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cadet blogs

1/c Summer on the Horizon

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Glick Photo This week has been madness! I’ve been swamped with finishing up term papers, group projects, routing planning memos for Swab Summer, studying for finals, and attending end-of-year club dinners.

 

My classmates and I just received our class rings this past Saturday! We had a great time dressing up in our dinner dress white tuxedos, donning our class rings, and spending the night off-base afterwards. It was a great event and definitely a milestone for the Class of 2017. Looking at our class rings, it is clear that we are almost seniors. Time has flown, but at the same time, it feels like it has been a lifetime. With the Class of 2020 receiving their appointments, it means that the Class of 2016 will soon be shipping out to the fleet. Crazy to think that soon my classmates and I will be the oldest folks here at the CGA.

 

I am excited to leave for Alaska on a 110-foot patrol boat in two weeks! After finals, I have to pack out my room and move all of my stuff to Regimental Row for the second half of the summer (which should be a monumental task with many trips)! Less than a day after that, I’m leaving for Alaska. I’ve already started my qualification for Quartermaster of the Watch with my Nautical Science instructor, and hopefully this summer will be a good opportunity to shadow junior officers and see what it’s all about. My next blog in May will probably be from the icebox!

 

More about William.

 

A Whirlwind Semester and Much to Look Forward To

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Kimura Photo “Flying by” is an understatement when it comes to describing this semester. Diving season ended, spring break in Machu Picchu happened, and now there is only one week left of classes. The end of the school year means 4/c passing boards, earning carry-on (no longer having to brace up in Chase Hall), and using social media again; 2/c bringing back their newly bought cars; and firsties making plans for their new homes, weddings, and 30 days of leave. For myself as a 3/c, this past weekend made me truly appreciate everything I have to look forward to in the next two years.

 

I attended Class of 2017’s Ring Dance, which is a ceremony that recognizes the 2/c approaching their final year of the Academy with personalized class rings. Just looking at everyone’s rings made me excited for when I get the chance to pick out one for myself. The most astounding part to me about the rings was the amount of money people spent on them. The reason behind the hefty amounts paid was not that people had money to spend carelessly. Instead, the splurging was justified by the sacrifice they have personally put into the Academy; those late nights cramming, exploring foreign port calls, running a PFE the day after every break, hanging over the side of Eagle feeling seasick, cleaning until midnight. They made the investment in the rings because of the strong impact of their Academy experience and the bonds they made with the people around them. I’m sure if I asked any of them if they would pay $1,000, $2,000 or even $3,000 on a ring in high school they would laugh at the thought. But, something changes in three years that makes cadets take enough pride to want to spend that sum on a place they had no experience with three years before.

 

More about Amy.

 

The End is Close!

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Dow Photo Wow! It’s been a while; you get so caught up in everything here and then it’s April. Between softball, school and other extracurriculars and duties, I didn’t even realize it has been so long since I last posted. But in reality, the days may be slow here, but the weeks are going fast. Only a few more weeks until finals and then second class summer! Although the school years sometimes feel long and very difficult, the summers make it all worth it. Being here at the academy has opened many doors, and more opportunities than I could have ever imagined going to college.

 

During finals week, we can only have at most two finals in a day, and it runs for five days. Some finals you are able to validate if you exceed a certain grade in the class, but it is very difficult and not many do. The summers are definitely a highlight of the Academy experience because you get to go out and explore the real fleet, and meet people you might one day work for, or with. The Coast Guard gives you so many great opportunities to see the world, and all you need to do is put in a lot of hard work.

 

As a rising second class, the week after finals is 100th week when we prepare for cadre summer. The Cape May Company Commanders (who are cadre for a living) come and train us. During this week and the actual three weeks of being a cadre, we also get to sail on the Academy’s yachts to practice navigating, plan the trip and lead our peers. We qualify for pistol; take our Rules of the Road test; and explore what the aviation side of the fleet does with a week at an air station down south. This summer will be challenging, but will also bring us even closer as classmates.

 

Last summer, I was on a buoy tender out of Newport, Rhode Island. It was one of my favorite memories. The second part of my summer was on Eagle, where we sailed to Bermuda, Philadelphia, Portland and Boston. This was also super cool, because not many other people can say they sailed around the East Coast, (and because we got to go to cool places for “work”!)

 

Can’t wait for the summer to begin!

 

More about Emily.

 

Fastest Four Years I’ve Ever Experienced

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Just for Fun, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Corcoran Photo 0600: Wake up and splash some cold water on my face.
0620: Morning formation.
0625: Breakfast; try to make conversation with my division despite my exhaustion.
0645: Retreat back to my room; look at the calendar for my to-do list for the day.

 

…but wait, is that calendar correct? Is it really April 15th already? Where has the time gone?! There is still so much to do, but there is also so much to look forward to.

