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The Journey of Boards

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Sharp Photo Biggest news to date: I passed boards during the week of February 17th! Now, if you understand what this statement means, then feel free to stop reading here. For those that do not understand, let us venture on a little journey together.


It all started on R-Day; the day my life changed forever. My shipmates of the Class of 2019 reported to the Academy on June 29, 2015 and immediately got screamed at. We ran around sweating for a few hours, saw our parents for five minutes, and then returned to the grind for the rest of the summer. (Side note: I never fully understood why they let us see our parents after a few hours of running around on that first date. It’s like dangling a piece of bacon in front of a newly “discovered” vegetarian. The only plausible reason it would serve is to weed out the people who want to go home right then and there… but still.) Anyway, one of the best parts of R-Day, and even Swab Summer as a whole, is a little something the cadre call “indoc.” Sounds fun, right? WRONG. For the life of me, I cannot do indoc. What the heck is this demon, you ask? Well, my friends, it is short for “indoctrination,” which is a big, fancy word for random facts about the Coast Guard that some higher-up person thought we should all know. Some of these things are downright insane – like the 250-word response that is proper to answer the question “what time is it?” or the one that talks about a “cow…” Needless to say, I found no point in learning indoc. I would literally rather push deck (do push-ups) for hours on end instead of knowing the length, beam, draft, and displacement of Healy.


This mentality worked over Swab Summer because we pushed deck all the time anyway. But, then the school year rolled around, midterms came, the second semester started, and there I was. Little 4/c Sharp in complete denial of all things indoc. Still. It hit me the day before my first board that this was, like, an actual thing. You see, in order to advance a rank (to go from 4/c to 3/c) everyone must pass boards. When our whole class passes boards, we can get social media back, so the stakes are fairly high. I really did not want to be the last one in my class to pass because I hate holding back my shipmates. But, there was only so much indoc I could cram into my head within a 24-hour period. So I studied. Hard. And, with the help of a few people, I somehow managed to get a 6/10. You need at least an 8, however. After that first board, I accepted the fact that I would probably pass last in my class. But I was not about to give up.


The Journey of Boards (Continued) PDF 

More about Kirsten.


Swab Summer Preparation

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
King Photo March 18th is exactly one year since I received my appointment to the Coast Guard Academy. I remember the moment when I received the email; I stood up and cheered—even though it was in the middle of the school day. I was so excited to go to the Academy and couldn’t believe that I was heading there for Swab Summer. I started preparing for Swab Summer pretty much the day I got my appointment, and would like to share some tips.


Get into excellent physical shape. This is probably one of the best pieces of advice I can give you. While you can never truly prepare for the mental aspect, you can definitely prepare for the physical. Make sure to push yourself, specifically in running (three miles is a good distance), pushups, and core exercises. While it won’t make Swab Summer easy, it will definitely make it a little bit better. A physical fitness goal would to score a B or higher on the first PFE.


Play to your strengths and be resourceful. Not everyone is going to be excellent at pushups and not everyone is going to be awesome at memorizing information. That’s what makes your company a team. I found out pretty quickly over the summer that I wasn’t the fastest or the strongest. However, I was really good at making people laugh and staying enthusiastic. I made sure to keep the mood light and encouraged my shipmates during the seven weeks.


You will fail, and it will hurt. It’s really a matter of what you do afterward. Whatever you do, keep trying your hardest. Nothing can replace effort during Swab Summer. I’ve seen it happen where a perfectly fit swab gives up during a set of pushups while a less fit swab continues exercising. Your cadre will make sure that you struggle. That’s part of their job to prepare you for the school year. From my experience, they will continue to push you and will put in a ton of time and effort in training you. They won’t give up on you, so you shouldn’t give up on yourself.


Don’t forget to laugh. Swab Summer is chaotic, and there are days when you will want to quit. However, keep a positive attitude. During my Swab Summer, I told my company a joke every single day during bathroom breaks. This allowed for a quick break and gave some perspective. Swab Summer is only seven weeks out of 200 here. It does get better, a lot better. Just know when to laugh and when to lock it up.


More about Deborah.


