Describe your initial impression of AIM in five words or less.
Stressful, chaotic, and disorienting.
Did all your physical fitness preparation pay off?
Yes, it did. I feel that I performed well on the PFE and could keep up with all the physical requirements that were asked of me. It made this week a little bit easier not having to worry or struggle to keep up these physical aspects of the program.
What was the most interesting thing you learned about the Academy that you didn’t already know?
I learned how much the Academy really transforms a person during Swab Summer. They take a group of kids from all over the world, with all types of backgrounds and change their worlds completely. This group is supposed to eat differently, talk differently. They have to sound-off and keep their eyes in the boat, all small things that make them more into a team and a unit.
What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge for me was waking up early in the morning and going right into the fast-paced day from there. The biggest thing that got me through this was knowing I could fall back on my roommates and my shipmates in my platoon. I never wanted to let them down, so every day I was getting up for them. Having that thought in my head helped me get through those early times of the day.
Looking back, would you have done anything different to prepare yourself for AIM?
I felt that I was pretty well prepared, but the one thing that I would have done was start memorizing the Coast Guard Academy mission and Ethos, so that I would have had more time learning them as well as the other things we needed to memorize.
What surprised you the most about AIM?
I think what surprised me the most is that the cadre were just normal cadets and normal people. The first couple of days, all you get from your cadre is them yelling in your face or yelling at your shipmates, but after those first couple days, they show more of themselves, and their experiences at the Academy. You can see that all their yelling and pressure is just so you as an AIMster can be successful.
How was your connection with the other AIMsters?
I felt a connection immediately. While we were waiting in the auditorium before the program started and before our cadre came to pick us up, I already felt like we had something in common. We were all nervous about this week and we were all interested in the Coast Guard Academy. That connection only strengthened throughout the week as we all had to deal with being yelled at, taking 15-minute showers together, and the tiring things that were asked of us. By the end, I felt that we had spent more than a week together and we all made sure that we had each other’s contact information going forward.
Can you identify a noticeable difference in yourself after attending AIM? If so, what?
I think the biggest thing that I notice different about myself is how set I am on attending the Academy. AIM not only showed me the hardships Swabs endure during their Swab Summer, but also how team oriented the Academy is. I learned about the academics, the summer programs, and all the Academy has for its cadets, and not only things like a top-notch education and career, but an experience that you can get nowhere else.
Would you recommend attending AIM? Why?
Yes, 100%. For me, it sealed the deal on wanting to attend the Academy. I know for sure that this is where I want to go to college, and this is a great fit for me. Even for the AIMsters walking away from AIM knowing that the Academy is not the right place for them, they can walk away knowing that they tried something new, learned valuable lessons, and can make a more informed decision on the colleges they want to attend. For those who want to attend the Academy after AIM, for those that don’t, and for those that are on the fence, they all walk away with a memorable experience they will never forget.