As a fourth class, I have a relatively short list of experiences that I could consider as my most memorable moments at the Academy. However, I have had been lucky to have had many memorable experiences. If you want to have a good time at the Academy, you have to be willing to get involved in Academy clubs, sports, and service. Getting time away from the day to day grind and finding an outlet is crucial to surviving at the Academy, without a doubt.
One of my most memorable experiences here came from my participation on the rugby team. This past fall, we had an unbelievable season. Our first team AND second team went undefeated, and we won two playoff games to become the Northeast Division II rugby champions. Our championship game was a nail biter. There were two minutes left in the game. We were up by two points and Norwich (our opponent) had the ball deep in our territory. After a two minute all-out fight to the finish, the final whistle blew, and we were champions! It was a truly memorable experience for me because my old high school coach had come to see the game, my aunt and immediate family were all there, and most importantly, I was able to celebrate with all my teammates.
Another special moment from the fall semester was the Winter Formal. The theme of the night was remembering the POWs and their families. I was moved by the ceremony and felt a very special connection to our service members still missing. The rest of the night was awesome, too. I had tons of fun dancing, talking, and hanging out with my classmates. I felt a stronger connection with my classmates, and it was one of the first times I felt totally relaxed at the Academy.
From a community service perspective, one of my most memorable service projects was an all-day youth leadership event held here at the Academy. The event was for students from eighth to tenth grade, and they participated in a variety of leadership events throughout the day. For the first half of the day, the kids built bridges, catapults, and egg drop baskets out of arts and crafts materials. It was a good exercise in teamwork and cooperating on a design. I had a good time watching and guiding them along the way, and I was proud how well some of their projects turned out. After the builds, we took the kids over to lunch in the wardroom, and on a tour of the Academy. For the second half of the day, the kids discussed various leadership scenarios and participated in a team building objective. It was fun and interesting to watch young kids get their first taste of leadership. Overall, it was an awesome day and I loved working with the kids.
Finally, my most memorable experience at the Academy was my one week on Eagle at the end of Swab Summer. I was the last phase of the summer, so Swab Summer was over for me and I was able to relax and enjoy my time on board. The first day, I had duty. We were tied up in Newport, Rhode Island, and I stood on the deck for a few hours talking to people who were touring for the day. I had a good time interacting with all different types of people and it was a great experience. Our second day on board, I was free to go out on liberty in Newport. That was the first time I had liberty and it was awesome. I walked all over town, buying food and supplies, watching movies, hanging out with friends, and even going to the beach. While underway, I continued to have a good time. Even though it can be miserable standing watch from 1200 to 0400, or 0400 to 0800, it’s all what you make of it. Luckily, I had an great division, so when we ended up with rough watch times, we told stories, played card games, and listened to music. Another part of Eagle that I loved was climbing the rigging to work on sails. Every opportunity I had, I climbed. My most memorable climb was when I climbed all the way up the top of the highest sails (about two hundred feet high) to watch a beautiful sunset in New York harbor. Eagle was an awesome experience, and I can’t put everything I experienced into words.
As you can see, your Academy experience is what YOU make it. No one is going to tell you to get involved, to branch out, and to try new things. However, I strongly recommend doing this. In my experience, I have taken on more clubs and activities at one time this semester than I have ever before, and I’m as happy as I have ever been. The Academy offers all the opportunity to have awesome experiences, but it is up to you to go pursue those activities.
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