A Leap of Faith

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2019) Permanent link
King Photo 4/c Matt Hwang and I decided to work together on this video project. Matt is a budding filmmaker who has been making short movies around campus. I liked the artistic shots and new perspective that he portrays. Together, we agreed to make a short video about cadet life. We brainstormed the topic, wrote a script, and filmed together. It was then edited and uploaded for your viewing pleasure.

Deb's video blog YouTube Icon


More about Deb.


Lax But Not Relax

(Athletics, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Eshleman Photo January has come and gone and with the arrival of February came the start of spring sports. The women’s lacrosse team started their second varsity season here at the CGA. The first week of practice we got extremely lucky; there was no snow, and we could sport gym shirts and shorts on the practice field. After this past week, our luck ended and the snow has returned but we are still outside practicing in rain or shine (or snow). The first week was tough. We prepared ourselves over the winter with conditioning workouts with the new strength coach, Coach Shakira, and also with individual workouts. But regardless of the preparation, last week left me sore and tired, but also motivated for what the season will bring.


Our first scrimmage is on the 20th of February. We have six practices a week, two hours a day, as do all the other varsity sports at the Academy, and the improvement we see every day on the field and the bonds forming on the team is exciting to be a part of. Once games start after the 20th of February, weekends off will be a thing of the past. We have a game every weekend and on some Wednesdays. What about spring break? We’re off to Colorado to play throughout the week. I am thrilled to head back to Colorado. It will be my first time there since doing a year of civilian college at the University of Colorado in Boulder between 2013 and 2014. I am hoping some old friends may be able to visit and watch me play. While this semester is hectic, being busy helps keep me focused. I find I am more productive in my “free” time when I have a demanding schedule. So far, balancing academics, social life, Glee Club, and lacrosse has been, while frenzied occasionally, a good experience. I am getting the opportunity to do all the activities I love to do, and I feel quite lucky.


More about Hannah.


4/c Daily Duties

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Friedman Photo One thing I always remembered when I was applying to the Academy and browsing through the blogs was reading about how the 3/c were so happy they didn’t have to do all of the 4/c duties anymore. But no one really explained what the 4/c duties were. There is a good amount but I thought I’d give the top duties.


Clocks – At the Academy we have formation twice a day, before breakfast and before lunch. Starting 10 minutes before every formation there has to be a 4/c at every clock in the company’s wing area sounding off the time to go to formation and daily indoc (meals, days to go, movies, CGA sports games).


Bracing Up/Bussing – Whenever 4/c are in Chase Hall we are braced up, greeting the upper class, squaring corners, squaring our meals, and not talking to each other. Outside of Chase Hall, we have to bus everywhere, which means we march from class to class as a group. The most annoying part of this is that people have different length legs so depending on who’s in the front of your formation you’re either crawling or sprinting to class.


Indoc Tests – The Running Light doesn’t go away after Swab Summer. Every week 4/c are assigned three to four pages of indoc to memorize, then Sunday night there is an indoc test which 4/c must get an 80% or above on to pass. If you fail there are consequences such as extra indoc tests, note cards, or demerits. Toward the end of 4/c year, you take a cumulative exam, called boards. Everyone in your class must pass in order to earn carry-on and not have to brace-up anymore.


Note Cards – As a 4/c note cards are transformed from a helpful way to keep track of notes to a torturous punishment. If you’ve ever been in detention before and had to write something 100 times you know the premise of note cards. The difference is each note card has to be properly formatted, which means they take about two minutes each; when you get a lot it takes a long time and hurts your hand.


Formal Room and Wing – This is a big inspection the corps has once a month, as a 4/c we have the duty of cleaning the wing area and any other assigned spaces around Chase Hall. This usually results in a late night. It isn’t the best way to spend a Friday night but as a 4/c you’re not allowed to leave the Academy on Fridays anyway and in my company the upper class will usually get pizza or ice cream for us when we’re up late cleaning.


This makes 4/c year sound awful; I’ll admit it’s not great all the time but I’ve definitely had more good days than bad. These duties quickly become just a part of your daily routine and don’t seem as inconvenient. Plus, you have your entire class with you dealing with the same thing. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at


More about Jill.