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Fourth Class Experiences

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Just for Fun, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Sukcha Photo It has been a while since my first post. There are exactly two more weeks left before I leave for summer leave. I am truly excited as I will be spending my entire summer break with two of my very close friends in Clearwater, Florida.

 

There are many things that I have done and experienced throughout my year as a fourth class at the Academy. Let’s start with the Pistol Team. In my first year on the team, I have traveled to quite a few places including West Point, New York; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Fort Benning, Georgia. It was a lot of fun to compete with the top teams in the nation. Fortunately, with the help of my friends and coaches, both military and civilian, I made it to the Pistol National Collegiate Championship.

 

In addition to pistol, I have also traveled with the Academy’s Glee Club. I am truly happy to be a part of this wonderful group of young, talented vocalists. We traveled a lot to entertain people throughout the country. I was lucky to be a part of a few performances in New York City and Quincy, Massachusetts.

 

And in my whole life, I had never yet experienced a snow day. It was fantastic playing in the snow. (View my photo gallery to see the fun pictures!)

 

During the holidays, I am not able to return to Malaysia due to the expense of the flights. However, I have wonderful friends who invite me to their houses. So far, I have been to Maryland, Virginia and soon to Florida. I will keep travelling whenever I have chance to see more of what the world can offer.

 

More about Saranjoe.

One Busy Month

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Just for Fun, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Eshleman Photo The end of April is approaching and what a month it has been. April began with my 21st birthday. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity on my 21st to sing the national anthem at the U.S. women’s soccer game against Colombia in Hartford, Connecticut. It was an amazing experience. Being right there on the field next to these women and all of their fans that look up to them so much was inspiring. Glee Club has provided me with a lot of great opportunities, but this was definitely one of my favorites. We also got to sing at a dinner at the New York City Athletic Club last week. Every weekend thus far in April has been jam-packed with activities. Between lacrosse, glee, and two formals, it has been quite an eventful month.

 

Third class formal was the second weekend in April. Our Link in the Chain class, the Class of 1968, donated their rings to be melted and put into our rings for next year. We had a wonderful ceremony and got to see a video that was composed of pictures of both their class and ours during our times at the Academy. It was really neat to see how times had changed, but yet how there are many similarities due to the decades of tradition here at the CGA. Ring Dance was just as fantastic of a night. The ballroom as decorated with beautiful veils across the ceiling and the 2/c cadets had the chance to dip their rings in water from all over the world. Getting to see the 2/c get their rings as a mark of their progress through the Academy made me extremely excited for next year and finally becoming an upper-class. Overall, April has been busy and exciting, and with transition into the warm weather, I cannot wait to see what summer training brings!

 

More about Hannah.

 

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.

 

Academy Weekends: Work Hard, Play Hard

(Academics, Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Glick Photo February is flying by, and spring break is right around the corner: next week! My classmates and I are anticipating the summer billet list. We are curious to find out where we will be spending our summers!

 

If you have ever seen the movie Groundhog Day, that’s pretty much what the Academy is like 2/c year, or in any year of the Academy experience for that matter. In the movie, Bill Murray lives the same day over and over again, and tests the limits of his newly discovered power of repeating the same day. Likewise, at the Academy, everything is routine. You eat at the same time every day, walk by the same people at the same time every day, workout at the same time every day, and see the same faces every day. My weeks keep me busy with classes, schoolwork, getting the Corps ready for the arrival for the Class of 2020 as a member of Battalion Staff, attending Corps-wide leadership lecture series, and fulfilling military trainings.

 

Now, to discuss life at the Academy after Friday LMO (last military obligation): the weekends are when the magic happens! This weekend, I am traveling to USMA for the West Point Model United Nations competition. Two weekends ago, some of my friends and I checked out Mohegan Sun, one of the largest casinos on the East Coast, and ate at some high class restaurants. Last weekend, I went to New York City, and the weekend before that we had a Class of 2017 event at a downtown New London restaurant. Another weekend this semester I drove to Wesleyan University to meet up with a friend. The weekends break up the constant rhythm of the Academy weekday routine, and allow cadets to explore their interests, faith, and the local area. Some of my friends also travel with the Glee Club, boxing team, and other sports teams all across the country on the weekends.

