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My Second Firstie Summer

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Daghir Photo I AM BACK! Although for certain reasons (don’t worry I didn’t get into trouble), I am going to be staying one extra semester at the Coast Guard Academy, this means that I am going to be that much more prepared for when I go into the fleet. I will be what they call a SUPER FIRSTIE. As always, this is a more positive spin on things than most people may initially perceive because I am definitely one of those “glass half-full” individuals, which is why I am so excited to be sharing with you an adventure that happens to be called my second firstie summer.

 

Part 1: The United States Coast Guard Cutter Juniper 

 

I started my summer a bit early. Because I knew I would be extending into next year, I got a head start on my summer and headed out to Newport, Rhode Island. There, on the naval base, in the farthest corner of an extremely large campus, two Coast Guard 225’s, and a 175’ (all buoy tenders) are moored up. I was sent to the Juniper while it was undergoing some hydraulics maintenance, and for that reason, we never actually got underway. I got to help the crew instead with preparations to participate in Fleet Week, and also to prepare for their scheduled testing of damage control drills and readiness assessments.

I briefly lived the buoy tender lifestyle and learned a lot, despite the fact that we never actually got underway. The crews are smaller, tight-knit, and very family-oriented. I really enjoyed my time on board and was happy to learn that a buoy tender schedule is often like a normal work week, out during the weekdays and in on the weekends (for the most part). I thought this was a pretty big plus to the platform, and made a mental note to remember that… JUST as I was transferring to a ship that was actually going to be getting underway that very weekend.

 

Part 2: The United States Coast Guard Cutter Forward 

 

Now near and dear to my heart, in hindsight and even while I was underway, I have to say I had an incredible experience on the 270’ out of Virginia. I flew down to Portsmouth from Rhode Island and got underway with the Forward that Monday morning. It was a fast transition, meeting the crew, learning names and jobs and remembering where everything was. I was lucky because I had been on a 270’ my first first class summer, so it was actually a comfort to be back in familiar territory. I was quick to break in as Quarter Master of the Watch, and after qualifying, I stood watch in the CIC or Combat Information Center, and got my qualification for watch standing in there. My real passion is in ship driving when underway, and so toward the end of the patrol when I was allowed to begin breaking in on the bridge. I had a lot of fun learning the rules of the road in the context of an Officer of the Deck (OOD) board, where the specifics matter. The crew was amazing and I had the best time on port calls, a particularly memorable moment being when I was pepper sprayed the day after my birthday on the pier in Boston. Most cadets get this done before going to Boarding Officer School where they leave qualified to be boarding officers as the name may suggest. I got to see many whales, both humpback and right whales, and I got to see our boarding team complete a ton of fishery boardings and then have to put together the reports when someone had violated the law. I departed the ship after a month of being underway and at that point, it was hard to leave. Being underway for a long time is hard, but it really brings you close to your shipmates. This being said, I left the Forward in Portland, Maine, ready for my next adventure.

 

Part 3: Sector Life 

 

Okay, so I got to switch gears a little bit. Well a lot a bit, for the second part of my summer. As a Marine and Environmental Sciences major, I took a class my junior year that taught me about geographic information systems (GIS). Basically, this is a powerful tool that can be used by anyone for anything. It is a map that you can put information into and analyze said information, combining it with other information that may, when used together, result in geographically savvy and efficient decision making. I use the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) software to create geographic response plans that would allow me to plan for an oil spill in a particular harbor or marine location. If an oil spill were to occur, responders could access my plan and see where the environmentally sensitive areas are, where the facilities that could endanger these areas are, and where they could deploy a boom from (a protection mechanism we use to keep oil away from the places it should stay away from). I took an assignment from District 1 to create these plans for both sector Long Island Sound and also Sector New York. I spent a week working on Long Island Sound, then two weeks on Sector New York (in which I challenged myself to go into the city EVERY night, which I did, and also happened to see Flava Flav in concert). My last day in New York, I was able to fly in the Nassau Police Department helicopter over my area of work, Jamaica Bay, and it was a very cool experience.

 

PAUSE

 

Part 4: San Diego 

 

I was extremely lucky because I was able to use my GIS experience at the sectors to fly out to the west coast. Don’t worry though, it was still for GIS! I attended the ESRI user’s conference with my academic advisor, and we were exposed to the wonders and uses of the application that I had been working with for my oil spill planning. People use GIS all over the world to solve spatial dilemmas such as refugee migration, hurricane planning and response, earthquake rescues, police networks…you name it! ESRI put on a show for the crowd of almost 20,000 people! They demonstrated improvements they had made and advancements in the GIS world. It was pretty cool and I saw so many ways to take my oil spill responses to the next level. Not only did I get to attend the conference, but my advisor taught me how to SURF in the mornings! We went five times, and I got to be able to stand up pretty easily by the end. I am now a BIG FAN. Lastly in San Diego, I was able to visit the Scripps Oceanographic Institute. My advisor is a Ph.D. student there and he gave me the full tour of many of the labs and buildings. He introduced me to famous professors and also his own Ph.D. peers. I have always been interested in going to graduate school and now I have a good idea of what I am looking for. California was an amazing experience. And then it was time to get back to work.

