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cadet blogs

From AIMster to AIM Cadre

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Pavan Photo When I attended AIM in 2013, I found the six-day experience to be eye-opening and challenging; I was not very familiar with the function of service academies at the time, so I was not sure what to expect, but surely I was not let down. Naturally, after leaving CGA and heading home, I was left with more questions than answers in regard to what type of college experience would be the best fit for me. Nonetheless, I left with a sense of pride in myself and a newfound respect for the members of the United States Coast Guard.


Returning to the AIM program a second time around as cadre was another enlightening experience, and not just because I wasn’t the one lost this time. After two years at this institution, I realized that this would be the first interaction with any Coast Guardsman for many of the students. I had upheld high expectations for myself and my fellow cadre to ensure these prospective cadets who have been placed in my care have a basic and fair understanding of both the academic and physical rigors cadets face here. Also, as my own AIM cadre instilled in me, the necessary values and character traits demanded of cadets and Coast Guard officers: honor, respect, and devotion to duty. One of my favorite parts of the program was being able to share the wealth of traditions, opportunities, and experiences that we have here at CGA; this, along with teaching the AIMsters about notable Coast Guardsman heroes renewed my sense of pride in service as both a cadet and an American. I enjoyed being able to test my leadership abilities and challenge AIMsters because the most rewarding part of my role as cadre was to see them progress from individuals to a well-functioning group, overcoming struggles and using teamwork, all in only six days.


In addition to leading AIMsters, I learned so much about leading and working alongside my peers. My group of AIM cadre from Whiskey 1 Platoon (all of us are in Alfa Company during the school year) are absolutely fabulous people whom I have grown so much closer with after struggling and triumphing together as a unit for three weeks. Learning about others’ experiences during their time here at the Academy was humbling, and made me even more grateful to be able to be surrounded by such great people every day.


As I’ve told my own AIMsters, if you do not get accepted into CGA your first (or second, or third) time applying, do not be discouraged. If you truly believe this is where you belong, do not ever give up and keep working toward it. I promise you will be so glad you did.


More about Bruna.


High School AIM Experience

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Stanchi Photo Before I attended AIM, I had only visited the Coast Guard Academy in person once. Now, to some, that may be more than what they experienced, but my point is that the Academy was still such a foreign place to me. I think most people can agree that their first visit to the Academy was very confusing. You don’t know what to think or what to ask because it is all so different. Well, that is why I was nervous going in to AIM; I really wasn’t sure what I was walking in to. I had done my research on AIM and Swab Summer, so I knew what might happen, or what may be done, but I was really scared to see how I would respond to it all. Even though I knew it was only supposed to be a taste of Swab Summer, I wanted to see how I would react because that was going tell me if I could handle attending this school for four years.


So, I just did it. I powered through the week and took all that I could from it. AIM is a program that not everyone gets to attend before Swab Summer, so you must take it as an opportunity to learn and ask questions if you are selected. The AIM program might have changed a little bit, but for me, the first three to four days simulated Swab Summer, in a watered-down version. We saw a lot of the Academy, went to trainings, did some incentive training, cleaned our room, folded our clothes, recited indoc, and squared our meals. It wasn’t until the end that we got to talk to our cadre, and hear from them what being a cadet at the Coast Guard Academy was like. When they talked to us, I soaked it all in. My favorite part about AIM was being able to hear what real cadets struggled with at the Academy, what they learned, what activities they were involved in, and really, how they “survived” the Academy. Hearing them speak made it seem less scary and foreign. I realized that these cadets were people from different backgrounds and different regions of the U.S., and they had made it through. They finished Swab Summer, they completed two academic years, and they stood up in front of me and talked about situations they had been in and how they got through them. As corny as it sounds, I realized they were just people. People transitioning in that weird stage from teenager to young adult.


After hearing what the academics at the Academy was like, after seeing a bit of what Swab Summer demanded, and listening to personal experiences from cadets, something was quite clear to me. I had to apply to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and give this place a try.


More about MegMarie.


AIM is a Taste of Swab Summer

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Sharp Photo When I was a junior in high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I mean, I was taught from a young age that I should aspire to go to college, but I had no idea what size or where in the country or what majors should be offered or anything about what I wanted that college to be like. I had a few family members in the military, though, and, although they were all in different branches, they always raved about the Coast Guard – a service that I had never even heard of at the time. Naturally, I started looking into it and realized there was an Academy program that summer, so I applied just to give it a shot and see if all the good things everyone was telling me about were true.


