Happy May! Another written blog (lately I’ve been so busy running around that I haven’t had time to make a video blog…though several are in the making) before I head out for the summer—I promise to put up some exciting stuff from my travels in the Pacific. I’ll try to check in this summer, too.
The reason for this post, however, aside from wanting to post something, is that I have come to understand what the Academy means to me and want to share that here. Having completed three years of the Academy, I have struggled this past semester to stay focused on the task at hand. I am ready to head out into the fleet—I so desperately want to be part of this great organization that I have joined. There were several times this semester, when classes and things in Chase Hall (our barracks) were frustrating me, that I was concerned about how I would make it through yet another year. (The funny thing is that the same thing happened to me at the end of my junior year in high school).
This past semester I applied and interviewed for the position of regimental commander (RC), the leading cadet in the Corps of Cadets. (Spoiler: I did not get the position for the fall, but the lessons I learned from the application process were invaluable). This process lasted practically all semester; through the entire time, I was developing my leadership philosophy and command strategy. Additionally, I was studying the command philosophies of the Academy’s senior leadership so as to align my leadership plans as RC with theirs—what were the common goals that we could work together to accomplish—I was learning how to actually incorporate the leadership models we’d discussed in our organizational leadership class, and I was working with mentors to build and improve my ideas. Looking back, I realize that as a developing leader—because that is what we are here at the Academy—this past semester has taught me so much about myself, both personally and professionally, and about being a leader within an organization. Most importantly, I realized why I should look forward to my final two semesters here: I will have another year to practice and improve my leadership skills by implementing new leadership theories and practices into my everyday interactions with those around me. Of course this will still continue once I get to the fleet, but, at least for the first few years, a great deal of my energy will be focused on learning all the technical skills and becoming proficient in Coast Guard personnel and asset management. My leadership skills should have a strong foundational base upon which I can draw instead of having to learn this once I reach the fleet. By now I am comfortable in the strenuous academic environment of the Academy so I can spend this next year focusing on leadership.
When I think about why I wanted to come to the Academy, I told people one reason was that I wished to have a unique undergraduate experience and the “Academy” came first, then “Coast Guard” (since there were so many other ways to join the Coast Guard and become an officer). The funny thing is that I didn’t know what that “unique undergraduate experience” was, what it would look like. I realized lately that the additional element of learning leadership is what makes this place so special to me. I could have attended another university and been equally as satisfied with the academics and extracurricular opportunities. I don’t think other colleges could have provided a leadership development crucible as valuable as the one presented to us here.
Learning Leadership at the Academy (Continued)
More about Justin.