Right now I’m on a train heading from the Academy back home to Cape May, New Jersey. I am excited to begin spring break after an arduous first half of the semester. Classes are going well, I’ve started a new fitness plan and my shipmates and I have been having more and more fun as it (slowly) gets warmer.
The past two weeks have been non-stop, with late nights, which usually is not the case for me. The last few weeks have been jam packed with a Model UN conference at USMA West Point, a band concert at Connecticut College across the street, International Ballroom Dance (who would have guessed that?!?), Cadets Against Sexual Assault trainings and meetings, recruiting leave, and a community service trip to Key West Florida. Of course, I need to keep up on my school work to participate in all of these events, as well as ensuring that I continue to adhere to military obligations such as trainings, my midterm Cadet Evaluation Report, community service requirements, and division work. Somehow, it all gets itself all done by 11:30 p.m.! Sometimes I groan, but I wouldn’t have it any other way—I am never bored in New London.
The beginning of March marks the beginning of regaining privileges as a 4/c. For making both the Dean’s List for academics and the Commandant of Cadets’ List for good military performance last semester, I am able to take recruiting leave for spring break, meaning I get to leave a few days early to visit high schools near my home. I look forward to wearing the uniform in my old stomping ground representing America’s finest seagoing service. Ok, I’m proud...! After passing the Coast Guard Indoctrination board, commonly known as “boards” we gained individual privileges such as not having to write notecards when leaving the barracks and playing music out loud. As soon as everyone in our respective companies passed, we were allowed to reactivate our Facebook accounts. Hopefully, we will be awarded wardroom carry-on the week we return from spring break, given everyone else in our class passes that same week.
Hearing about 2018 already is getting us all very excited. I am excited to soon no longer be the lowest on the totem pole, and finally put on that one diagonal 3/c stripe. It is almost scary how already my old 2016 shipmates will be cadre! It feels like just yesterday we were getting yelled at: time flies at the Academy when you don’t look around. However, I will miss the funny parts of 4/c culture, like the “spirit missions”.
Captain Gaines, my chemistry lab instructor, gave me some pretty inspiring advice the other day. He reminded me that I need to make sure I always hold myself accountable automatically, ensuring that self-responsibility is second nature. Soon enough, he said, there will be a 4/c I will have to help, and I will have to worry about both of us. After that, one day I could very well have many people I am responsible for, and potentially assets of the government as well. I realized then why I have to, and want to, do all of the many things I do, stretching myself in so many ways as a 4/c. Someday I will have to look after myself while ensuring other people around me are succeeding. It was a quick wake-up call—soon I won’t be a 4/c, and soon I will have to take responsibility for more than myself. 4/c year is about learning how to function as an individual while balancing functioning as a member of a team. These missions are, whether we realize it or not, preparing us to be role models for the incoming class, guiding them through the same thing we are going through right now.
The Key West community service trip was awesome! We painted, primed, and shined the floating museum ship, USCGC Ingham. There was so much history aboard the ship, and we experienced it firsthand living on the cutter for a week. The skipper who runs the museum operation told me the first night I was staying in some Admiral’s old rack when the admiral was a cadet—that’s how old the cutter was! We met with the Commanding Officer of Sector Key West, Captain Young and his wardroom; went underway on a 110 foot patrol boat; visited a small boat station; and interacted with junior enlisted, senior enlisted, junior officers, warrant officers, and senior officers. So many different perspectives, and it was all jammed into one week! Liberty at night was awesome: experiencing sunsets on the island, the many amazing restaurants, street performers, and all of the neat shops in town. I visited the Harry Truman Little White House, saw the Ernest Hemingway house, and climbed to the top of the Key West lighthouse. The experience really motivated me to come back to the Academy next week and push through the last seven weeks of school before summer training. Seven more weeks until we put on that coveted 3/c stripe. Can’t wait until 2018 arrives!
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