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cadet blogs

Dear Class of 2021

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Friedman Photo First off, congratulations on receiving your appointment and on deciding to come to the Academy. As Swearing-In Day gets closer, the excitement of receiving your appointment has probably transformed into nerves for Swab Summer to come; so, here are my tips for your summer ahead.

 

Don’t try to find or get the Running Light ahead of time. Trust me; you will have plenty of time to learn it this summer and during 4/c year. Spend the time between now and Swearing-In Day with your family and friends.

 

Come in mentally and physically ready. I usually recommend that you are able to do 30 minutes of running, upper body, lower body, and abs. If you can hit that mark great, if not, don’t let it ruin the rest of the time you have left at home with stress. The more important thing is that you can push yourself and never quit. A large part of Swab Summer is learning how to deal with failure and high-stress situations. Come in knowing that you’re not perfect, you are going to fail and that is okay. Learn from it and move on.

 

Don’t take things personally; this goes with being mentally prepared. Nothing your cadre do will be personal. There needs to be a drastic transformation in a relatively short amount of time and this requires all discrepancies to be addressed immediately. We are simply trying to get the action up to standard. People who take corrections personally and let them fester usually have a rougher time during the summer than those who learn the lesson and move on.

 

Ask your friends and family to write to you and send care packages. Getting mail during Swab Summer is super motivating. When my parents sent me mail during my Swab Summer, they would write corny jokes on the card. It is something little but it helped me a lot. Also, tell your parents to send you food if they can. You will be given enough time to eat and as much food as you want, but, as a swab you’re constantly moving so you’re constantly hungry.

 

Females, practice putting your hair up in a bun. Don’t cut your hair within two weeks of Swab Summer to give you a chance to get used to dealing with it. Bring extra hair ties and hair gel. If you think hair ties disappear fast at home, you’ll be amazed at the rate they go missing during Swab Summer.

 

Enjoy the time you have between now and swearing in. I know anticipating the summer is stressful but try to relax and enjoy this time. The summer will come and go; it is only seven-weeks out of your 200-week experience at the Academy. Your cadre are there to help you become a basically trained military member and an effective 4/c cadet. Believe it or not, we want you to succeed and complete the summer. We were in your shoes not too long ago.

 

If you have any other questions please feel free to email me at Jill.M.Friedman@uscga.edu. I know most bloggers put this at the end of their entries, but we mean it. We volunteer to write these blogs because we remember how much they helped us when we were in your shoes so please do feel free to reach out, whether you’re in 2021 or not, we want to help you.

 

More about Jill.

 

Getting Accepted Into Prep School

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Hill Photo I attended Cadet for a Day as a junior in high school and loved everything the Coast Guard Academy stood for. The AIM program rejected me in the summer of 2014. Then, I found out on Christmas of that year that I was not accepted during the Early Action process for the USCGA. I reasoned it was because I did not take a math course my senior year (I hadn’t even taken pre-calculus). The Coast Guard Academy was the only service academy I had applied to because it was perfect for me—a Florida girl who loved law enforcement, the United States, and the coast (of course!). I decided then that I would go to the University of South Florida on an Air Force ROTC scholarship, which I was not as thrilled about.

 

I still did not give up on my dream though—I decided to send the softball coach at the USCGA my highlights video and asked people I knew to write recommendation letters for me. So, when I received an email from a LT about an opportunity for the Coast Guard Academy Scholars program—I screamed and jumped up and down with my mom and my next-door neighbor. The fact that I was given a chance, a CHANCE, a clear path to eventually becoming an officer in the United States Coast Guard, had me stoked! I was a bit nervous about the amount of effort and work I would have to put in to be successful, but I rationalized that nothing worth doing is easy. This would set me up for the rest of my life—work hard now, serve my country and have an early retirement; which seemed okay to me :).

 

More about Kelly.

 

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.

 

New Year, Last Semester

(Academics, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Hill Photo Happy New Year, am I right? Okay, I was so not looking forward to getting back to reality after an awesome vacation with the family back home in South Florida, but I came back loaded down with: a positive mindset, warm Under Armour gear, inspirational books, and decorations to remind me of home. I love my new room and roommate—it’s on third deck instead of fourth (less stairs!) and its warmer and in a more central location to my company dayroom, or main hang-out room.

 

Upcoming events for me this semester:

 

  • I am worried about passing boards (what 4/c have to pass to become 3/c – It is essentially a test on all the information from the Running Light)
  • Excited for six weeks on USCGC Eagle (Please 1st phase and Bermuda) and two weeks in the fleet this summer
  • Trying Crossfit Club because I eat too many cheddar bunnies not to…thanks new roomie :)

 

In other news, to keep spirits up during the “dark ages” of winter in Connecticut, I have found strength, hope, and guidance from teachers and mentors. Officers who went through the CGA themselves, keep saying, “It gets better” and that life in the fleet is something to look forward to. Oh, and LT Parker’s pet Husky, Aries is adorable. I am also resolved to read my textbook so that I am prepared ahead of time for class. Thus far, I have understood all of the Calculus II, Physics and Statics Engineering and Design material covered, so that’s a plus.

 

Comment on the weather: at first, seeing all the snow was a little scary, but it is beautiful and I am adapting. My Southern tank-top-no-shoe-wearing self is learning how to dress for the cold and brave the storms. OOO RAH Coast Guard! (hah)

 

After this first, decidedly not stress-less week of second semester, it was great to unwind and get closer to new friends over a long weekend.

 

Just keep trucking and live in the moment.

 

Thanks for reading (or skimming)!
4/c Kelly Hill

 

More about Kelly.