 

I honestly cannot believe there are now less than two weeks left of school and 33 days until the Class of 2016 graduates from this fine institution and will be heading out into the fleet. Seriously, I am in utter disbelief how fast the time has flown the past four years. However, I am also beyond ready to begin a new chapter of my life aboard the USCGC Hamilton, a national security cutter located in Charleston, South Carolina.

 

I am blessed to be heading to Charleston with one of my best friends, Jay Power. However, I cannot help but feel saddened that I will be separated from some of my other best friends. I truly believe that the Coast Guard Academy fosters deep friendships that will last a lifetime. I basically consider all of my best friends I have made here family. Don’t get me wrong, everyone here is a family. We have all been through so much together. From reporting in together as civilians who had no idea what they were doing, to surviving seven weeks of Swab Summer, getting through a strenuous work and passing boards 4/c year, creating and unveiling our class crest, sailing on the USCGC Barque Eagle, being introduced to the fleet, wearing our rec gear to numerous trips to Chili’s, Olive Garden and other liberty bus locations, making it through 100th week, indoctrinating the Class of 2018 as cadre, sailing around New England on $1 million yachts, getting civilian clothes privileges, starting to take command positions, going to Ring Dance and receiving our class rings, being introduced to the fleet as future junior officers, leading the corps through regimental reviews with our swords, attending Castle Dance at Rosecliff Mansion, dining in, enjoying billet night, and so many more memories, it’s hard not to become a family.

 

Looking back at my time here at the Academy, sure there are plenty of things I would do differently, but I would not want to go through it again with any other people. I am so thankful for everyone who has lent a helping hand to me, made me laugh, and showed me the way. I never thought that I would make it until the end of this extremely challenging, but rewarding, 200-week program, but somehow I did! (Knock on wood.)

 

I am so excited to continue learning out in the fleet and start my career, but of course I am also very nervous. However, I will continue to take life as it comes, one day at a time, and I am hoping I will have a long rewarding career – whether that be in the Coast Guard or civilian sector.

 

If there is one piece of advice I can give to those of you still in the Academy or about to join the best Corps of Cadets in the nation, it is to never take any experience you have here for granted. Sure, bracing up isn’t fun and no one wants to clean heads and passageways in their free time, but I urge you to make the best of every situation you’re put in. It’s amazing how much better your experiences will be if you look at the positive side of things and never take situations too seriously. Remember, whatever happens to you, the world keeps turning and time goes on. You will be okay and you will make it through the day.

 

More about Samantha.

 

Spring Has Sprung

(Academics, Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Hosley Photo Hello again everyone and happy springtime finally! Or so it seems because this New England weather can get pretty crazy… For us, at least, we know that time has come because we have finally transitioned to everyone’s favorite short sleeve uniform, tropical blues or “trops” as we call them. The beginning of trops season is a very busy time of year. The Class of 2016 is looking forward to graduation, 2019 and 2017 are ramping up for their summer assignments, and lastly, 2018, the best class of all, is training to be cadre this upcoming summer for the Class of 2020. It’s hard to believe that I will be a cadre in a few months when it feels like I was just a swab! I am waterfront cadre this summer, which means I will be teaching the incoming swabs how to sail; I couldn’t be more excited.

 

Additionally, I have been making a ton of progress on my directed study work with marine mammals for my marine science major. In fact, just yesterday a few other cadets and I, along with our academic advisor, drove out to Cape Cod to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute for training on how to acoustically identify whale calls that are picked up by a specialized buoy off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. With this new training under our belts, the three of us are working with one of the world’s foremost ocean acousticians, at one of the best oceanographic institutes in the world, to assess the presence of whales in the area; information we will provide to the Coast Guard, Navy, NOAA, and all merchant mariners. How cool is that?! The Coast Guard Academy has offered me some incredible opportunities to pursue my passion thus far and with summer right around the corner, I can’t wait to see what will come next!

 

More about Cece.

 

Academy Traditions

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Friedman PhotoOne thing that helps me get through my time at the Academy is the traditions we have here. There are many, and when I try to explain them to my friends, I usually tell them if they want to know they have to call me. Trying to explain it in a text message just isn’t going to work, but I’ll try to put some into words for this blog.

 

Hiding the Chain – On campus, there are massive links to a chain that was originally drawn across the Hudson River during the Revolutionary War, and this chain isn’t a little necklace; it was used to sink ships. During Homecoming Week, it’s a tradition that the 4/c hide the chain 24 hours before the Homecoming game and the 2/c have to find it. If the 2/c doesn’t find it by the start of the game, the 4/c have to get the chain to the 50 yard line in order to earn a week of modified carry-on. I mentioned the weight earlier because I was one of the 4/c that got up at 2 a.m. to drag the chain across campus and hide it. It was a long night and even longer day the next morning but the memories are worth it. 

