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cadet blogs

First Phase: Eagle

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Eshleman Photo The first phase of my 1/c summer has come and gone in the blink of an eye. I am sitting in the airport preparing to head out to Sector San Francisco after spending the first five weeks on USCGC Eagle. Eagle was a phenomenal experience. It is my third time being on board and honestly it keeps getting better every time I return. I chose to go for the engineering qualifications, as opposed to deck watch, and got qualified as an oiler and then an Engineering Officer of the Watch (EOW). This meant that I went on rounds of all the spaces throughout the ship to check on the various systems, did rounds in the engine room, and learned how to do all the collaterals for each. I also learned how to parallel generators, flush a reverse osmosis system, cross-connect different systems, and so much more. The crew on board are experts in their specialties and were so willing to teach cadets and help us learn more about actual applicable engineering skills.

 

Getting to stand watches for the crew made me feel like a valuable member on board, and while I am excited to see what this next phase brings I will miss being underway and being in an engine room. I am hoping to get to see some of the cutters out of San Francisco and nearby locations. Northern California is full of Coasties which means reuniting with classmates and alumni that recently graduated. I am also looking forward to spending time with my grandparents who live nearby. Overall, firstie summer has been eye-opening and makes me realize how thrilled I am to hopefully become a student engineer next year as an ensign.

 

More about Hannah.

 

Marine Safety Training

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Friedman Photo During 2/c summer, cadets participate in a variety of programs to aid in our professional development. As part of this, cadets are scheduled for aviation training but have the option to trade it out for marine safety program at Coast Guard sectors across the country or naval engineering at the Coast Guard Yard. I worked with the command at my station last summer and was able to go to an air station for a day and shadow the pilots there. While I had a great time, I know that I don’t want to be pilot so I opted to do the Marine Safety Training Program this summer in lieu of the aviation training.

 

A classmate and I were sent to Sector Maryland - National Capital Region to work in their prevention office. We were able to observe domestic inspections, which are conducted on all qualifying U.S. flagged vessels. We were also able to participate in a multi-agency strike force operation (MASFO) for the Port of Baltimore. Working with counterparts from other agencies including Customs and Border Protection, the harbor police, Department of Transportation investigators, and multiple others, we searched containers departing and entering the United States on cargo vessels to fight against drug smuggling, human trafficking, and assure the containers were stable for sea to facilitate a safe transit. Later that week, we were able to observe a port state inspection, which is an inspection conducted on foreign vessels entering the U.S. We inspected a coal tanker after it completed its first ever transit.

 

The best part the experience was the crew from the prevention department. Everyone we worked with was welcoming, passionate about prevention, and willing to teach us about their work. We had a great time working with them and learning about possible career tracks in the Coast Guard.

 

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at Jill.M.Friedman@uscga.edu.

 

More about Jill.

 

Becoming a Junior Officer

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Holland Photo Hey everyone,

 

It's been a long time since I posted one of these, but I had the time to do so today. As a firstie in the fleet, you get treated a lot like a junior officer, which is critical to your development at the Academy because once this next school year is up, you're an ensign. (That's a scary thought.) I'm currently aboard USCGC Forward on patrol, and it is incredible. The summers are when you realize that everything you work toward at the Academy is worth it, and is very real and close. I'm not 100% sure what I want to do when I graduate, but there are no bad billets in the Coast Guard. (No other service can say that.)

 

For those of you considering joining the Coast Guard, I think that the Coast Guard can best be equated to a family. We are a small service and because of that you gain a reputation among your peers very quickly. In other services, it is easy to get lost in the crowd; however, in the Coast Guard you will know someone at nearly every single unit. It's definitely an incentive to stay on top of your stuff and to always treat others how you would like to be treated. The next part of this summer, I will be the Battalion AIM Officer. I'll be in charge of the Coast Guard's program that educates high school seniors as to what it is we do here at the Academy. I'm very excited to get the opportunity to assist the Class of 2019 in the training and mentoring of future members of the class of 2022. My little sister also reports to the Academy this summer, which will be a lot of fun (for me). I'll update later but, until then, everyone be safe and make good decisions.

 

More about Taylor.

 

Advice for 2021 and 2022

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Purrington Photo Wow. It’s been too long since I sat down and blogged. Life here really flies by.

 

Cadet for a Day season is upon us again! (This is a program that invites prospective cadets to tour the Academy with a cadet for an entire day in order to see what USCGA is like before coming here.) Seeing all these young men and women has made me think about how useful I found the blogs when I was in high school, which reminded me I should blog, which made me think of a few things I have to pass on to all ye prospective cadets.

