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Giving Thanks for Friends

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Ritchie Photo As Thanksgiving Leave approaches, it is the perfect time to reflect on what we are thankful for. The other day, I was asked to say the thing I was most thankful for this year. There were many things I could have answered. I could have said that I am thankful for the opportunities I’ve had this past year including sailing to the Caribbean and working in the Coast Guard fleet for six weeks, or for having job security and no college debt in the future, or for being able to earn good grades this semester, or for the endless support from my family, or for everything I’ve learned this past year. The list goes on because there is so much to be thankful for each and every day. Right now, though, I am most thankful for the new friends I’ve made at the Academy.

 

It amazes me how close I have become with people I’ve known for just over a year. I feel like I’ve known my three best Academy friends for my entire life. I could trust them with anything. Maybe it comes with living in the same building and happens at every college, but I think it’s a little different here. At the Academy, cadets all face the same challenges that people our age normally don’t have to face. It’s the things like not having cars and having specific liberty hours that give us a different kind of bond. Instead of being designated drivers for each other, we walk around aimlessly together, visit each other’s rooms, and ride the liberty bus together. Like other college students, we’ve helped each other through our worst times, but unlike normal college students, by worst, I don’t mean drunk and out of control. I mean stressed out, struggling to stay awake at a 7 a.m. training after a long night of homework and only 30 minutes of sleep.

 

The challenges the Academy provides us strengthen our friendships the way no other school can. My friends here are the only ones who completely understand what I’m going through, and sometimes, they are the only ones I can go to because of that. No matter how many stories I tell my family and friends from home, I know they will never comprehend my new lifestyle the way my friends here can. This new network of support not only gets me through every challenge here, but it makes it so much more fun. This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for all the laughs, memories, and support that my friends have given me this past year and for being able to grow and learn through this Academy life together.

 

More about Sarah.

 

San Diego: Boats and Surfing

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Dahill-Baue Photo As the days grow shorter and darker, I have been reflecting a lot on the summer….

 

This past summer was one of the best summers of my life. I started my summer by reporting to the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Barque Eagle here in New London, Connecticut. Eagle was fun, but hard work. I loved climbing in the rigging, and had a lot of fun at our port calls in Puerto Rico, Aruba, and Cozumel.

 

However, the highlight of my summer was working at the Coast Guard Station in San Diego, California for the second half of my summer. I was stationed there with my friend, 3/c Carlie Gilligan, and we worked toward getting qualified as a member of the boat crew and our pepper spray qualification (yes, you get sprayed point-blank with military-grade pepper spray and then you have to fight someone off and gain control of the situation while your eyes are on fire). The boat crew qualification was a lot of hard work, encompassing everything from learning how to drive the boats to first aid.

 

However, it wasn’t all work all the time. We worked two days on, and then would have two days completely off, so Carlie and I got in a lot of surfing, beach time, Padres games, and adventuring.

 

On days we could leave early from the station, the typical day looked like this:

 

0645: Rise and shine!

 

0700: Breakfast in the galley

 

0800: Workday begins

 

0800-1045: Cleaning boats, working toward qualifications

 

1045-1230: Lunch, working out, relaxing

 

1230-1400: More cleaning boats, working toward qualifications, going out in the boats, having fun

 

1500: Leave base, drive to pick up fellow 3/c stationed on USCGC Boutwell, also in San Diego

 

1600-1900: Surfing in Coronado

 

2000: Mexican food dinner in Downtown San Diego

 

2200: Back on Base, hanging out, ready to repeat!

 

Overall, it was an AWESOME summer!

 

More about Clara.

 

A Month of Change

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Glick Photo This month for me is a month of change. People grow apart, friends and significant others go separate ways, and new friends are made. 3/c year is a time of change, as the seasons change with us. I recently changed my major to Management from Government, and I am excited to start learning about something I know nothing about. I am making new friends, leaving some behind, and learning a lot about myself. A 3/c cadet is a 4/c cadet who can look around. I’ve been looking around a lot, and taking in the Academy, and my perspective is a lot different than last year. As a 3/c, you see everything that’s right with this place, and the few things that should be improved. I am going to church more often, finding meaning in life, and looking forward to the rewards of 2/c summer. I am rehashing out who I am, learning what I like, and learning what I don’t like, but I am still the same person. I am still active with cadet bands, and my brass band is playing at this year’s winter formal in the wardroom. I am helping my 4/c through the semester, and I am thinking about going out for leadership positions next year after interacting with the 4/c in my company. I was also recently selected to study in Poland this summer with the American Service Academy Program through the Jewish Heritage Museum. Through countless essays, an online application, and weeks of waiting, I was accepted to study the Holocaust in New York, Washington, and in Poland at Auschwitz-Birkenau. It will be a moving experience, but I am certain that I will learn a lot about myself and about the history of the Holocaust.

