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cadet blogs

Prepare to be Unprepared

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Kimura Photo Swab Summer is something everyone forgets the bad from and remembers the good. When I prepared for the infamous Swab summer, I had the worst in mind coming from CGAS. The phrase “prepare for the worst, and hope for the best” does not even do justice to the training swabs go through. No matter the preparation, the simple tasks of Swab Summer often throw wrenches into visions swabs have going into it.

 

Take my summer for example; I went in physically fit; doing push-ups, rowers, flutter kicks, running, and all the other good stuff. But the day after my company got medically cleared and took the PFE, we went on a run in formation and I took a wrong step that sprained my ankle. Not thinking anything of it, I kept going. I was percolating and sprinting with my company for the rest of the morning. I kept this up until I felt a pop and pain seared throughout my ankle to the point of tears. I never could have prepared for the two nights I spent in the ward because the tear in my ligament caused my foot to swell and bruise like a balloon. Neither could I have prepared for the week following, when I tried to make up for my injury’s hindrance by moving as fast or faster than my shipmates doing change remedials, memorizing extra indoc, and putting the extra effort to show an injury would not stop me.

 

The summer will bring events one cannot prepare for in advance, whether an injury, family problems, personal revelations, or even culture shock. The best thing to do is go through it with an open mind, 100 percent effort because cadre can see right through those trying to just get by, and the company of your shipmates.

 

More about Amy.

 

Swab Summer: Ultimately About Teamwork

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Mills Photo To the Class of 2020,

 

I am already so proud of your accomplishments and perseverance to receive an appointment to the Coast Guard Academy, especially my cadet candidates from last summer. This summer, you are going to embark on the most challenging and rewarding journey of your life to date. Let me assure you, it will be worth it. Swab Summer is meant to test your emotional, physical and mental strength. You won’t be great at everything, and there are some things you may find easy. Make sure to share your strengths with your shipmates and allow your shipmates to share their strengths with you. Swab Summer is ultimately about teamwork; you don’t have to do it alone and you shouldn’t. If you haven’t been practicing push-ups, sit-ups and running, please start now. It will only make the transition to Swab Summer easier. Also, if you are not from a hot and humid climate, be prepared for the Connecticut summers because they can be blistering on some days. Take each day a meal at a time and realize that it is only seven weeks of the four years of training. Just try your best and help your shipmates when you can. Most importantly, there will be at least one person that struggles a lot during these seven weeks. Help that person who is struggling because you are only as strong as the weakest link in your company. Have fun! You are going to meet your best friends in life and make some good memories. Good luck 2020!!!

 

More about Sydney.

 

For What it’s Worth: Advice to the Class of 2020

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Fenster Photo So in about a month, you’ll be reporting in for the beginning of your 200-week Academy experience. I’ll be the first to tell you that I wasn’t the best swab to come through this place—in fact, far from it. However, I can tell you now (from the other side) that it will definitely be worth it. However, those weeks will be some of the most difficult you have ever endured. So I’ve got some advice for you:

 

1. Remember that it’s all temporary. There will be pain, and you’ll be stressed, and you’ll be uncomfortable. And when it’s happening, you’ll doubt yourself, and you’ll doubt your shipmates, and you’ll doubt your cadre. But when that happens, it’s important to keep in mind that you are here for a reason, your shipmates are too and will always have your back, and that your cadre have been trained and are training you to become members of the Corps of Cadets. Besides, they’re secretly rooting for you to succeed, and everyone else is as well.

 

2. Remember that this is only a small, small part of your Academy experience. For a part of my Swab Summer, I really wanted to quit. I’m not ashamed by the fact because I know I wasn’t the only one who felt that way—I’m pretty sure that nearly everyone will feel that way at some point or another. But the sagest piece of advice that I ever got came from an old friend, who told me that the only time you’ll ever regret something is when you don’t see something to completion. And I can assure you that with Swab Summer that is absolutely applicable. It is seven short weeks, and it will be over before you know it.

 

3. Stay true to yourself. Swab Summer is designed to transition you from a civilian to a cadet in the United States Coast Guard, and your cadre will make sure that happens. But you will not be successful if you don’t maintain your individuality. While you will become part of a team with your shipmates who going through the summer with you, remember that it’s ok to be yourself every once in a while. When you can, laugh a little bit. Recognize the positive things that happen every once in a while. And above all, remember that you’re still you.

 

Enjoy the last month you have before your report in. It’s going to be a difficult summer, but a rewarding one. As always, if you have any questions about how you can prepare for the summer or how you can approach the summer, feel free to contact me at Colin.D.Fenster@uscga.edu.

 

Semper P and Go Bears,
Colin

 

More about Colin.

 

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.

 

It Was All Worth It!

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Roesch Photo I can’t believe, as I’m sitting here in Chase Hall, that these next few nights will be the last I spend here as a cadet. Time seemed to fly by so incredibly fast as a 1/c. I got back from my summer assignment (Eagle and Air Station New Orleans) and rolled right into a whirlwind of a semester. As one of the primary planners of our annual Parents’ Weekend, managing schoolwork, and completing the many steps of my flight school application, fall semester went by so fast with all of the tasks on my to-do list. Spring semester was no different and started off equally fast-paced; however, most of those items were glaring reminders that “real life” was right around the corner and ENS Roesch was quickly becoming a soon-to-be reality. From submitting my dream sheet of billet requests, completing my flight school interview, and getting settled into my last semester of undergraduate courses, I played the waiting game until Billet Night to figure out where I would be going for my first tour.

 

Billet Night was, by far, the best night of my four years at the Academy. Beforehand, everyone had the same amount of nervousness jumping around inside of them, anxiously waiting to hear where they would be assigned next. The excitement inside Leamy Hall that night was tangible and all of 2016 was ready to hear our futures. Recalling the moment I was called to the stage to receive my billet, all I can remember is the feeling of my heart pounding inside my chest. Standing on the stage waiting to open my folder was undoubtedly the longest seconds I’ve ever experienced! When I opened my folder, I couldn’t breathe and the tears began to roll down my face: I was going to flight school! That night is something I will never forget – five years of intense, hard work all became extremely worth it within a matter of seconds! What’s even better is that all of my close friends received billets that they were extremely excited about. Being able to share those same emotions with my best friends made the night even sweeter.

 

Following Billet Night, everything seemed to just start happening at an unusually fast pace. Emails with paperwork, forms, trainings, and more to be completed began making their way into my in box, but it was all thrilling because it all meant one thing: I was graduating and making my way down to Pensacola, Florida to become a Coast Guard aviator! I can definitely fill out a bunch of paperwork for that! I began looking for an apartment and things to fill it with (my OWN place!!), swim teams in the area that I can join, parks I can run in with my dog…basically beginning my new life. It’s all so crazy, but so exciting.

 

Now, as I wait for my family to make their way to New London for Commencement Week, all I can do is just sit back and smile. Though this place had its countless unique challenges, I’m walking away with so many experiences that have taught me about life, the world, our society, and myself. Most importantly, I’m walking away with some of the best friends I will ever have. I am so glad, and somewhat surprised, that I made it through and that all those dreams I had in high school are becoming a reality! My advice to anyone starting their journey: never give up, stay focused on your goals, be resilient, and ignore the naysayers – it will all be very worth it one day!

 

More about Allie.