First off, it’s crazy to think that only 7 months ago I was eagerly waiting for Swearing-In Day. On and before that day, I was so scared for what was to come. I didn’t sleep for weeks leading up to the day. I had been preparing for Swab Summer since I decided I wanted to attend the Academy months after my AIM experience.
My Coast Guard Academy experience began with attending AIM the summer after my junior year of high school. Growing up, I never had a dream college or a specific career path. Both my parents and brother followed three completely different career paths. My father was enlisted in the Army and spoke fondly of the memories and experience, so I decided to entertain the possibility of being in the military. I applied to AIM to gain a realistic experience of attending a military academy, because I read that AIM was most similar to Swab Summer. AIM was a whirlwind, and I don’t remember much of my experience, besides that when it was over, I wanted to leave the Academy as soon as possible. Directly following AIM, I honestly didn’t want to come back. However, months after, when college applications started, I thought about my experience. I remembered that I asked my cadre about their AIM experience, and one cadre responded, “I didn’t want to come to the Academy at all after AIM, but I realized how much it challenged me and I wanted to see how far I could push myself.” I resonated with this perspective fully. I remembered my experience, how different it was than anything else I’d ever done, and how much I learned about the Coast Guard and Academy. I also realized how much I grew as a person, absolutely cherishing the experience, and I wanted to see how much further I could grow. Also, I knew the Coast Guard offered a cool opportunity to travel the world and I know I want to eventually go to graduate school, which is possible in the Coast Guard.
I knew that I had to attend the Academy.
I carried the same mindset through Swab Summer and first semester, and I am so glad I did. Swab Summer was also a whirlwind, and looking back, I only remember the good memories and funny stories. I was infinitely grateful for all the pushups I did as a kid, which was every time I got in trouble (thanks Dad). While I thought the most challenging part of Swab Summer would be physical, for me personally, it turned out to be one of the most mentally challenging experiences and my perspective of challenging myself was one of the key factors that carried me through. Similarly, there are difficult and stressful days during first semester, but keeping this positive mindset serves to remind me one of the reasons why I am and continue to want to be here.
There’s a common saying, “life is what you make it,” which holds true at CGA also. You can absolutely grow in only 7 months, and I can’t wait to see how much I can grow in the remaining 3.5 years.
Please feel free to contact me at Montgomery.C.Rickey@uscga.edu if you have any questions regarding Swab Summer, 4/c year, or anything else involving the Academy!