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Perseverant Cadet

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Daghir Photo Taking a look at the past week, I thought it was important to share with you a time that has been harder for me to cope with than anything yet at this school. In the past few weeks I have learned what it means to be a leader amongst my shipmates, what it really means to be strong for shipmates and to support them through the roughest of waters.


It all started a week and a half ago when I went to a soccer game against Connecticut College to support my friends, called the Whale Cup. The game was introduced to the Corps of the Cadets with freshmen making whale noises into the microphone, and all were encouraged to attend the game wearing spirit gear. I donned my spirit T-shirt and a pair of black leggings, and headed down to the game. I sat with some friends and cheered the whole time, the game was highly attended and a lot of our senior leadership was in the stands.


The next day my company chief came to my room and informed me that I needed to go down with him to meet with the Assistant Commandant of Cadets. I found myself at the Commandant of Cadets conference table and there he sat in front of me due to the fact that I wore black leggings to the soccer game, and they had not been technically authorized for game attendance (they were allowed to be worn while working out). I was sentenced to two weeks of restriction and two marching tours and four work hours. All for wearing leggings. As a side note, I want you to know that I love being in the Coast Guard (see previous blogs) and I am super excited to graduate BUT this is not the end of my story.


Okay so I am restricted for two weeks, which means that I am not allowed to leave school at all or be out of uniform during the workday. Then I found out that my classmate Ricky Davies passed away this weekend. I had had every class with Ricky all through my time at the Academy, we were the same major and he was a dear friend. Dealing with this kind of tragedy was and is crazy for me. As an always very positive person, I have never really had to cope with such negativity and while I could come closer to the men’s soccer team to find comfort and support, the Academy never stops.


It actually hit me this week that being an officer or even being an adult in real life means that you can’t shut down once you are hit with even the worst news. Life doesn’t stop. In fact, the day after Ricky died, I had to help a teammate with a very serious issue, and after that, my company had an inspection that went poorly and we were punished for that further.


I hate to write such a negative blog (sorry again) but I just want you all to know that as much fun as I have here, it definitely takes a strong person, or a person who can learn to be strong to go through a place like this. The rewards are worth the effort, but none of it is easy. And it will never be the same for you as it is for someone else. Some people struggle with grades here, others with not being able to live like their friends at normal college, others with being so busy that you lose time for yourself. Just know that the friends you make and the lessons you learn are irreplaceable and that it really does challenge you to become bigger than yourself.


More about Lucy.


This Summer I Learned ______ About Myself

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Chang Photo I always forget how many people read these blogs, so it comes as a surprise when people say they read my last entry. (If you’re reading this, hi, Cuzza and Doyle!)


One of the main Academy missions is the professional and leadership development of cadets. This is typically done through corps-wide lectures, discussions with company officers and chiefs, and the examples set by the upper-class. We also have leadership journals, usually done once or twice a semester. Our journals are due soon and I haven’t started a blog entry yet, so, to kill two birds with one stone, here’s a part of my leadership journal with the topic, “This Summer I Learned _____ About Myself.”


Every Academy summer has taught me new things about myself, but I’ve found that I’m also learning the same lessons every summer, just from a different angle. The importance of patience and perseverance are recurring lessons that I’m grateful to have had. As a swab, being patient helped me stay calm, which made it easier to accomplish a task. Likewise, as a cadre I found that being patient and encouraging was a more suitable leadership style for me. The swabs saw me as an approachable figure, were less afraid of asking questions, and therefore were able to effectively learn seamanship in a safe environment.


While I’ve learned a lot about myself this summer, I’ve also learned what I need to work on: public speaking skills. I’ve never been the most assertive person, and while I’ve become more apt to speak up, the navigation briefs I gave this summer were kind of rough. At the Academy, there are plenty of opportunities for me to work on this skill via cadet panels, classroom speeches, or simple practice.


More about Olivia.


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.


The Boat

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Chang Photo “C’mon, guys. Let’s get back to the boat.”


A chorus of groans and grumbles erupts from our group as we reluctantly make our way back to the USCGC Barque Eagle. Her masthead lights subtlety overlap the New York City streetlights, yardarms extended in an evening greeting. New York City was a heck of an awesome time. Loaded down with souvenirs, full stomachs, and fond memories, we crawl into our racks to get a few hours of sleep before our transit out from the Hudson River to New London, Connecticut.


Eagle usually gets a bad reputation because the work is hard and living conditions aren’t luxurious. However, being Eagle cadre turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I definitely learned more in those three weeks as cadre than in my ten weeks underway as a 3/c. While it may have been fun to yell at the swabs while they did push-ups, it was a much more applicable form of leadership to talk them through climbing the masts. Stress is put upon you in a different way, because your assignments, besides guiding the swabs, include collateral duties such as navigation briefs and log-keeping. Plus, the port calls weren’t a bad deal at all. I saw two free Broadway shows in New York City. And I saw my mom. That was pretty awesome.


I’m definitely going to try to get back onto Eagle next summer. But, before that, I need to get through this semester. I will let you know how that goes. Expect another entry soon if I’m not consumed by papers and reading assignments!


