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Five Lessons for the Class of 2019

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Engelhardt Photo Wow! This semester has really flown by! My sincere apologies in not blogging earlier – between lacrosse, schoolwork and extracurricular activities, blogging had been put on my proverbial back burner. To the Class of 2019 arriving here for R-Day, I was hoping to impart five lessons I learned at the Academy that might prepare you for what you can expect in your undergraduate experience. Hope you enjoy – here we go:

 

5. New England is cold: For those readers hailing from southern states – New England is cold! And it’s just not cold during those typical winter months, it honestly doesn’t get what I would consider warm (consistent mid-60s) until May. That being said, all the snow can be fun; we missed a total of three days of classes (two back-to-back) and had a few late base openings and early closings due to the inclement weather that descended on New London this winter. Just be prepared to bundle up in the wintertime!

 

4. The CGA grounds are hilly: The bluffs that the Academy are situated on offer spectacular, scenic views of the Thames River. However, these views do come at a price so be prepared to feel like you’re always walking uphill when on campus. On the bright side, the hills do work miracles for your calf muscles (as do the staircases in Chase Hall – don’t even think about using an elevator).

 

3. The Academy is kinda like Hogwarts: Silly as it may sound, CGA and the fictional wizardry school do have a lot of similarities. When you arrive you are sorted into different companies (i.e., “Houses”) where you dine, live and make the majority of your friends. Although there is no Slytherin Company here, there are rivalries that come out in inter-company sports (Quidditch, however, isn’t offered).

 

2. The summers are awesome: Back on a serious track, a lot of cadets will tell you that the CGA summers really make this place stand out as special and different than civilian schools. Gaining practical knowledge in real Coast Guard units or learning leadership with your classmates are rewarding experiences that would be tough to mimic elsewhere. Not to mention, all the new and exciting places your training will take you (I’ve gotten to go to Bermuda, France, Canada, Maine, Boston, and Key West to name a few).

 

1. The friendships you make run deep: To end on an important note, because of all the rough military training you will go through with your classmates, you will develop bonds that run deeper than any friendships that you had in high school. It is no wonder that so many cadets marry each other or are the best man or maid of honor at a classmate’s wedding. The connections I have made with people at the Academy are something that I honestly treasure the most.

 

Thanks for reading! As always, if you have any questions for me about the Coast Guard Academy, Coast Guard, or military life, feel free to shoot me an email at: James.D.Engelhardt@uscga.edu. If you are a Class of 2019er, I look forward to meeting you in the fall. Go Bears!

 

More about James.

 

Message to Delta 4/c

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Daghir Photo The following is a message I was asked to write to the 4/c cadets leaving Delta Company and going off to the operational Coast Guard for third class summer. I think that it is pretty crazy that I am about to be a 1/c cadet and am getting ready for my last summer here. I have learned so much this year alone and am preparing to take command of the drill department next semester as department head. I was Master at Arms for the department this semester and it was a lot of extra work but it was rewarding and challenging. In addition, we finished up our lacrosse season without any NEWMAC wins but we played through the season admirably and I am super excited to take on the teams we played this year as a stronger no-longer-inaugural team next year. I had a lot of fun and was humbled by the experience of moving up to varsity.

 

To the 4/c:

 

I guess I'll start by saying that it was really cool to get to know you this year and to watch you assimilate into life here at the CGA. It's strange; time has passed so quickly so I don't really feel like I have much knowledge to impart on you. But I have a few things :)

 

Know that even though this year was rough and that more roughness will likely occur in the next few, this is where you are meant to be. This isn't real life but the Academy prepares us for it. I know that I still have another year here but no matter what happens in the next 52 weeks, I know that I have become a better person, more aware of those around me and better able to handle stressful situations.

 

Don't be afraid to uphold the standard. Being accountable isn't honestly that hard and if everyone is following the rules, then everything is a lot less awkward. As a 3/c, you should take pride in being a role model for the new 4/c and everyone will appreciate your work.

 

Get excited about where you are! The next three years will go by so fast if you just embrace it and have fun. Have study parties and go to sports games and take longs when you want to do something cool. Have fun with your friends and don't get into a funk about things you can't control. I only remember the good times :)

 

Each year moves faster, so if you feel like this one flew, they all are about to pick up the pace even more. Have fun and be smart this summer, learn as much as you can.

 

Remember where you came from, Delta is awesome, but get pumped about your new company, too. We're gonna miss you! Go Bears!

 

2/c Lucy Daghir

 

More about Lucy.

 

Special Thanks to Our Sponsors!