 

100th Day/101st Night – 100th Day is when 4/c and 2/c trade places, but in order to do this, 4/c must earn the shoulder boards of a 2/c they select. To earn shoulder boards the week leading up to 101st night is filled with spirit mission where people’s rooms end up covered in toilet paper, in the shark tank, and sometimes people’s uniforms go missing or get swapped out with something else. This leads up to 101st night where the 4/c go back to being swabs and the 2/c go back to being cadre for a few hours. Once this is over 2/c and 4/c trade shoulder boards and 4/c get to carry on for a day.

 

Class Crest – Every class at the Academy designs a crest. This crest represents your class, it’s on your class rings, class shirts, and hung on the walls of Leamy Ballroom alongside the other classes that have gone before you. The class crest is revealed at 4/c formal which recently happened for the Class of 2019. Our crest now joins the long blue line of those classes before us.

 

If you have any questions feel free to email me at Jill.M.Friedman@uscga.edu.

 

More about Jill.

 

Two Spring Breaks for the Price of One

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Just for Fun, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo I had a bit of an odd spring break this year. I departed a day early to perform in Georgia and Alabama with the Glee Club, spent the rest of the week with my grandparents who live outside of Atlanta, and flew back the day prior to leave expiring. So all of that was pretty standard… what made it odd was that after I unpacked from my trip down south, I simply repacked for another one! The next morning, I flew out to Rome, Italy with three other cadets, one of the humanities instructors, and her husband to compete in the week-long Harvard World Model United Nations competition. Guess who got two spring breaks for the price of one?

 

The Model United Nations team is one of the fastest-growing clubs at school. This time last year, it was a ragtag group of individuals piling onto a train going to New York City… now, we’ve become well-established enough to ship cadets overseas to compete. This particular conference is easily one of the most remarkable events of which I’ve been a part in my life. I worked with one of my classmates in a group simulating the United Nations’ Disarmament and International Security committee. We represented the interests of South Sudan in conversations about Violent Non-State Actors, and collaborated with about 400 other students from all across the globe to formulate mock laws facing that issue. The people who participated alongside us were from Germany, France, England, Iran, Australia, Syria, Venezuela, Russia, Italy, and countless other countries. Considering that cadets aren’t even allowed to leave the base most days of the week, you can imagine what an enriching experience it was to learn about so many different places from the people who know them best! It was such an excellent place in which to learn about international politics and relations. Seeing as how there is not as much room in the science major for such study, I appreciated the practical lesson in applying and acquiring current events knowledge!

 

And the conference wasn’t even the end of the fun… each night, my classmates and I were able to go out and explore every corner of Rome. I won’t bore you with the extensive list of the sights we saw, but I will mention that Harvard arranged for us to hear a speech by the Pope (yes, he spoke in Italian, so I had no idea what he was saying… but it was still him, so that’s cool), the Colosseum is indeed humongous, the piazzas are pretty and plentiful, gelato is amazing, and the best part was meeting up with one of my best friends from high school! Yes, I saw my friend from quiet little Nebraska in Europe, of all places! No better person with which to watch the sun set over Rome from a beautifully sculpted terrace in the middle of the city!

 

It’s easy to look at the Academy and think only of all the restrictions and sacrifices you have to make to be a cadet here. No daily liberty, no deciding on my own clothes, lots of time spent on homework… And yet, because I chose to give up those little freedoms, I’ve been rewarded with the most fantastic of opportunities and chances to see so much more of the world than I ever would have at a different school. Rome was incredible, the people at the conference taught me so much, and I made a once-in-a-lifetime memory with a close friend. So I suppose in a sense, by making your world a little bit smaller, you expand it beyond anything you could expect… isn’t that funny?

 

More about Abby.

 

Running Through Freshman Year

 Permanent link
Kearney Photo My hands were numb as I stood staring off at the edges of the Atlantic on a cold New England beach; the wind whipped right through my jacket on that cloudy day. I had just gone out for a run, and found myself looking down at my feet where lay three roses, evenly spaced, placed at the edge of the tide for some unknown reason. For me, they represented my past, present, and future. I looked up and saw off in the distance the orange of a Coast Guard response boat cutting across the horizon. There ahead of me was the future, of the people I would be working with, of the mission I would soon be accomplishing. Watching as the boat whisked out of view, I slowly took a step back, turned, and started running the six miles back to the Academy.

 

Freshman year has been quite the workout – physically, mentally, and emotionally. It seems like yesterday when I made the decision to come here. I mean, it was only just a year ago. I wrapped up the end of my high school career, enjoyed my last few weeks with friends and family, and said goodbye to the first chapters of my life. But that’s in the past now.

