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cadet blogs

The Roller Coaster Ride of a Cadet

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Just for Fun, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Corcoran Photo Life is like a roller coaster here at the Coast Guard Academy, filled with many ups, downs, lulls, and just when you think that the ride is about to end, you quickly get twisted into another direction. Lately, I have felt that my workload has taken me into a million different directions, forcing me to try to become more efficient so that I can effectively manage my academics, sports, military life and social life, all while trying to get enough sleep. I can’t lie and say that I haven’t been struggling to find a balance lately, but I think that I’m finally starting to catch up with everything.

 

Spring break was a definite help to everyone’s sanity here. The weeks before spring break are nicknamed “The Dark Ages.” This is because it is dark most of the time we’re awake, people are being overloaded with academic work, and on top of all of that, it’s the heart of winter. Not to mention, we have had an exceptionally long winter this year so I think everyone was ready to head out on spring break and escape into a warm, sun-filled abyss for a week. I was lucky enough to travel to Miami, Florida with two of my friends from school and we even took a little mini-cruise to the island of Bimini, Bahamas for three days. I definitely got a lot tanner during our break and was ready to hit the ground running when we came back to school.

 

Unfortunately for everyone at the Academy, spring break did not start out on the highest note. We were notified that two of our shipmates from the Republic of Georgia were involved in a car accident and taken from us in the beginning of our allotted leave. It was sad for everyone to hear of the passing of two amazing men, but we all knew we had to come together to get through the tragedy. Little by little, cadets started changing their profile pictures to Georgian flags on Facebook and soon enough I would say about half of all of my Facebook friends had Georgian flags as their profile pictures. It was amazing to see how quickly everyone came together for these two gentlemen. We all had the opportunity to participate in a remembrance ceremony for the two fallen cadets on the Wednesday after we came back to school and I must say it was the most beautiful ceremony I have ever been to. After the ceremony, I realized how proud I am to say that I go to the Coast Guard Academy and that I am a member of the long blue line, the United States Coast Guard. It is truly amazing how special our small service is.

 

Not to end on a somber note, but if you end up attending the United States Coast Guard Academy, you will soon realize how close-knit everyone is. It may drive you nuts at times because you live in the same building as 900 other people and the same 900 other people are the people you play sports with, eat with, learn with, grow with, and pretty much do EVERYTHING with. However, these are the people who will have your back through everything and be there for you during both tough and happy times. I will forever cherish everyone I have met at the Coast Guard Academy and in the operational Coast Guard because they are all extremely special to me.

 

More about Samantha.

 

For the Parents of Prospective Cadets

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo I know this is blog is primarily intended for prospective cadets. That being said, I’m going to take the road less traveled and address a different demographic with this entry. Many of you readers have received or will be receiving appointments to the Academy, and for that I congratulate you. And I ask you now to call your parents over, who may have mixed reactions to this occurrence in your life, and ask them to give up a couple minutes of their time for this entry.

 

Why hello, parents, it’s very nice to meet you! Your child just got his or her appointment, and from what I’ve heard from my own classmates, either you’re thrilled or very worried. Regardless of which category you belong to, I have some advice for you. I got it from watching my own parents, and how they’ve walked with me from day one of my Coast Guard career, starting with when I originally considered applying.

 

You want the best for your child and so you might very well want to offer your insight into their college choices. When you do this, remember to consider whatever you believe will make your daughter or son happiest – not just now, but in the future. Not just what you think is best, but what you see as being best for them. My parents both attended the Air Force Academy, and I actually had appointments to both there and the Coast Guard. I often get asked if they ever pushed me into accepting my USAFA appointment. I am very fortunate to be able to say “no.” This is because my parents knew a very important truth about attending a service academy – to survive at one, to thrive, you must absolutely want to be there. My parents knew me well enough to know that the Air Force was a great place, and was their dream, but not the place that would ultimately make me happy. If there was any pressure, it was toward the Coast Guard because they understood that the missions of this force aligned best with my desires and aspirations. I know they would have leapt for joy had I become a Zoomie, but they did something I have always been thankful for – they encouraged me to take a path even they didn’t know much about, and become a Coastie. (They might be wondering what went wrong, considering I grew up ten minutes from an Air Force base, but God works in very strange ways.)

 

They supported my decision, and I could not be more grateful for that. Parents, your child has a huge decision in front of him or her. You’ll have your own thoughts on that decision, and they may or may not line up with what your child is thinking. Please, please, please, and please again – offer your positive support wherever he or she winds up going. You have no idea just yet how much of a difference it makes to know that, even when the cadre are in your face or the homework is piled on the desk, there are people at home who are proud of you and invested in your success. It’s a difficult school, and every cadet here has bad days and wants that encouragement. Help your child stick with the challenges of the Academy – and then you’ll get that idea I just mentioned. And I’ll bet you’ll find it feels awesome.

