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CADET BLOGS

cadet blogs

Looking Forward, Living in the Moment

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Glick Photo Well, it’s 238 days until graduation! I can’t believe how fast time is flying by this semester—it’s almost October. I am looking forward to the changing seasons, New England cider, sweater weather, and foliage here at the CGA.

 

This semester I am finally taking electives, including Managerial Psychology, Negotiations and Conflict Management, and Information Technology in Organizations. Soon, we will be receiving our capstone projects for the management major, which is another milestone toward graduation. Commissioning physical exams, final papers, capstone, it’s all coming together here, and before we know it, we will be ensigns! Having said that, it is still important to live in the moment and enjoy the rest of the Academy—this is the last time that our class will be together all at once.

 

Lately, I’ve been getting involved in my local church off-base, and I’ve really been enjoying it. I am participating in bible study on Monday nights, and meeting with the Navy Chaplain across the river that is the same denomination as me. I sure do miss Chaplain Dickens, but I’m still learning more about the Christian faith and United Methodist polity through my local church. I can definitely see myself becoming a part of the local United Methodist church regardless of where I go next year.

 

I’m also taking Advanced Golf for my physical education elective, and I golf a couple of times per week. Golf is a game that you can never master, but it is certainly great to be outside with friends enjoying the New England fall weather. If anything, it has taught me patience and persistence. It’s finally becoming real for me, graduating that is, and it is unbelievable that the shopping list, or list of ensign assignments, will be available in November. This is when the Class of 2017 puts down our choice assignments, and right now I’m thinking of a fast response cutter on the East Coast.

 

More about William.

 

Thank You CGA!

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Tousignant Photo Throughout middle school and high school I hated who I was. I tried so hard in academics and athletics to try to compensate for what I saw as both a grave sin and a major character flaw. I excelled in my classes and played three sports every year of high school. Going to Catholic school for most of my life, I developed a limited world view on issues such as gay rights. This view that was formed by my sheltered small town world imposed countless shame for what I was feeling sexually. I hid a big part of my life from my family and friends for years and years while at the same time trying to live as an honorable person. When I came to the Academy, my life started to change little by little. I became more comfortable with who I was as I was accepted into a group that prided themselves on openness and non-judgment. I was able to form a confident self-identity in which I embraced my feelings. I now love who I am. I would like to thank the fine institution in which I have learned to uphold the highest morals and values. Thank you to an institution that has transformed me from a self-loathing individual to a confident leader. I have learned that you cannot be an effective leader until you understand your abilities and limitations. I am a part of the Coast Guard, and the Coast Guard is a part of me, and I am ready for any challenges that may come my way for the rest of my time as a cadet and as a new officer!

 

More about Jackie.

 

Getting Qualified Aboard the USCGC Elm

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Tousignant Photo As a second semester 2/c cadet, I was nervous going into my 1/c summer because I was not sure whether I had the confidence to be a 1/c cadet and take the position as a division officer. I knew that once I became a 1/c, then graduation would be right around the corner. I had a great 2/c year and did not want to leave the Academy and go into the real world. My 1/c summer experience has abolished my recent fears and has given me the confidence to not only own my place among the corps but also look forward to becoming an ensign. I had heard that sometimes people that do well at the Academy will go out into the fleet and fail because the fleet is not based on academics or athletics. However, I learned that my work ethic is what I really need to become a good officer.

 

This past summer I had the wonderful opportunity to have an internship at Sector Key West and then went to the USCGC Elm, which is a buoy tender out of Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. At the sector I felt that I was truly a part of the division that I was in. We ate lunch together every day, and the officers that I was working with were trying to set me up for a successful second tour. The morale events always seemed to have a high turnout because the captain of the station and the master chief always made an effort to show up to them. This fostered a very positive command climate that I would have gladly worked for if I was in the fleet right now. When I initially went to the Elm, I was very nervous because I knew nothing about a buoy tender or boats in general for that matter. During my 3/c summer, I had gone to a small boat station so I had never been on a real cutter before. When I arrived on the Elm, I was unsure what my role would be. I just wanted to get as qualified as I could in six weeks.

 

The first couple weeks I was on Elm I barely left the ship because I wanted to get Inport Watchstander qualified and had to finish my 21 day packet, which included drawing the systems of the ship. I was able to finish the packet in eight days. For Inport Watchstander I did not pass my first board and had to take it again a couple days later. Even though I felt discouraged because I failed the first time, I knew my round of the ship very well and was confident going into the second oral board. I was able to get qualified within two and a half weeks and started standing the watch. I was so happy to finally start helping the crew out. My next mission was to get basic Damage Control (DC) qualified. Again I failed the first time and had to retake the test. Even though I was a little discouraged by my failures, I was able to keep pushing myself. I was standing a watch and breaking in as OOD. I was able to finish my OOD packet in five weeks. I was also able to get advanced DC qualified the last day on the ship, thanks to a very helpful and caring crew. During my time on Elm, I was given junior officer tasks that challenged me and made me feel stronger in competencies will need as an officer. Even though I wanted to get as qualified as I could, I also wanted to help the crew out in any way whether it was assisting with organization manuals or binders or standing watch. As an officer, I always want to ensure I am taking the time to make certain my people are excelling.

 

More about Jackie.

 

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.

 

Five Flights Later…

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo Time flies when you’re having fun, and in my case, there actually was flying involved! My classmates and I just finished first phase of our last year of summer training, during which I was at Air Station Clearwater, Florida. First class summer is special because out of the four, you get the most influence in crafting a summer schedule that is pertinent to your career goals and interests. For me, that means I had the air station assignment, as I am putting in for flight school in the fall, and am now in New Hampshire for an academic internship with the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. You’ll hear more about the latter as I get further into the assignment; but for now, let me tell you all about playing on helicopters for five weeks! (I mean, calmly observing from a safe distance. They knew better than to let me get too close to expensive equipment.) I got to ride along on two C-130 flights and three H-60 flights, and got qualified to stand the Operations Duty Officer (ODO) watch. The helicopters were a blast; nothing beats flying with the door open and seeing the world beneath you. But then again, getting time actually flying the C-130 was incredible… there are definitely positives to both fixed-wing and rotary! The ODO watch involved me receiving calls for search and rescue cases from the sector and district, and helping manage the general operational picture for the daily activity of the air station. It’s a great way to actually help out the air station and give the pilots a small break from their busy schedules.

 

So both the flying and the watches were good experiences; but, the highlight for me was definitely meeting all the wonderful people at the air station. The aviation community is full of people who truly care about each other, and who love being pilots for the Coast Guard. I learned so much from hearing about each of their experiences and unique backgrounds, and found some individuals whose values and career paths aligned precisely with my own. Some showed me what it means to be a skilled and highly proficient pilot; some demonstrated to me what it means to take care of others and watch out for their well-being; some displayed the positive attitude and sense of humor necessary to make it through challenging assignments; still others helped me understand what goes into an aviation career from start to finish, including families and graduate school. It was such an invaluable experience; definitely one of the best I have had since reporting in. I’m all the more grateful to have spent time with the Clearwater crew, because amazingly, this fall will mark the start of my journey into the aviation community when I start preparing my flight school application! And let me tell you, spending five weeks at air station Clearwater has given me so much motivation to try my hardest and get into Coast Guard aviation. Praise God for first phase; stay tuned to hear about second phase in a few weeks!

 

More about Abby.