 

This semester is very busy, and it is a mad race to Thanksgiving. After Thanksgiving, there are only a few weeks of school, then finals followed by winter leave. This semester is one I am trying to get through doing my best.

 

More about Will.

 

All Grown Up

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Wu Photo So far this semester, I have watched the Class of 2015, my class, lead the Corps of Cadets. It has been a pleasant surprise watching my class lead with maturity. Especially this semester, I am really happy to be a part of the Class of 2015 and seeing a lot of my classmates lead with compassion for others.

 

I remember back in 4/c year, my class was struggling and the command had very mixed feelings about us. However, throughout the years we have really grown and taken to heart the good and bad leadership styles of the classes of 2012, 2013, and 2014. I am so happy and impressed with the way my classmates are treating underclassmen. It was very rewarding to hear the 4/c in Alfa Company feel welcomed and accepted by the 1/c after we returned for the start of the academic semester.

 

Also, being a part of the Cadet Honor Board, a panel that reviews honor incidents, I have seen my classmates approach an Honor Board with a stern, but very fair demeanor. During the Honor Board, members of the board address the incident, stating the facts and then questioning the cadets involved in the situation. In the past, I have heard of Cadet Honor Boards going very poorly where members of the board went beyond questioning about the investigation and were more personal and opinionated. I liked being part of the Honor Board and seeing my classmates conduct the Board very objectively. A lot of the questions that were asked were for the purpose of understanding the situation better and have a better grasp of the investigation beyond the facts on paper.

 

It has also been really nice to get to know the underclassmen and really invest in conversations while trying to remember what it was like to be in their shoes. Currently, my company has started a 1/c to 4/c mentoring program where 4/c choose a mentor and make that connection with a specific 1/c. I am very excited to be in the program and be a mentor to a 4/c.

 

I am really glad my class is putting in the effort and making the relationship with the underclassmen. It is nice seeing the Corps of Cadets more unified this semester. I hope this carries through to the next semester and that our leadership style will be a good one to model after.

 

More about Ellie.

 

Medallions, Colors, and Perfect Water

(Athletics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Kukich Photo While the Regimental Review for Homecoming Weekend and the football game the following Saturday afternoon have always been mandatory for cadets, this was the first Homecoming at the Academy that meant anything to me. It seemed like everyone was excited to see their older brother or parent that weekend; the alumni parked literally everywhere on campus Friday morning, including outside of our windows in the quad. Classes and trainings continued as scheduled, with one modification for the Medallion Ceremony to be held in the late afternoon.

 

Every year the class celebrating their 50th reunion from the Academy is invited to return, specially for participation in the Medallion Ceremony. The Commandant of the Coast Guard is aided by three cadets, from Delta Company (the best company), in honoring each alumni with a medallion around their neck as their name and highest rank attained is read off by a senior cadet in the gymnasium. Surrounding the alumni, who sit on the court, in the bleachers as a Corps of Cadets is a powerful atmosphere in itself, but not the most personal. For me to feel connected to the events of Homecoming I needed more.

 

This year after assisting the Color Guard present the colors at the Regimental Review and Medallion Ceremony, I headed down to the boathouse for crew practice. Being a Friday and pretty late already around 5 p.m., I decided to go out on the water as soon as possible. Without waiting for my teammates I paddled down to Jacob’s Rock, about 300 meters, in my single rowing shell. Not far from shore I could hear alumni joining the women’s soccer team on the field, saw the lights illuminating the football field, and again, found cars scattered in every possible place around campus. Yet, there I was alone on the water with what felt like no connection to any of those cars or people.

 

Listening to evening colors as the sun set at both the Coast Guard Academy and Naval Sub Base New London on the water rowing back to the dock is always breathtaking. The sounds echo from both sides of the river and on a clear night, the complete silence when the music stops seems to linger just long enough. On this night, however, the puttering burp of an engine filled that silence, along with the brushing of oars other than my own against the dock. Catching the gaze of the five men sitting in a boat across the dock was just what I needed for Homecoming to mean something. The tired looks of men who wrestled with calculus, stood years of midwatch, and had time to start families stared at me, who at twenty was exhausted from a paddle. One of them asked if it was a good row. “Yes, the water was perfect” was my response.

 

At the end of this year’s Homecoming Weekend I chose to reflect on the exchange with an alumni crew who still mustered the energy for a row. There were many reminders that there are thousands who have graduated before us, who wear medallions, and observe colors. Being tired is not a valid excuse not to care. It is a reason to keep searching and eventually, somehow find the perfect water.

 

More about Sarah.