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cadet blogs

Swab Summer Etiquette

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Chang Photo To the incoming Class of 2021,

 

Congrats! This message will be starkly different from the one your cadre will give you, but either way we’re all super excited to meet you. Around this time of year, three years ago, I remember watching Swab Summer videos on YouTube and scouring the blogs for little tips and tricks for guidance. I’m not going to give anything away, because that would take the fun out of it, but here are the basics of what I guess you could call “Swab Summer etiquette.”

 

1. Share your food: Everyone’s hungry, and an extra bite can really make someone’s day. I remember my friends getting massive care packages loaded with candy, homemade cookies, and granola bars. You really bond with people over a snack and a chat.

 

2. Hygiene: Yes, it’s hard to be clean when you barely have time to brush your teeth, but please, shower. Figure out a system that works for you, because the one of the worst things about Swab Summer is the smell. Even a dab of hand sanitizer goes a long way.

 

3. Homesickness: It’s perfectly normal to be homesick, but I’m not going to sugarcoat this next part. You’re in the military now, and you need to suck it up. If you’re not used to being away from home, Swab Summer will probably amplify feelings of homesickness. Even after a year at prep school, I teared up a little when I got a letter from my mum. Regardless, you have larger things to focus on and sometimes pushing aside these feelings is necessary.

 

During Swab Summer, happiness is scarce and it’s easy to fall into a pit of discouragement. Oftentimes you’re not allowed to show any emotion, but that’s all a part of training to have a proper military bearing. However, when you reflect on your day, try to find at least one good thing you did. It doesn’t have to entail answering a question correctly or having a decent uniform, but maybe you helped your homesick shipmate or had a mini snack-party in your room. Finally, regardless of what light your cadre will see you in, your classmates will remember you the most vividly. I cannot stress enough the importance of helping each other and not being a jerk. People remember the most random things and we all have our bad moments, but don’t let that get in the way of being a decent person.

 

That’s all for now, good luck and see you in August!

 

Very respectfully,
1/c Olivia Chang

 

More about Olivia.

 

My Appointment to the USCGA: January 8, 2014

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Kokomoor Photo It has been more than three years since I received my appointment to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and there are plenty of moments around that time that I can no longer recall, but January 8, 2014 is not one of them. I remember that day as if I could be living it all over again, right now. I wanted to go to the Coast Guard Academy…REALLY BADLY. I was getting nervous that I had not heard back yet from my early action application submission, and I was starting to doubt everything. I thought about what other colleges I did and didn’t apply to and started to get nervous, more so than I like to admit.

 

On January 8, 2014 I went to morning swim practice, I went to school, and then I went home and took a nap. I knew that I had to get up soon to go to afternoon practice, but it was cold outside and so warm in my bed. I was contemplating extending my nap through practice when my phone started to ring from across the room. I almost didn’t get up to answer it; I never answered my phone in high school. But for some reason, still unknown to me, I got up, dragged myself across the room and picked up the phone. It was John Westkott, Head Coach of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Swimming and Diving Team.

 

Everything from there is cookie cutter, an awkwardly exciting conversation with my soon to be college swim coach, some jumping around my room followed by a quick call to my mom, and then my dad, and then my sister, other sister, brother, high school swim coach, everyone, you name them, they got a call. I was off the wall excited to be going to the Academy.

 

After a few weeks the excitement faded and was replaced by nerves. It was something I thought I wanted more than anything, and I started to second guess myself. I had other options, easier options, to consider, ones with less commitment and definitely less stress. But something carried me through those few unsure month. R-Day and Swab Summer came and went and all of a sudden I’m three years in and I haven’t yet made a decision that I regret. It really does all work out in the end!

 

More about Jacklyn.

 

Time is Flying

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2018, Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering) Permanent link
Dow Photo I have blinked and it is already March of my junior year! If there’s one thing that happens at the Academy, it’s that time flies. The days may be slow, but the weeks fly by. So much goes on here that it is hard to keep track of it all… you are so busy working on homework and division work, you don’t even realize it is already spring break!

 

My classes this semester are so different but still provide very useful knowledge that I will have to use next year as my capstone project. This final senior project is a culmination of everything we have learned and more. I am currently taking Ship Structures, Heat Transfer, Advanced Engineering Math, Criminal Justice and Marine Engineering.

 

The Academy also allows for cadets to try new things, and has many chances to do so. One option is the Service Marksmanship Team, which is a club that meets twice a week and does the fundamentals of shooting, without the commitment of a Varsity Division I sport (the other option for cadets for shooting). I have learned so much, and having been surrounded by some of the greatest people at the Academy who want to assist. The experience is so humbling and great.

 

The Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering department also has many opportunities for us to learn about life in the fleet, and applications to what we have been learning in the classroom. We got the chance to tour the Pratt and Whitney facility where they manufacture turbine engines. This trip demonstrated the connection between the real world with what we have learned in Thermodynamics last semester and also Marine Engineering. They also held a Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers meeting onboard the Academy at the O ’Club. We were able to meet Nav Arch professors at the Maine and Massachusetts Maritime Academies, students at the Webb Institute as well as others who are in the Nav Arch profession. It was wonderful to meet others who are successful in their jobs and have a passion for their work.