 

Part 5: Back to Work 

 

I flew back from Cali on the Fourth of July. It was cool to see the fireworks from a different perspective as I flew in over Providence, Rhode Island – they look a lot smaller. Now I am back at Sector Long Island Sound. I am working on my geographic response plans combining my New York and Long Island Sound methods to get the job done. While I was in California, I was asked to present my oil spill work in the fall at an oceans-specific conference, so I am now even more excited to put together this plan. I am helping out with a change of command ceremony this week and then next week I will be able to go out into the field and conduct analysis of the harbors I am planning for: New Haven Harbor and Bridgeport Harbor.

 

Working at sectors has been cool because I have never seen this angle of the Coast Guard before. They work hard in response and prevention; coordinate boat inspections, oil spill response, search and rescue, and port security; and a lot more, too. It is interesting because we actually work with a lot of different non- Coast Guard organizations to complete these missions, and depend on auxiliary Coast Guard members, the New York Navy Militia, local police departments, and park police to achieve everything that needs to be done, which is a lot more than I ever knew before I reported aboard. I have two weeks left of my summer before I can go on leave. It has been a very busy summer and I am honestly very excited to be back at school and not move for a while. I will be graduating in December and am incredibly excited to be in the Coast Guard!!! All of my now-officer classmates have had their 30 days of leave and have now settled into the rigors of junior officer life, all over the country.

 

Sorry for the lengthy blog!
-Lucy
Lucy.M.Daghir@uscga.edu 

 

More about Lucy.

 

The Approaching Curve

(Academics, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Chang Photo I’m driving a car and flooring it as the little red ticker twitches on the far right of the speedometer. I see empty highway in front of me until the road takes a sharp twist to the left and the silver railings on the side glare their warning. My manic grin is reflected in the side mirror and…

 

No, I didn’t really do that. In fact, being from New York City, I don’t even have a driver’s license. But that’s what the last few days of this semester feels like. There is one day of class left and a week of finals until 100th week, where Cape May Company Commanders will unleash their wrath upon us. Soon after, as cadre, we’ll unveil our own leadership techniques upon the incoming swabs. Everything in between that, however, is a summer packed with everything from sailing to shooting ranges. And, while there is always something to look forward to at the Academy, it’s just as important to have a plan leading up to those upcoming events. Study plans are especially important. For example, here’s my finals week study plan:

  • Silently stare out the window for a few minutes until mustering up the energy to open textbooks
  • Consider checking Facebook and shake off the thought, knowing that it’s way more important to focus on studying
  • 10-minute full-body stretch to prepare for hours at desk
  • Actually read a few paragraphs and chuckle ominously, knowing that it’s going to be a long night
  • Repeat cycle until you’ve compressed your textbook into a ten-page outline
  • Look over it a few times
  • Feel proud and have a snack, you’ve earned it
  • Go to bed
  • Wake up the next morning (or in the next few hours) for reveille and repeat the process

        *Note: This study plan does not reflect the CGA academic standards. I am just procrastinating.

 

Feel free to use it if you wish. No guarantees that you’ll have a 4.0 GPA, but you’ll be fine for finals! Good luck to all taking finals, SATs, and those preparing for the upcoming summer!

 

More about Olivia.

 

Class of 2017 Ring Dance

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Mills Photo Ring Dance is a very momentous milestone in a cadet career. We finally have a physical connection to the Long Blue Line and to all those who have walked through the halls of Chase and across that graduation stage. The night was full of good food and lots of dancing, which made me very happy. I got a miniature rose gold band with an amethyst for my stone. Amethyst is my birthstone so it makes the ring that much more personal. The Class of 2017 cannot stop gawking at one another’s rings and I think it is just because we are in total shock that we have made it so far in our Academy careers already. Time has surely flown. My friend was also kind enough to remind me that the next huge landmark in our path is Billet Night. That was crazy to think about, and I cannot tell you for sure where I plan on spend the first two years of my career but hopefully this last summer as a cadet will inspire me to come up with an answer.

 

This summer, I will be on commercial vessels for five weeks, getting a look into the merchant mariner world and the people we serve. For the last six weeks of my training, I will be going to Sitka, Alaska for an internship. I am aware of how challenging internships are to get, in both civilian college and here, so I am super grateful that the Academy has given me this opportunity. Being able to use the science knowledge I have learned over the past two years in a real life study at the Sitka Sound Science Center will be amazing.

 

As always thanks for reading and please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions!

 

More about Sydney.

 

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.

 

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.