the gym. This experience was one in a million.

 

I guess I will leave some advice, sort of like what I left for the fourth class when I made it to the esteemed title of third class, but this is more for the second class, or the seniors looking into the kaleidoscope of their upcoming last semester. They all experience a beautiful tunnel vision that keeps all of reality from resembling anything more than brightly colored patterns in the eyes of anxious excited first class. I’ll start with a thank you: to all of my lacrosse teammates, Delta Company, and my Marine and Environmental Sciences people. I will never forget the kindness, motivation, and fun I found in spending the last four.5 years of my life with you in some capacity. I think that it is important to stay well rounded and I felt supported from every angle.

 

Okay, time for some advice:

 

  1. Smile. Don’t ever forget: no matter how rough school, drama, military, family, or friends seem, you can always take a breath, smile, and remember that life is all about perspective. You will have time, and the stuff will get done. Smiling is contagious and it actually will make you and other people feel better :)
  2. Go for it. Take every opportunity. Don’t sit on the sidelines of life. The things that we regret are those that we did not do. Be adventurous and go outside. Appreciate your ability to be in the wild, to be with friends, and with the world. Offer to help people, be adventurous – you never know what you will find.
  3. Connections are key – to next jobs, to finding fun things to do, to meeting new people and learning new things. It is important to network and to have a story about yourself that will capture all who are lucky enough to bump into you. Be unforgettable and don’t forget the people you meet. (As a side note, people really appreciate thank you cards.)
  4. Stay open minded. Remember that you are never going to have full control. Be able to stay on your toes and be adaptable. Change will happen and if you let it ruin your day it will, or it could make you stronger and better at what you do.

 

There is probably more to say but I write too much as it is. Being in the Coast Guard is cool and it teaches you a lot more than how to drive a boat.

 

More about Lucy.