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CADET BLOGS

cadet blogs

Thanksgiving is for Family and Friends

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Sakowicz Photo The greatest thing about the Coast Guard Academy is not the beautiful river view, or the extremely devoted teachers, it is the family you get when you join. On R-Day you have 30 brothers and sisters in your company and a thousand cadets in the corps that have your back. With each cadet, teacher, officer, and sponsor parent, you gain their entire family as well, and are accepted as one of their own.

 

As a cadet that lives relatively close to the Academy, I have, on many occasions, told my parents that not only was I coming home, but my entire entourage would be joining me as well. No grunts or anger from my mother, just how many blankets and packages of Oreos was she going to need to buy. My home is no longer my home, but a home-away-from-home for all of my friends that live on the West Coast. My two closest friends no longer ask me when I am going home, but call my parents asking if they can crash for the weekend, even if I am not going to be there.

 

Thanksgiving is one of the better examples of cadet adoption. This year my wonderful parents are managing to fit in seven cadets from both the Coast Guard and the Air Force Academy into their home. Thanksgiving is one of the three holidays I get to see my entire extended family, which can be anywhere from 15 to 30 people at a table. Our family tradition starts with a turkey trot, which I am so excited to share with my friends. My cousin is a Division I runner at U- Albany and one of my Coasties is one of the fastest on our cross country team. My family has a small pool on who will take first. My brother and his Air Force friends will blast past the rest of us, saying something about the air being so much easier to breathe. All that matters is when the last of us cross the finish line, there will be a group of my friends and family in matching Flash t-shirts cheering as hard as they can. Dinner will be similar, with every member cooking something different, from the turkey, (and the backup turkey my Dad got before we left), to my aunt’s corn and saltine chowder, the cadets cleaning all the dishes and chasing the smaller kids around the yard. When we all fight over chairs and couches in my aunt’s living room, there is no difference between my friends and my biological family, they are all just my family.

 

More about Emily Rose.

 

Thanksgiving Away From Home

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo The Coast Guard Academy is a wonderfully diverse collection of people. We have cadets studying here who hail not only from all corners of the United States, but from the globe as well! Unfortunately, that geographic dispersion can make one week of leave in particular a challenge for cadets from faraway places: Thanksgiving. In this month of the Military Family, that pain of being separated from your family, especially during a holiday that is traditionally revered as a celebration of such, is heightened a little bit more. The reality is that many cadets don’t get to travel home for Thanksgiving, simply because they live too far away. And speaking from experience, it is tough to imagine your family sharing that time without you there.

 

And yet, if you were to walk through the halls of Chase during the Thanksgiving holiday, you would hear the cacophonies and chaos of… silence. Not a cadet to be seen. If I’ve just been talking about all of these cadets who can’t go home, why isn’t Chase filled with their presence on that fourth Thursday? Simple. It’s because the military family that we are celebrating this month takes a unique form in the lives of cadets. In fact, you could venture to say a cadet has multiple military families: our own families, then those who have adopted us and care for us over the four years we study here.

 

One example of that latter is the Crabtree family. Carl and Christy are the field leaders for the Officer’s Christian Fellowship chapter at the Academy; and during Thanksgiving, they embrace numerous cadets as part of their own family at their home, Shepherd’s Fold. The house is designed to be a retreat center for OCF, and as such can welcome a plethora of cadets at any time of the year; weekends, holidays, summer trainings. Thanksgiving is a particularly lively time for the household. In the past, Carl and Christy have hosted international cadets from such countries as Rwanda and Honduras, and other cadets whose distance from home precludes travelling back to their families. I’m always amazed at the love they show for all of us here. When I asked Carl about opening up his house, he told me, “My wife and I enjoy the privilege of mentoring cadets and giving them a home away from home. Each Thanksgiving we are blessed to have some cadets that do not journey home.” Read that again: blessed. If you want to talk about a loving adoptive military family…there you have it. It’s incredible to see how close these adoptive families grow to us, and how easily they assume a special spot in your own heart. Lives change because of our adoptive families. I am forever grateful for the love and support of my family back home; but in addition, I realize I’m extremely blessed to have met the families who take me and my classmates under their wings when my parents aren’t right there; people who, just by letting me into their house, have become people I trust and care about. I think Carl hits the nail on the head: “We adopt them for the week and some of those relationships last a lifetime.”

 

More about Abby.

 

With Freedom Comes Responsibility

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Silliman Photo So, at the Academy I see a lot of people struggle with academics. But for me it was different. I really struggled more on the military side of things. I remember entering 4/c year, and completely brain dead from Swab Summer, did not know really what I should do to approach the academic year. This is after being trapped in the unfree environment of Swab Summer for two months, where I was told everything I had to do. I the school year introduced a new set of challenges that I was not use to, and unlike in high school, I struggled to manage my time. I now had to get work done during the day as I did not have as much free time in the evenings. I now had to balance academic work with military responsibilities as well as the basic living responsibilities my parents took care of for me. What helped me get through my first semester as a fourth class was having a good set of leaders who helped me develop into a more effective follower.

 

The second semester was different. I had to find leadership outside of my immediate superiors for guidance. Probably the big thing I learned second semester at the Academy was that here people are surrounded by good leadership, so if someone is not getting the guidance they are looking for from their immediate superiors, there are plenty of other people they can turn to.

 

I also learned a lot about the type of leader I want to be, and I think it is important to understand that while leaders have expectations of their followers, followers also have expectations of their leaders. If people care about their followers, I feel it is important to care about what their followers think of them. Coming out of fourth class year and a great summer at both a cutter and a station, I felt in order for leaders to earn the trust and respect of their followers, they have to be observant of the personal challenges and obstacles their followers face beyond what they immediately see.

 

I have two fourth class of my own now that I am in charge of, and probably the greatest privilege that comes with 3/c year is that now I am in charge of someone else. But this is not just a privilege, it is my greatest responsibility. I think it is very easy, in the chaos of everything, to see how lucky my shipmates and I are to be here, but I feel now that I have made it this far, it is so much easier to remember how fortunate we are.

 

More about Derek.

 

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.

 

Looking Forward, Living in the Moment

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Glick Photo Well, it’s 238 days until graduation! I can’t believe how fast time is flying by this semester—it’s almost October. I am looking forward to the changing seasons, New England cider, sweater weather, and foliage here at the CGA.

 

This semester I am finally taking electives, including Managerial Psychology, Negotiations and Conflict Management, and Information Technology in Organizations. Soon, we will be receiving our capstone projects for the management major, which is another milestone toward graduation. Commissioning physical exams, final papers, capstone, it’s all coming together here, and before we know it, we will be ensigns! Having said that, it is still important to live in the moment and enjoy the rest of the Academy—this is the last time that our class will be together all at once.

 

Lately, I’ve been getting involved in my local church off-base, and I’ve really been enjoying it. I am participating in bible study on Monday nights, and meeting with the Navy Chaplain across the river that is the same denomination as me. I sure do miss Chaplain Dickens, but I’m still learning more about the Christian faith and United Methodist polity through my local church. I can definitely see myself becoming a part of the local United Methodist church regardless of where I go next year.

 

I’m also taking Advanced Golf for my physical education elective, and I golf a couple of times per week. Golf is a game that you can never master, but it is certainly great to be outside with friends enjoying the New England fall weather. If anything, it has taught me patience and persistence. It’s finally becoming real for me, graduating that is, and it is unbelievable that the shopping list, or list of ensign assignments, will be available in November. This is when the Class of 2017 puts down our choice assignments, and right now I’m thinking of a fast response cutter on the East Coast.

 

More about William.