More about Olivia.


Not Your Typical Summer Vacation

(Just for Fun, Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Fenster Photo Here at the Coast Guard Academy, it’s advertised that your summers are going to be much more than the average three-month poolside summer. After my first summer and “real Coast Guard” experience, I’m happy to report that that is not false advertising.


A bit of background: for third class cadets, half of our 11-week summer experience will be spent aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle, the only tall ship still actively serving in the United States military. The other half is spent at an active duty Coast Guard unit, either a small boat station or a cutter carrying out the missions of the USCG. So as school came to a close, my classmates and I received our summer assignments to units across the globe and subsequently reported in following the conclusion of exams, with half going to the Eagle and the other half (myself included) headed to our summer posts. And without further explanation, here is a rundown of my exciting 3/c summer.


First Half: Five Weeks, USCG Station Chatham 


While half of my classmates sailed on the USCGC Eagle from New London to Dublin and on to London, I spent the first part of my summer at Coast Guard Station Chatham in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. If you’ve seen or heard of the new Disney movie The Finest Hours (if you haven’t, I highly recommend it), then you’ve heard of Station Chatham.


My first impressions of Chatham were overwhelmingly positive and not only reflective of the station’s focus and dedication to the Coast Guard’s missions but also to the preparedness and readiness of the Coast Guard as a whole. The long history of Station Chatham, dating back to the original lighthouse keepers of the early nineteenth century, is not lost on those currently stationed there, and they do their best daily to continue the storied legacy.


And during my five weeks at the station, I learned a lot about how small boat stations operate. I watched and worked alongside the permanent crew as we handled search and rescue cases; controlled the radios in the communications room while talking with boats in distress; and communicated with the overseeing Sector Southeast New England about effective strategies to ensure boater safety. I also had the incredibly unique opportunity to ride on the three special self-righting surf motor life boats that the station uses in its operations. I participated in search pattern patrols, watched as crew teams boarded recreational vessels, drove the boat at high speeds, and even participated in drops and hoists with helicopters from Joint Air Base Cape Cod.


One of the most valuable tasks I did at the station was the everyday dirty work with the crew. Working alongside the crew daily to clean boats, scrape glue, paint, sand, cut grass, weed, and do other seemingly menial tasks not only allowed me to bond with them and foster a culture of respect and appreciation but also gave me valuable insight into how hard the Coast Guard truly does work on a daily basis.


Second Half: Six Weeks, USCGC Eagle  


I learned a lot during my first five weeks at Station Chatham. But even with that experience under my belt, I was still very nervous flying to London to meet Eagle. After group of my classmates on first phase took her from New London to London, the other half of the great Class of 2019 boarded in London to bring her back stateside.


Being a part of a transatlantic crossing on a three-masted sailing ship was an experience I will never forget. From London, we set sail for Funchal, Madeira, a Portuguese territory off the coast of Africa. It took us nine days to reach the island from London, and that first leg of the journey was a blur. Memorizing all of the 200+ pinrails and lines on Eagle and beginning the process of helm and lookout qualification made every day a busy one. By the time we pulled into Madeira, it seemed like no time had passed at all.


The island was beautiful. It’s hard to describe the sight of a mountainous island spiraling up out of the sea as it appears over the horizon, and as we got closer on our approach to port, we could see just how beautiful it truly was. The entire island was culture overload, with everything from food to soccer to fireworks. The three and a half days we had in port seemed to go by way too fast, and as quickly as we had arrived, we set sail for Hamilton, Bermuda.


The longest leg of our journey was the middle one, from Madeira to Bermuda. Spending 18 days at sea without any sight of land is a life-changing experience. If I tried to write down all the memories from the voyage, I would run out of room on my computer. We saw all kinds of aquatic wildlife; got to swing off the ship into the crystal clear water on a rope swing; go on auxiliary space and engine room rounds; stand helm and lookout watches as qualified watchstanders; and participate in sail and line handling evolutions that changed the direction of the sails (and the ship) if the wind direction and speed necessitated it.


Eighteen days at sea seemed like both the longest and shortest 18 days of my life. But when we pulled into port and the water changed to the clear turquoise color that Bermuda is famous for, I realized I had never been more relieved to be on land than at that moment that we disembarked. We had four days to rest and relax on the Bermudan beaches, and after a cliff-jumping, pastry-eating, fun-filled vacation, we boarded Eagle to bring her back stateside.


It was a quick five day journey and we pulled into Coast Guard Base Portsmouth for the night before docking her in Norfolk, Virginia the following day. I had long dreamed of the day I stepped off of Eagle, but when the time came, I felt a little sad that I was bidding her goodbye. It’s strange, but I (and I believe a lot of my classmates) had forged a bond with the 70-year old sailing ship that brought us safely across the mighty Atlantic.


And after a few weeks of restful vacation at home, I’m back here at the Academy for 3/c year. I’m excited to see what the upcoming semester and year have in store. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me at


Semper P and Go Bears,


More about Colin.