 

I can’t wait to find out our summer assignments and what the future has is in store for me!

 

More about Emily.

 

Receiving My Appointment: Starting a New Chapter in My Life

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Eshleman Photo Today I am going to look back to three years ago and the day that I got my appointment to the United States Coast Guard Academy. My path to CGA was slightly different than the majority of my classmates. I applied my senior year of high school only to get a small letter in the mail saying that I had not been offered an appointment. Broken hearted and feeling a slightly spited, I temporarily dropped my dreams of attending the CGA. This mentality lasted about a week and then I decided to quit my sulking and keep working to follow my passion to become an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard. I went to University of Colorado for one year. I got a high GPA, participated in NROTC, got in better shape, and when it came time to resubmit my application, I put my heart and soul into my essays in an attempt to show Admissions how much I truly desired an appointment.

 

The moment arrived. I was walking across campus when I saw I was getting a phone call from an unknown number. Thousands of students surrounded me as I walked on a bright March day from Calculus to Chemistry class. I stopped on a grassy quad to answer the call. I remember my Admissions Officer telling me that I had been offered an appointment to the Coast Guard Academy. My world started spinning. The goal I had been reaching toward for years was within grasp and I knew as soon as I got that phone call that as much as I loved civilian college, the Academy was where I was supposed to be.

 

After that phone call the rest of the semester was a whirlwind of paperwork, planning, and getting ready for a new chapter in my life. I have never seen my parents happier for me than when I got my appointment because they knew it was what I wanted so much. To this day, I know I made the right decision coming to the USCGA and not giving up my dream just because of one little letter.

 

More about Hannah.

 

Diversity Makes a Difference

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Chang Photo (02APR17) New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the world, so coming to New London, Connecticut was a bit of a culture shock. However, there are ways to discuss the concept of diversity and the Academy dedicates one week, Eclipse Week, to these discussions. Personally, Eclipse Week is one of my favorite events because I see it as a way to share stories and perspectives that people wouldn’t normally share. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in classes, sports, and drill that anyone can get distracted from their roots, no matter where they’re from. I’ll be working on this blog over the course of Eclipse week, and I’ll try to do a mini-entry every other day. I’ll also try not to sugar-coat anything, because diversity isn’t something that can be taken lightly. It’s a real issue that goes beyond the Coast Guard, and something that I think we should all consider. Hope you like it!

 

(03APR17) This year’s theme is about “character” and who you are when no one’s watching. Conveniently, we had John Quiñones, an ABC News reporter and host of “What Would You Do?” come and speak to us today. He shared his story, his dreams, and the challenges he faced as a Latino-American. What I got from Mr. Quiñones is to never underestimate the value of empathy. Oftentimes when someone is being mistreated, the people who step in to help have had a similar experience and don’t want to see others suffer, even if they’re a complete stranger. Even more interesting was that, most of the time, the people had almost nothing in common, whether it is ethnicity, occupation, or even wealth. However, all it takes for people to take initiative is a single shared idea that they can all relate to.

 

(06APR17) This morning was my first Eclipse Event, organized by the Asian Pacific American Council (APAC). We had breakfast with Asian Coast Guard officers, ranging from Lieutenants from the class of 2015 to Admirals who have been in for a years, and had mentoring sessions over spam and rice. In the short time we had with them, I learned about life in the fleet, life outside the fleet, and I even got some financial advice. However, the most important thing I learned is that diversity makes a difference. I believe that people are visual beings, meaning that a lot of our actions and emotions are affected by what we see around us. Frankly, talking to Asian American officers was really just refreshing because I saw higher shoulder-boards on someone who looked like me. I found myself relating more and being more comfortable asking questions because we were raised under the same culture, and I think non-Asian cadets benefited just as much from seeing a new perspective.

 

(07APR17) Spectrum Council is the Coast Guard’s first official LGBTQ support group and they hosted a lunch panel about transgender people serving in the military. Along with the amazing number of people who attended, we had the opportunity to meet the Coast Guard’s first transgender officer. However, while we can celebrate the progress we’ve made after the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), today’s panel highlighted the changes that will be necessary now that transgender people can openly serve as well. Of course, bathrooms are a prominent issue, but there also needs to be focus on teaching people what exactly “transgender” is and what we can do to help people during their transition, rather than pushing them away. It may be an awkward conversation at first, and some people may be uncomfortable just by reading this entry, but now is the time to adapt and improve our understanding of the changing world around us.

 

(08APR17) So what did I learn this week? I don’t even know where to start. It’s hard to present the concept of “diversity” without making it seem like another mandatory training we have to finish. It’s even harder to show why people should care about diversity issues because they may not see it as a priority, and the worst is when they say, “It’s not that bad.” However, the Coast Guard is a humanitarian service, and taking the perspective of others is one of the basics of our mission. As a Chinese American and member of the LGBTQ community, I truly appreciate how we’re at least making an effort to dispel obstacles and assumptions. Diversity will always be a hard topic and we all have different values, but we should value each other above all else.

 

More about Olivia.