 

Class of 2021 

 

  • It’s gonna be hard. It’s different as your support system is ripped out from under you, everything is new and exciting and kind of frightening and you can’t even look around. It’s worth it and it will get better. Swab Summer feels like an eternity but try to remember what a small portion of the Academy experience it is. You will wake up some mornings and want to leave. Don’t. You made it in and you’re tough enough to handle this place.

  • You may not see it but your cadre cares. You matter to them. They love their jobs passionately and training you is their job. They will not baby you and they will not make it easy, but they will be rooting for you even when it seems like they’re not. 2019 is full of some of the most awesome, dedicated people who cannot wait to make you all great shipmates.

  • Do your job. There will be mornings, even during the school year, that you’ll be so tired you won’t want to get out of bed or be able to remember how excited you were to get to come here. It sucks. Get up anyway, square your corners, do your job and do it with as much fake enthusiasm as you can. Fake it until you become it; I’ve found that if you do that, usually, by the end of breakfast, you feel eight million times better. If you can pretend you’re doing great, even when you feel awful, more likely than not some upperclassman will say or do something that makes you feel less like dirt. From personal experience, I can tell you that without fail, every time I am struggling and nothing seems to be going right, someone from my company does or says something – and it could be as small as greeting me by name in the passageway – that helps turn my day around. Make it easy for your shipmates to do this for you; do your job and fake it ‘til you become it.

  • Start getting ready physically for Swab Summer and have fun with your family and friends. I think particularly for those of us who do not live in New England, the last time you will ever get to spend a good amount of quality time with your friends and family is before you report in. Hang out with your friends, but also hang out with your family. I know it may not seem like the coolest thing to do, but especially if you have siblings at home, this is the last time you may ever get to spend a lot of time with them and likely the last few months you’ll ever live together. Go see a few movies together, go to the beach (when it gets warmer!), or an amusement park, or see a concert. Make some good memories and take some pictures while you’re doing so.

 

Class of 2022 (AIMsters) 

 

  • Get to know your cadre. They’re scary. I was an AIMster too, trust me, I know. I was terrified of my AIM cadre, but it’s worth getting to know them and staying connected with them. This year, I was lucky enough to be in the same company I was in for AIM. Last semester, my division officer was my AIM division officer. I was fortunate that he remembered me because I didn’t make any effort to stay in contact with him or any of my other AIM cadre. I wish I had. They’re awesome people and they were rooting for me all the way. My fall division officer is easily one of best leaders I have ever had the pleasure of working for and he will be an amazing officer come May. I got lucky being in his division as well as being in Bravo for AIM and 4/c year because otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten to know the amazing firsties who were my AIM cadre. Don’t leave that to chance like I did, stay connected with them after AIM.

 

Anyway, hope you guys found something useful that you could take away from this post. As always, feel free to email me with any questions!

 

4/c Darden Purrington
Kathlene.D.Purrington@uscga.edu

 

More about Darden.

 

Swab Summer Etiquette

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Chang Photo To the incoming Class of 2021,

 

Congrats! This message will be starkly different from the one your cadre will give you, but either way we’re all super excited to meet you. Around this time of year, three years ago, I remember watching Swab Summer videos on YouTube and scouring the blogs for little tips and tricks for guidance. I’m not going to give anything away, because that would take the fun out of it, but here are the basics of what I guess you could call “Swab Summer etiquette.”

 

1. Share your food: Everyone’s hungry, and an extra bite can really make someone’s day. I remember my friends getting massive care packages loaded with candy, homemade cookies, and granola bars. You really bond with people over a snack and a chat.

 

2. Hygiene: Yes, it’s hard to be clean when you barely have time to brush your teeth, but please, shower. Figure out a system that works for you, because the one of the worst things about Swab Summer is the smell. Even a dab of hand sanitizer goes a long way.

 

3. Homesickness: It’s perfectly normal to be homesick, but I’m not going to sugarcoat this next part. You’re in the military now, and you need to suck it up. If you’re not used to being away from home, Swab Summer will probably amplify feelings of homesickness. Even after a year at prep school, I teared up a little when I got a letter from my mum. Regardless, you have larger things to focus on and sometimes pushing aside these feelings is necessary.

 

During Swab Summer, happiness is scarce and it’s easy to fall into a pit of discouragement. Oftentimes you’re not allowed to show any emotion, but that’s all a part of training to have a proper military bearing. However, when you reflect on your day, try to find at least one good thing you did. It doesn’t have to entail answering a question correctly or having a decent uniform, but maybe you helped your homesick shipmate or had a mini snack-party in your room. Finally, regardless of what light your cadre will see you in, your classmates will remember you the most vividly. I cannot stress enough the importance of helping each other and not being a jerk. People remember the most random things and we all have our bad moments, but don’t let that get in the way of being a decent person.

 

That’s all for now, good luck and see you in August!

 

Very respectfully,
1/c Olivia Chang

 

More about Olivia.