 

Having said all that, Academy weekends are sometimes all about rest and reflection. Every few weeks, we have formal room and wing inspections to ensure that we are keeping work-life conditions clean. Most weekends, I stay back and get ahead on homework, projects, and resolve problems regarding the highly anticipated arrival of the Class of 2020! Of course, there is plenty to do in New London on weekends, including restaurants and many different faith congregations in the area. On my quieter weekends, I grab breakfast with some friends before church early Sunday mornings, or go downtown on Friday nights with the boys. In all, weekends are what make the Academy experience fun and enjoyable, and allow for cadets to engage in reflection and self-discovery, and catch up on our many duties.

 

More about William.

 

How Do You Spend Your Friday Nights?

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Twarog Photo Prior to coming to the Academy, I had the chance to earn a Firefighter 1 certification through my high school. Basically this course taught me all of the basic skills firefighters use at a fire scene. For two hours a day for my entire senior year, I learned how to ventilate a burning building, rescue victims, dress a fire hydrant, and don fire gear. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to take advantage of the certification during my time in high school before getting here. That changed in November when I was accepted as a volunteer firefighter in the Old Mystic Fire Department. Thanks to my certification, I’m fully qualified to respond with the department for medical calls, car accidents and fires.

 

As a fourth class in particular, this works out well because I get to volunteer on Friday and Saturday nights when I normally wouldn’t be able to leave the Academy, and I spend the night at the firehouse. I get volunteer hours for my entire time at the department, and they quickly add up. It’s a pretty great deal all around. Here are a few things that I’ve taken away so far:

  • Responding to a call is a skill you can’t practice in a class. Over Swab Summer, you go from 0-100 in a couple seconds as soon as reveille goes off. That being said, going from 0-100 when the alarm goes off at the house is very different. During Swab Summer, you fight to be out of your room to avoid being shredded apart for being the last on the bulkhead. When the alarm goes off at the firehouse, you know that someone might be having the worst night of their life. No matter how tired or how nervous you might be, you need to have your act together as soon as your feet hit the ground because someone’s life might depend on it. That’s humbling as an 18 year old.
  • Stay humble. There’s a sense of cockiness that everyone inevitably carries if you go to the Academy. We get referred to as “America’s best and brightest” a bit too often for our own good, and it’s easy to have a bit of an ego. As soon as I put on my fire department uniform, nothing that I’ve done at the Academy matters. I’m expected to meet the same expectations as those I serve with, and I might be spending my Saturday night cleaning toilets (which coming off a Formal Room and Wing isn’t fun). Respect has to be earned, and it doesn’t come easily.
  • Never say the “q” word. Ever. The second you say the word “quiet,” you’re asking for the wrath of God. The second you hope for a quiet night, you’ve asked for calls straight from midnight to 6 a.m.
  • You’re going to learn just as much about leadership as a first responder as being the president of any club. There’s an unwritten trust that comes with rolling up with the flashing lights. The people we serve let out a sigh of relief when they see us come on scene. They might be scared, in a lot of pain or barely hanging onto consciousness but, regardless, when they see us get out of the truck, they know that we’re here to help them. On the inside, there are going to be times when you are overwhelmed or nervous. You have to be that face of calm for them though. If that’s not a lesson in leadership, I don’t know what is.
  • The moment you go on your first call, all of the time you’ve spent in class and on weekends training is worth it. Words can’t capture the sense of pride and satisfaction you get after going on your first call. Walking a stretcher to the ambulance and being thanked by a patient is pretty amazing. I think that volunteering with the OMFD has confirmed that the Coast Guard is the right service for me.

 

If you have the chance to get an EMT or Firefighter 1 certification, do it. It’ll be one of the best decisions of your life.

 

More about Evan.