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cadet blogs

A Semester at Naval Academy

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Engelhardt Photo Greetings and Happy New Year! I apologize for the large time gap between my blogs, but I got tied up with school work, extracurricular activities, and general life at the Naval Academy. As I begin my spring semester again back at my home Academy, I thought that it was only fitting that I reflect on my time in Annapolis, and offer some quick differences and similarities between the two academies that I have had the privilege to attend.

 

As mentioned in my August 2014 blog, I can’t state enough how welcoming the Brigade of Midshipmen at the Naval Academy was, and especially 16th Company. They accepted a new classmate with open arms and were quick to make me part of their daily lives, which I am extremely grateful for. I truly think that the connections that I made at USNA are as deep as the connections that I have made with some of my classmates here at CGA, and I don’t think that it is over-exaggerated to say that I have made several lifelong friends.

 

It’s amazing how similar life at the two academies is – they truly are closer to being the same than they are different. Both schools are obviously military, so they have similar things that come with that – formations, mandatory trainings and classes, inspections, military drill and reviews, etc. They also have similar restrictions on your personal life such as limited times that you can leave the campus. Both schools also put a strong emphasis on sports and physical fitness, and emphasis that is rarely found at any civilian college. They both also both foster strong friendships between classmates and are home to truly outstanding people.

 

However, for all the things that the academies do have in common, they also have several differences. Most of the differences I feel are brought about because of the different sizes and locations of the schools.

 

The Naval Academy is approximately four times larger in size, and with that size comes opportunities in academics and the community that I feel that the Coast Guard Academy cannot replicate. As example, it’s hard for us to go directly to medical school out of CGA, which is possible at Navy, because we are needed immediately in the Coast Guard fleet. The size also helps the Naval Academy have a larger presence in the surrounding community. However, a benefit of the Coast Guard Academy’s smaller size is that it allows you to truly know all your classmates, which is impossible at Navy. I feel that having stronger bonds with your classmates is one of the things I truly like about the Coast Guard Academy as compared to Navy.

 

The Naval Academy’s location in Annapolis, located less than an hour away from our nation’s capital, creates an influx of visitors, both civilian and military, that is unheard of at the Coast Guard Academy. There are multiple tourist groups that tour the Yard in Annapolis daily, while at the CGA there might be an occasional tour group once every couple of weeks. Additionally, it is a lot easier for higher level military officials to make the trip from D.C. to Annapolis than the sojourn up to New London, and for that reason you see more brass at Navy as compared to Coast Guard.

 

Overall, I really enjoyed my time at Navy. It was great to get a different perspective on the military and Academy life that would not have been offered to me if I did not take the opportunity. I will not soon forget marching on at the Army-Navy football game, dining out with 16th Company, nor the outstanding professors and friends that I made. That being said, I know in my heart that CGA is the school for me, and the Coast Guard is the military branch for me. Despite the colder weather, I am definitely happy to be among my classmates and friends back in New London this spring. As always, if you have any questions about the Coast Guard Academy, the Coast Guard, the military, or any other subject that you would value my insight, I invite you to email me at James.D.Engelhardt@uscga.edu. Until next time, Semper Paratus and Go Bears!

 

More about James.

 

Unforgettable Moments

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Martorell Crespo Photo My cadet experience has been really nice. It has been a fun and exciting experience. Being here at the Academy is something unique and cadets have unforgettable moments. On the weekends, we have leave Saturday afternoon and return at midnight and Sundays, we leave in the morning and return at 1800. Being out of Chase Hall is something nice and you get to relax outside for a little bit with your friends. I usually hang out with my friends or see my sister when she comes from West Point to visit me.

 

Also, we had a ballroom dance and it was something enjoyable to experience for the first time being a fourth class. You go with your date or with your friends, dance and have a great time! You get full carry on and as a fourth class you are just happier than ever! So far, my cadet experience has been about fun, academics, and unforgettable moments. Starting from the very first day as a fourth class and until now, it has been something I will never forget.

 

More about Irene.

 

The Academy Summer Experience

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Seaman Photo One of the main things that attracted me to the Academy was the summer experiences cadets have. Unlike most other colleges, the Coast Guard Academy allows cadets to work in the operational Coast Guard by sending them to cutters, small boat stations, and air stations depending on which class you are. For the first part of this summer, I worked at a small boat station in Fort Lauderdale for five weeks. This experience was extremely rewarding and it served as a great transition from 4/c to 3/c year. Station Fort Lauderdale opened my eyes to a part of the Coast Guard that I had not been exposed to yet. I learned about the station’s responsibilities and daily routines and was able to contribute by earning qualifications. Along with achieving a communications qualification and making ground in becoming a boat crew member, my classmates who were with me and I were exposed to even more experiences the Coast Guard has to offer. We shot pistol, learned defense tactics, and even got getting pepper sprayed out of the way. These involvements taught me a lot about ways I can improve because it is impossible to be perfect one hundred percent of the time. It also boosted my confidence by giving me valuable interactions with Coast Guard members.