 

More about Abby.

 

Regular College is Overrated

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Kimura Photo Every Veteran’s Day, cadets at the Academy have the opportunity to march in the Veteran’s Day Parade held in New York City. Luckily for me, I snagged a spot to be one of about a hundred cadets representing the Coast Guard Academy to honor America’s veterans. Although the occasion was an escape from the rigor of Chase Hall with extra liberty to enjoy the city, the parade also illustrated the reverence of the servicemen and women who have already served and sacrificed for our country.

 

A captain giving a pre-parade talk to the Coast Guard group, consisting of cadets, officers, enlisted and auxiliary, summed up the purpose of the cadets perfectly. The great majority of cadets never served prior to attending the Academy, and had only experienced military life through the Academy, making us seem very miniscule in comparison to the officers and enlisted with years of duty. Although with the little experience we had, the captain emphasized the importance that we represent the future of our Coast Guard following in the footsteps of those before us.

 

This had a large impact on me because sometimes I wonder what have I done, I only go to school? But there is a larger reason that the captain highlighted; we chose to be here, and commit to stay here to eventually graduate and be commissioned as Coast Guard officers. That decision ultimately makes us stand out from other college students because we have a larger purpose than just attending college.

 

More about Amy.

 

The Academy Summer Experience

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Seaman Photo One of the main things that attracted me to the Academy was the summer experiences cadets have. Unlike most other colleges, the Coast Guard Academy allows cadets to work in the operational Coast Guard by sending them to cutters, small boat stations, and air stations depending on which class you are. For the first part of this summer, I worked at a small boat station in Fort Lauderdale for five weeks. This experience was extremely rewarding and it served as a great transition from 4/c to 3/c year. Station Fort Lauderdale opened my eyes to a part of the Coast Guard that I had not been exposed to yet. I learned about the station’s responsibilities and daily routines and was able to contribute by earning qualifications. Along with achieving a communications qualification and making ground in becoming a boat crew member, my classmates who were with me and I were exposed to even more experiences the Coast Guard has to offer. We shot pistol, learned defense tactics, and even got getting pepper sprayed out of the way. These involvements taught me a lot about ways I can improve because it is impossible to be perfect one hundred percent of the time. It also boosted my confidence by giving me valuable interactions with Coast Guard members.

 

Since the main goal of this summer is to learn the junior enlisted member’s role in the Coast Guard, I spent time getting to know the crew members and engaging in the work they do on a daily basis. I observed that their role in carrying out the mission is huge, thus teaching me to value and respect the hard work of everyone. This summer was informative and a blast. I am grateful for the experience I gained and the preparation it gave me in becoming a 3/c cadet.

 

More about Rachel.

 

Always on Your Toes

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Auzenbergs Photo I have caught myself calling Chase Hall “home” more and more often now. It worried me at first, until I realized that it just means that I’m actually getting into the hang of things here, and this doesn’t just feel like some extended AIM week anymore! It’s been hard for me to realize that this is my life for the next four years. Monday and Friday morning drill practice, early morning military trainings before class, the long school days, and busy nights of homework just seem like a test that I have to pass to get back home. (In this case, home being my high school in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts). But that is not the case! This is home now, and it’s becoming more evident every week. I find myself stressing with my roommate about things that I know my friends at UMASS will never encounter, like if we buffed our floor enough, if our beds are wrinkled when we wake up in the morning, or if our blinds are secured before we leave the room. Then we laugh hysterically when we’re walking down the ladder wells in Chase and we see another 4/c do a spin move in the corner instead of squaring, risking demerits just for the fun of it, or when we see someone wait an extra 30 seconds in their doorway before exiting for an upper class to walk by, just to avoid having to greet them in the hallway. Now if I came back from a soccer game at a civilian college, I wouldn’t have to think twice about the transition from laughing and joking with the team outside the dorm, to opening the door, squaring the corner, and locking my eyes in the boat. The little things that make the Academy unique and fun are starting to become more evident and unite us even more.

 

However, life can’t get too comfortable here at the Academy! Teachers start planning for midterms which are quickly approaching, Cadet Evaluation Reports (CERs) are due, the first military testing period opens up, and to add onto it all, I tore my ACL and meniscus during a soccer game. Now there is another stressor to deal with that seems like it will be much harder to get used to. Luckily, the support here is better than anywhere else I can imagine. My roommate has been more than helpful, my shipmates are even more supportive than they already were, and my teachers are very understanding about arriving a few minutes late to class due to the painstakingly slow speed of crutching, or with making up missed work because of doctor’s appointments, surgery and PT visits. (But sadly it doesn’t make it easier to get from Satterlee to Smith in a reasonable time!) So, now this month and a few weeks beyond will be spent trying to adjust to another challenge that I will hopefully adapt to just as quickly as the others – the Academy on crutches.

 

More about Gabrielle.