When I arrived in Connecticut to participate in AIM, I had no idea what to expect. Luckily, I was given next to zero time to think about this, as the cadre immediately took charge and told us exactly what to do, what to wear, when to eat, etc. See, AIM is a taste of Swab Summer, the seven-week program you embark on to begin your USCGA experience upon admission… sort of like boot camp. In the week-long AIM program, the first few days were very physically intense: we ran everywhere, did push-ups, learned Indoc (random facts about the Coast Guard), and tried to absorb as much information as possible. It truly was a culture shock. The last couple of days are more relaxed, as the focus is switched to more engineering-focused events, such as building a floating boat out of nominal materials.


Overall, the AIM experience was eye-opening. Looking back on it as a current 2/c cadet (junior), I can honestly say that I learned a lot, and getting that first taste of the Academy was very rewarding to me. It helped me decide that the Coast Guard is what I want to do with my life – not because of all of the push-ups and running around, and not even because of the friends I made from my AIM company that I still remain in contact with today, but because of the ability to experience the infectious culture of people helping people that our service is committed to.


More about Kristen.


AIM: My Turning Point

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Gilliam Photo The Coast Guard Academy’s Academy Introduction Mission or AIM program was my clarity moment – my turning point. There are some people who have known they have wanted to come to the Coast Guard Academy since they were little, others who have a personal family connection or experience with the Coast Guard, or some who have just always known the military was the life for them. I was not one of those people. Going into my senior year of high school, I still had no idea where I wanted to go, and the military was nowhere on my radar. I applied to a lot of regular colleges in state and out of state and I struggled over pro and con lists trying to figure out where I fit. But then that all changed when my guidance counselor told my family about the Coast Guard Academy and its many opportunities, which I immediately said “no” to. To be honest growing up in Georgia I had personally never really heard much about the Coast Guard or its mission and I just assumed it wasn’t for me. But looking back, thankfully, that was not the end of the story. Begrudgingly, I agreed to give it a chance and explore all my options, so applied for the AIM program and got in, which made me more nervous than happy because I had no idea what to expect but prepared to hate every minute of it. But life is funny like that sometimes and, when you least expect it, an experience can end up surprising you and putting you on a path you never could have imagined.


The first couple of days of AIM involved a lot of instruction and screaming, we ran everywhere, and I remember thinking, “what have I gotten myself into?” But I also remember a lot of laughter and a feeling of unity and family with people I had only just met; together we were all a little lost just trying to figure it out and help one another. We became a team. The people I met during AIM I remain friends with even today, whether they came to the Academy or not. I can still tell you the names of every single one of my cadre from AIM. That week I left feeling accomplished and surprised – a rush of confusion overtook me because I never expected to enjoy myself that much and it wasn’t a part of the plan in my head. But I came home unable to deny that it was the first college visit I had made where I felt at home and like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I waited to feel that way again with the other colleges I visited, but nothing. It was then that I decided to apply to the Academy; it was the only service academy I applied to and it changed my life. AIM was my turning point, my moment of clarity, a feeling of pride and satisfaction, and if you were like me who was very much on the fence, or even if you’re not, I highly recommend applying for the AIM program – it could make all the difference.


More about Courtney.



(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Friedman Photo I’m almost ¾ of the way done with my 2/c year and I’m trying to coordinate my 1/c summer to figure out exactly what I want to do when I graduate. With all the planning for the future, I decided to do a little reflecting from where I am now.


I thought about my decision to come to the Academy and I’ll admit it’s sometimes frustrating missing out on the ‘normal’ college experience. I talk with my friends who are at civilian schools about their life and it sounds nice. Being able to sleep in, leave campus whenever they want, wear what they want to class, not have the added military obligations, etc.


Then I went to New Orleans for a diversity and leadership conference. I thought about how much that community went through after Hurricane Katrina and the role the Coast Guard played in helping the people in the area. I talked to Coasties who spent months in New Orleans responding to Deep Water Horizon and the impact they had on the maritime community in the Gulf of Mexico. I thought of everything the Coast Guard has done and continues to do in response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.


Looking at the Coast Guard actions during these disasters and knowing that soon I’ll get to be a part of that endeavor makes the sacrifice worth it. It still stings when you have to stay in on Friday night and clean your room because you have to get up at 7 on a Saturday morning for an inspection, but you accept the sting because you know there’s a bigger picture. I know that I am associated with an exceptional humanitarian service that is making a positive difference in the lives of people every day.


No, the Academy is not ‘normal’ college, it is difficult, and honestly it is exasperating at times, but for me, knowing that I’ll be able to make a positive impact on the world makes it worth it.


If you have any questions feel free to email me at


More about Jill.