 

Since the main goal of this summer is to learn the junior enlisted member’s role in the Coast Guard, I spent time getting to know the crew members and engaging in the work they do on a daily basis. I observed that their role in carrying out the mission is huge, thus teaching me to value and respect the hard work of everyone. This summer was informative and a blast. I am grateful for the experience I gained and the preparation it gave me in becoming a 3/c cadet.

 

More about Rachel.

 

New Semester, More Responsibility

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Stowes Photo Happy New Year, CGA blog readers! I hope you all had a great time celebrating the arrival of 2015, because I certainly did. I hope 2015 will be the best year yet. For me, it means in just a year and a few months, I will be graduating this fine institution. I am incredibly excited to get going this semester. Usually I am apprehensive coming back from leave or summer, but this semester I was excited to come back.

 

The week we come back from winter leave is called the Midyear Administrative Processing week (MAP week for short). We all get new roommates and move everything we own into new rooms. Usually, MAP week is pretty relaxed. We have all sorts of trainings to go to, but without the pressure of academics, MAP week is a breeze. For me, this MAP week has been very busy. In addition to all the trainings and the fitness test, I have a lot of extra responsibility this semester because I will be a guidon.

 

A guidon is the lead second class in each company. We are expected to be the standard for military excellence, and our primary responsibility is to train and supervise the fourth class for the whole semester. As a guidon, I have a lot of responsibility, but I also have a lot of flexibility to do what I want to train the fourth class in the most effective manner. I have wanted to be a guidon since I was a fourth class because I have always endeavored to better myself and to pursue leadership opportunities. As a leader, I take my responsibility very seriously, and I approach every opportunity to lead with an open mind to change. I take great care to ensure that I balance the demands I place on my subordinates. The mission, to effectively train the fourth class, must be balanced with taking care of them as people. Guidons can be known for making the fourth class’ lives much more difficult, but I strive to make their lives more enjoyable. I plan to motive them to do their jobs because they see the value in doing it for themselves. I will use every tool I have to motivate them, but I plan to use rewards and recognition of good performance as the primary tools to encourage them to be the best that they can be.

 

Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible for me to tell you everything I have to as a guidon. However, if you are the parent of a fourth class, or if you know one, I can assure you that I will take good care of them. I have put in hours of work every night this week to organize and think up ideas to train these cadets. All of the guidons here care about the fourth class, and we are working hard to transform them into better cadets, people, and future officers.

 

If you want to know more about MAP week and the trainings, or about what I am asked to do as guidon, please feel free to email me anytime at Hunter.D.Stowes@uscga.edu. Happy New Year! Go 2015! I hope to hear from you soon.

 

More about Hunter.

 

And We’re Back!

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Corbett Photo Yes ladies and gentleman of the interweb the corps has returned in its entirety this week from our interim winter break. This time of year can be bleak as the days grow short. I notice this mainly because I hear the sound of evening colors from my room go off sooner and sooner with each passing day. These darkening days can cause bleakness among the corps due to the latter mentioned darkness in addition with the bitterness of the winter air. But there is a light!

 

You see, a revelation has happened here at the Academy. Upon returning, the class of 2017, my class, is faced with looking ahead. We are already being trained for, and talked to about, the impending summer, which is supposedly our most important summer, so I am told… I guess this makes sense as this summer we are no longer under-class, but just not upper-class. We are thrown into the fire and allowed to orchestrate out a leadership style of our own to be implemented on the incoming class. Now the question rests on my mind…how do I lead the incoming class?

 

Until now, I haven’t given leadership much thought. I, more or less, just do rather than stop and talk about the “what” and “why” of my doings. Lately, however, I have come to a keen understanding that developing my leadership is important to not only this summer, but to myself. I owe it to myself to take the time to really learn the “what” and “why”. That way, when I first lay eyes on the swabs I will know exactly how to handle them.

 

With that I have started developing a leadership philosophy so let me know if I have gone off the tracks here. Through my own experience, observations, and readings this is the down and dirty of what I believe. My two cents if you will.
 

  1. Influence vs. Power: You can have all the positional power in the world, but you will never be as strong a leader as the person who has the most influence. If people feel some divine desire to do what you ask rather than a nagging need to, you will succeed more often than the one who relies on position.
  2. Punishment vs. Reward: Swab Summer, time to yell and do push ups right? Sure, but in good measure. When punishment or reward is abused and out of balance, no growth is made. It all becomes routine, finding the balance between the two will have much more of an impact than doing countless push ups.
  3. Resource vs. Boss: Lastly is this idea of being a resource. As a leader, it can be more beneficial to be seen as a colleague or resource. You should be guiding people in the right direction by feeding them information and wisdom. Then they can function autonomously. If you act as a “do what I say” or “boss” type leader, people will not have as much respect for you and will not feel a part of the team.

 

That is just the down and dirty of my beliefs. If you are a team captain or are looking for a leadership position and want to talk to someone just shoot me an email! Or if you have questions on anything about the Academy please don’t hesitate!

Have an American day,
Shane Corbett
Shane.P.Corbett@uscga.edu 

 

More about Shane.