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cadet blogs

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Carani Photo As I write this, I am sitting in my room listening to Christmas music, joyously embracing the change in seasons. A lot of people say that you have to wait until after Thanksgiving to listen to Christmas music, but November 1st is good enough for me!


School gets pretty hectic this time of the year, as we only have 2.5 more weeks of classes and then final exams (as of today, Nov. 11th). It seems like the projects, tests, and papers never end, but now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not so hard to stay motivated to finish up the year strong! I can’t believe this semester is already winding down; it seems like just yesterday that I was writing my first blog article of the semester! I’m looking forward to being home in a week, and getting some much needed rest and relaxation with my family and friends.


One of the best parts about being home for me (besides the food, sleep, time with family, seeing my girlfriend, and BEING HOME) is getting together with my friends from high school and “re-living the glory days” (as they say) by having an alumni basketball game at my high school! Although I am extremely rusty, having not played in two years (evidenced in the fact that my little brother now kicks my butt), it’s still a lot of fun to get together with my two brothers and all of our friends and play some Thanksgiving basketball. I know most people play flag football games, or do “Turkey Trots,” but my tradition has always been playing basketball, and I am very much looking forward to continuing the tradition this year!


Oh yeah, I almost forgot! The Mike and Mike talk show on ESPN came to the USCGA last week, and that was really cool! Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg host a talk show that can be seen on ESPN 2 and heard on the radio from 6-10 a.m., and last Thursday, November 8th, they broadcasted live from the cadet wardroom! It was great publicity for the Coast Guard Academy, but more importantly for me it was a lot of fun to eat breakfast and listen to the two of them talk about sports. Who needs TV when you have the real thing!


I hope any and all of you prospective cadets reading this are having a great year in high school! Enjoy those days, the time definitely goes by fast, and you are going to make some great lifetime memories and friends. As always, if you are reading this and have any questions about ANYTHING, email me at and I’d love to answer your questions! Have a great Thanksgiving!


More about Luke.


Fun in the Shadows

(Academics, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Chavarria-Aguilar Photo In most cases, the concept of going to summer school is viewed in a negative connotation. A lot of people think that if you go to summer school it is because you failed a class and need to catch up. However, this is not always the case. I went to summer school because I chose to do so. Yup, your heard me, I sacrificed six weeks of my summer experience in the fleet to stay at the Academy and study Calculus! Heaven forbid! Who would ever do such a thing, right? Well, I’ll admit that I had my doubts about whether or not the decision was really worth it. In the end, everything managed to work out just they way it was meant to be and I learned that sacrificing one thing for another has the potential to create a truly unforgettable experience.


In one of my previous blog entries I explained how I ended up in summer school. So now I’d like to tell you a tale of what Academy life is like during the summer, sans squaring.


You see, the third class cadets that go to summer school exist only in the shadows, behind the scenes so to speak. We were told that we do not exist to swabs, and that the color red (that of our shields) should never be seen by little swabbie eyes. So this made for an interesting time. I’ll have to admit, there’s something quite unique about witnessing R-Day from the outside. I got a bit nostalgic while watching the new swabs run around all frightened and awkward like. Ah, the good old days…


On another note, I only had to take two classes, Calculus I and Leadership and Organizational Behavior. This was nice because I had a lot of free time to get help. The instructors stayed on base most of the day, so getting homework done was a cinch. I spent my free time with my two best friends, Virginia Stoddard and Maria van Scoyoc, which made the experience that much more worthwhile. One time, we were laughing so hard that an officer had to walk all the way down from the other end of the hall to tell us to keep it down. We didn’t for long. I had a lot of fun during summer school, and although some of the assignments were difficult, I managed to end up with solid grades.


Have no fear. If you ever find yourself headed toward summer school, keep your chin up. You never know what kind of fun could be coming your way.


More about Alexis.


The 'Other Side of the Fence' Part II

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Chavarria-Aguilar Photo During my 3/c summer assignment at USCG Station Port Canaveral, I assisted in the first Search and Rescue mission (SAR) of my Coast Guard career. On May 12, 2012, after a long day of volunteering at a Palm Bay Veteran’s function, I was pretty beat and had put my feet up to watch a movie. Before I could hit the play button, the SAR alarm sounded, and I startled up from the couch. My heart raced as I listened to the announcement on the pipe: “male in cardiac arrest onboard Disney Fantasy


So I might have over exaggerated a bit when I kicked the door open and sprinted to the watch office, but it was really hard to bottle the sudden rush of adrenaline. I slipped in quietly with the rest of the crew as the two watch-standers, an enlisted personnel and 3/c Leigha Steinbeck, communicated on the radio with the ship’s captain. I crossed my fingers, hoping for the opportunity to help, and waited for further instructions. Moments passed before the NCOOD pointed a finger at me and told me to grab a PFD (‘lifejacket’ for y’all landlubbers).


