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Cool Project, Perfect Timing

(Academics, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Stowes Photo At the Academy, 1/c cadets are required to complete final senior projects called capstones. Each major has different requirements for capstones; however, all of them address operational Coast Guard issues. For example, one mechanical engineering capstone a few years ago designed a new rescue basket for Coast Guard Dolphin helicopters. After the presentation, headquarters adopted the design and it became the standard for the Coast Guard. On the humanities side, an advanced research project into Arctic policy last year provided the Coast Guard with tangible policy and operational consultation. As you can see, these projects carry some weight, so we take them very seriously.


My capstone is an advanced research project studying Mexico. Specifically, I am going to write a paper that discusses Chinese merchant vessels smuggling meth precursor chemicals into Mexico. So far, that’s all we have been given to scope the project. I have spent the last five weeks reading about the foundations of Latin America’s culture, politics, social arrangements, economics, and more. Once I understand the history of Mexico better, I will be able to discuss contemporary issues on a much more comprehensive level. My two partners and I are not writing a simple intelligence paper about the how and when the Chinese supply meth precursor chemicals; rather, we will discuss the why questions. Why can China infiltrate Mexican institutions so easily? Why are the cartels so violent? Why hasn’t the war on drugs worked? Ultimately, our paper will analyze the works we read and any data we collect. Then we will make conclusions and recommendations to headquarters. It is our hope that our research project will help to develop a feasible and effective policy for managing the meth trade in Mexico.


Last week, we were very fortunate to have ADM James Stavridis on board the Academy. He was the Commander of the U.S. Southern Command and he retired as NATO’s supreme allied commander. Now, he is Dean of the Fletcher School. ADM Stavridis visited to discuss modern security strategies in Latin and South America. He has written a book Called Partnership for the Americas, which focuses on Western Hemisphere security, so he’s an expert on that subject.


I had the honor of getting to meet ADM Stavridis with my partners, and we had a great discussion. ADM Stavridis was very pleased to hear that we were studying Mexico and security in the Western Hemisphere. He gave us a lot of advice and contacts for our project, and he told us a little bit about his studies of Mexico and Latin America. After that, I sat in on his corps-wide speech and I heard his full policy. It is basically a mix of force and soft power (cooperation and international actions) to assure that we protect people and eliminate poverty. Poverty is a driving force in the reason people resort to drugs and support the cartels, so his speech was very applicable to my project. It was perfect timing for him to have visited.


This blog highlights that cadets are doing major projects that have real-world affects. We don’t just strive to be nationally relevant; we are nationally relevant because cadets are taking on projects that play an integral part of the operational Coast Guard’s mission success. We are fortunate to be doing such meaningful work. If you have any questions about any of my blogs, feel free to ask me anything at 


More about Hunter.


This Fall Will be Full of Memories

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Coburn Photo Well, we are officially into week two of the fall academic semester. Starting school was a bit different this year than last year to say the least. First, I got to come back to the Academy in rec gear (blue polo and khakis) instead of wearing my trops, which was a big plus. The biggest difference though was when I got into Chase; I almost ran into someone and immediately heard “Good afternoon, ma’am.” This was the moment I had been waiting for since last August, the moment when I would no longer be a 4th class. It was a little weird at first, but I can definitely say it is a lot less stressful being a 3rd class. I am in Charlie Company and I have a good division with some of my own 4th class; as a 3/c, I will be a role model for the 4/c and help them throughout the year. In addition, I am starting to take more classes that are actually related to my major and hopefully this will mean a better academic year than last.


The fall season at the Academy is probably my favorite time of the year (besides the spring, of course, for lacrosse). For one, I love the weather in the fall, especially being from New England, I am used to the crisp air and the falling leaves. There are also a multitude of sports and moral events for the corps to participate in. And who could forget Spirit Week, which leads up the Secretaries Cup! In general, it looks likes it is shaping up to be a great year and I can’t wait to make many more memories.


More about Mimi.


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.



(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.