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo Today I was walking to lunch when I spotted an officer in the distance. I prepared to issue the proper formal greeting and salute…then found myself doing a hilarious little half-salute, half-overexcited wave thing as I exclaimed, “Hey, Commander! How’s it going?” Why the sudden adjustment of military customs? That particular commander happened to be one of the Academy’s sponsor parents, whose family I had visited several times! So, conflicting thoughts of “officer – salute now!” and “Hey, I know him!” resulted in a unique new gesture of acknowledgement. Maybe I can get that into our military etiquette book…

 

During Swab Summer, the incoming 4/c has the chance to fill out an application for a sponsor family. You are asked questions about where you are from, what activities you enjoy, how you feel about pets, etc. Each cadet is then matched with a family and gets the chance to have dinner with them over the summer. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for my own sponsor parents – there are truly no two more gracious and caring people! Plus, hanging out with their menagerie of creatures makes for a very good time indeed! It’s wonderful to be able to go over to a regular home and spend the night watching movies, eating delicious meals, bringing friends over, and doing homework somewhere that is NOT your Chase Hall room! These families are always there to provide support as we navigate the rough channels of Academy life. Sometimes I’ll come off of a tough week at school, frustrated and tired but then, I head over to my sponsors’ and get a chance to relax and refocus under their encouragement. It makes a world of difference at a challenging institution!

 

Each cadet has the choice to get a sponsor family officially assigned. What has never ceased to amaze me, however, is the willingness of every family to just pick up random cadets and adopt them as well. I experienced this with the aforementioned officer and his family – having met them at the Academy chapel, I wound up over at their house frequently enough that they had no choice but to call me their sponsor cadet. They perfectly exhibit the across-the-board generosity of all of the sponsors in the program. It seems like every family is thrilled to adopt more cadets than just those assigned to them! The corps is truly blessed to have such a strong support base during our four years here. If you are an incoming cadet, please strongly consider finding a sponsor, even if home is just a few hours away! You will not regret it – and your friends, who will undoubtedly wind up following you over to their home at some point, will be just as grateful!

 

More about Abby.

 

Success and Failure

(Athletics, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Cannon Photo As far as I can remember, I have enjoyed the game of baseball. I have been able to play since I was 5 years old, so my life has been molded in many ways by the game itself. I have had great days where I love the sport; while there have also been days when I wanted to quit right on the spot. In addition, I have played in pretty much every kind of terrain you can think of; from incredibly hot and humid (Georgia) days, to sheer cold temperatures where I couldn't feel my hands or my toes. I have learned many things from playing this game for so long and in so many different situations.

 

As a pitcher for the Coast Guard baseball team, I have quickly learned the reality of success and failure. Some days, I will have a great game and pitch for all nine innings without giving up hardly any hits. Conversely, I have given up three home runs in the same game and learned that failure is an equally important reality to face, if not more important. For almost 16 years, I have faced these similar cycles of success and failure, learning along the way that life is very comparable to the game of baseball. In life, we all can agree that we have failed at something before. Some more than others. I know that I have failed countless times myself. But instead of throwing in the towel, we all know that we must stand back up and roll with the punches. I could have easily given up on myself when I gave up those three home runs. But instead, this same game showed me that through failure, success can be found with tenacity and that bulldog fight.

 

More about Colton.

 

Just Be You

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Chang Photo When most people think of the military, they picture rows of robotic movements, perfectly in sync with a single command. While this may be true for things like Swab Summer and drill, this isn’t what life at the Academy is all about. Being your own person is one of the most important things in a place like this; it helps retain some sanity. I think that’s why we have Eclipse Week, a week that the Academy sets aside to appreciate diversity because times have changed.

 

This week, Academy had its annual poetry slam, followed by a talent show. We had twelve brave 4/c and two 3/c recite poetry on a variety of topics such as the discrepancies in Harry Potter to how breaking up is like owning a cat. The talent show was just as great with an awesome piano piece and step team. The winner was a 3/c who played a violin version of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” It made me wonder why he is in the Coast Guard because he probably could have gotten a record deal somewhere.

 

Last but not least, we had the honor of having officers from all over the country come to the Academy for the week. There were officers of different backgrounds, cultures, sexual orientations, ethnicities and tracks of life here. While this meant that most of the cadets had their hands in a permanent salute, it was an experience to hear these officers speak that made it all worth it. We also had the honor of having the Commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Zukunft, attend as well as the first Asian-American admiral of the Coast Guard, Rear Admiral Vojvodich. This event really reminded me of the other missions the Coast Guard – we’re not only here to save lives but also to bring them together in a way that builds a mutual understanding of who we are and what we have. So, if you come here, just be you.

 

More about Olivia.