The sun was beginning to set as I jogged to the locker and grabbed my PFD, along with four extras for the victim’s family. We were told that we would possibly be bringing his children. This was concerning because we did not want them to get seasick in the survival compartment on the 45’ patrol boat. Within about ten minutes of the initial alarm, we were on the water, making our way through the port toward the ocean. Fortunately, the cruise ship, which was roughly 13 miles out, had turned around and was making its way toward us. At one point we were put on standby as it was debated whether we should send a helicopter instead. The decision was eventually turned down and we continued on.


Once we were clear of the no-wake zone our coxswain hit the gas and we barreled into the open sea, lights-a-flashing. We bounced over four to six foot swells, catching some wicked air, racing toward the Fantasy. Meanwhile, the ship’s captain maintained communications, giving us frequent updates of the victim’s condition. I stared in awe at the colossal structure that steered toward us, as if it were going to mow over us without hesitation. I felt like an ant next to a boot. We took a wide turn and pulled alongside the Fantasy’s port side. Forward of us, toward the bow, a hatch opened in the ship’s hull right next to the waterline.


The 'Other Side of the Fence' Part II (Continued) PDF Icon 


More about Alexis.


Skipping Uphill

(Just for Fun, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Sherman Photo Have you ever tried to skip up a particularly steep hill? It’s hard. You move forward (which requires quite of a push), but the whole time you move, you feel the tug of gravity pulling you back down the slope. Now, skipping downhill, on the other hand, is easy and exhilarating! I’ve done both of these recently during my long runs this month.


I really enjoy running. I don’t do it competitively (I don’t think I’m really that fast—good enough to be competitive, that is). Yes, I run for exercise, but I more do it for my mental well-being. It’s been great. The autumn is an amazing time for running. The weather is cool and comfortable. The sun is bright, the sky a vibrant blue, and of course, the trees display their glorious colors. We’re allowed to go on runs off campus at any time (well, whenever there’s daylight), so when I want to go for a run, I usually go off-base so that I can be surrounded by the beautiful colors of fall—and running through residential areas or along long highways is more exciting.


I generally tell people that I go for runs to think. That implies (at least to me) that when I run, I am actively thinking about something. That’s really not the case. It’s more that when I run, I don’t have to think about one thing. I get away from the Academy and just let my thoughts settle out. There is so much activity going on at school and in Chase hall (the dorms/barracks) and when I am at the Academy, my mind is whirling—planning upcoming days, wrestling with homework questions, reflecting on lessons. It never stops. But, when I run, I can leave that all behind at the Academy. I just run and whatever floats to the top of my mind is what I think about. Most of the time it ends up being just thoughts about the landscape and “humanscape” around me (“Watch out for that car before crossing the street.”). Occasionally, a song or part of a song pops into my head and just rolls around over and over again. Even more infrequently, I’ll be struck with a brilliant idea, but when I think about it (see, there I go thinking again), nothing very concrete comes out of my run “think times.” But I think (again with the thinking) that’s a good thing.


This past month has been busy. I’ve been here, there, and everywhere. I have group projects in practically every class, so I’ve been meeting with two, three, four other cadets to work on them. I’m hardly in my room anymore. I, along with other cadets, am confronting the loss of friends as cadets are asked to leave for poor grades or conduct offenses. It is a very dynamic time at the Academy. Amongst all the changes, as one of the Sustainability Club leaders, I am trying to encourage change of my own. For example, the SusClub is working hard to overcome challenges in instituting a recycling training program for cadets in addition to continuing our primary responsibility of providing cadets with opportunities to participate in sustainable activities and to learn more about how to be sustainable here and outside of the Academy. It often becomes frustrating because progress is slow and difficult to attain. I’m passionate about the things with which I am involved here, and when I don’t see (immediate) success, it can be discouraging. Yes, we are moving forward, but I am constantly aware of how easy it is to just slip back to doing nothing. It’s like skipping uphill.


But when you’re on a long run and you’re tired, you can’t just stop. If you do, you won’t make it to the end where you can truly rest. So, I’ll keep skipping until we reach the top of this proverbial hill (or mountain?) and begin the exciting skip down the other side.


More about Justin.