 

Nearing the end of the first year here, I look back at what I have done. Academics here are the hardest I have ever faced. Your time is limited. First semester, I had many nights where I was up until 2 a.m. finishing homework. Perhaps many students do that at a civilian college, but when you have to get up at 6 a.m. and dress into a uniform, the daily struggle to climb out of bed is real. Regardless, I have made some of the greatest friends I have ever had here, which makes life so much better when you face challenges together. I’ve been able to compete at Boston University and at The Armory in New York City for track, and I have heard some wonderful speakers who have come to the Academy ranging from the Secretary of Homeland Security to Harvard graduates and admirals alike.

 

Now at present day, freshman rules will soon no longer apply to the Class of 2019. No more squaring meals, no more squaring corners, and we’ll get social media back. The summer will be here and if everything goes as planned, I’ll be off to Hawaii and then Europe. For vacation you ask? No, I’ll be there for sailing, training, and learning experiences. Tuition free education and some pretty awesome places to travel for work are not a bad way to top off my first year of college, my first year as a cadet, and my first year of the future.

 

More about Alex.

 

The Journey of Boards

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Sharp Photo Biggest news to date: I passed boards during the week of February 17th! Now, if you understand what this statement means, then feel free to stop reading here. For those that do not understand, let us venture on a little journey together.

 

It all started on R-Day; the day my life changed forever. My shipmates of the Class of 2019 reported to the Academy on June 29, 2015 and immediately got screamed at. We ran around sweating for a few hours, saw our parents for five minutes, and then returned to the grind for the rest of the summer. (Side note: I never fully understood why they let us see our parents after a few hours of running around on that first date. It’s like dangling a piece of bacon in front of a newly “discovered” vegetarian. The only plausible reason it would serve is to weed out the people who want to go home right then and there… but still.) Anyway, one of the best parts of R-Day, and even Swab Summer as a whole, is a little something the cadre call “indoc.” Sounds fun, right? WRONG. For the life of me, I cannot do indoc. What the heck is this demon, you ask? Well, my friends, it is short for “indoctrination,” which is a big, fancy word for random facts about the Coast Guard that some higher-up person thought we should all know. Some of these things are downright insane – like the 250-word response that is proper to answer the question “what time is it?” or the one that talks about a “cow…” Needless to say, I found no point in learning indoc. I would literally rather push deck (do push-ups) for hours on end instead of knowing the length, beam, draft, and displacement of Healy.

 

This mentality worked over Swab Summer because we pushed deck all the time anyway. But, then the school year rolled around, midterms came, the second semester started, and there I was. Little 4/c Sharp in complete denial of all things indoc. Still. It hit me the day before my first board that this was, like, an actual thing. You see, in order to advance a rank (to go from 4/c to 3/c) everyone must pass boards. When our whole class passes boards, we can get social media back, so the stakes are fairly high. I really did not want to be the last one in my class to pass because I hate holding back my shipmates. But, there was only so much indoc I could cram into my head within a 24-hour period. So I studied. Hard. And, with the help of a few people, I somehow managed to get a 6/10. You need at least an 8, however. After that first board, I accepted the fact that I would probably pass last in my class. But I was not about to give up.

 

The Journey of Boards (Continued) PDF 


More about Kirsten.

 

Motivation to Excel

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Eshleman Photo The first week of March was the busiest week I have had at the Academy thus far. With midterm exams, papers, lab reports, lacrosse, and military trainings, it seemed as though there wasn’t enough time in the day to breathe. The whole corps was scrambling to get everything done before spring break. Luckily, we all finished what we needed to finish and could go our separate ways for leave. The lacrosse team headed out to Colorado Springs for a training trip. We played two games against Colorado College and Messiah College. Besides practices and games, we got to explore the area. We went to the Garden of the Gods, the Olympic Training Center, and a hike at 0530 to see the sun rise over the mountains. Overall, it was a great trip where I feel our team really got to know one another and who we all are outside of the Academy gates. To be able to focus on just lacrosse was a blessing.

 

It is definitely challenging balancing all duties at the CGA, and these breaks always seem to come at the most needed times. Coming back to the Academy, I feel refreshed and ready to take on the end of 3/c year. This year has been fantastic, but it has definitely challenged me. I am looking within myself to find the motivation to do my best over this month and a half left until summer to keep my grades up to par and balance athletics, clubs, military obligations, friends, school, and sleep. For this summer, I just found out I am going to be cadre for AIM 2, getting to train high school candidates. I attended a similar program at the USNA as an upcoming senior in high school, and it had a huge impact on my decision to go to an academy. I am thrilled for the opportunity to influence potential future officers in a positive way and help them make their college decision.

 

More about Hannah.