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cadet blogs

Half Marathon Fun

(Academics, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Glick Photo “I Just Felt Like Running” – Forest Gump


The first day of spring arrived, and lo and behold, we had a delayed opening due to snow! But in all seriousness, it is springtime, the trees are budding, and there are more and more cadets out and about on our sports fields, running trails, and roads between 1600 and 1800, or sports period. The sun is going down much later in the evening, and let me officially declare that the Dark Ages are over!


Last weekend, I ran in the Savin Rock Half Marathon near New Haven, Connecticut. I had been training since January, and I finally did it. There were over 500 people in the race who had come from all over. Apparently, there is an underground community of half marathon fanatics, some of whom do one every weekend. Each cadet must participate in some approved athletic activity in order to remain in good standing, through varsity or club sports, intramurals, or an approved athletic activity. As a cadet, you can run an official half marathon and receive sports credit, so I decided to try it this semester. When I started taking running seriously at the beginning of the semester, I couldn’t run more than 3 miles. By the beginning of March, I was running ten miles at a time, and about 30 miles per week. I was a bit nervous for the race last week, but it went by quick—just under two hours. I was pretty sore the next day, but I decided to sign up for another one in central Connecticut in two weeks. A bunch of cadets are running it to get their sports credit and have some fun, so we’re driving up there together. I’m looking forward to exploring this newfound hobby for the remainder of my time at CGA.


More about William.


So...It Has Been a While

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Silliman Photo I am quite guilty of neglecting my blog over most of the year, so I’m going to try to update what’s happened with me over the past year over the next few weeks, starting with the fall. Swab Summer ended and that was one of the best feelings ever. The next week was Cadet Administrative Processing week, which was a lot of fun and we had various trainings and lectures to get us oriented for the academic year. The week ended with a formal room and wing, which I passed. I had a really good roommate first semester and that Friday my roommate, me, and one other friend went to my house for the weekend. Going home for the first time since reporting in incredible. My fellow cadets and I had a great time. After the weekend, we returned to the Academy to jump into academics.


This was when I joined the Academy’s dinghy sailing team. It’s a really great group of people, and I love being part of the team. I thought I was a pretty good sailor recreationally, but getting into competitive racing I learned I have a lot of skills to pick up. After two weeks of academics and practice I returned home, this time for three nights over Labor Day weekend. After that, I assisted at a number of regattas on the weekends for the sailing team. As just a walk-on with little previous racing experience, I had a lot of catching up to do before they would let me race. I had the last weekend in September off from sailing and my parents came down for Parent’s Weekend. They got to see my classes on Friday and they took me off campus Friday and Saturday night and we checked out an old whaling village called Mystic.


Two weeks later, I had another three-night weekend for Columbus Day. I spent that weekend with my family in New York City while my younger sister visited colleges. While in New York I caught up with an old friend I had not seen in forever. I also went to the Freedom Tower, and as a member of the military, I was able to go up for free. It was an incredible thing to see New York from the top of the Freedom Tower. During the journey to the top, we got to hear an interesting history of the City of New York. On that Sunday, I saw the musical Hamilton, which told the incredible story of the life of the father of the Coast Guard. At the end of that weekend I returned to the Academy. And that was my first half of first semester. I’ll post another update on the rest of first semester soon, and hopefully I will eventually catch up to the present.


More about Derek.


Spring Break Lacrosse Trip 2016: Colorado

(Athletics, Just for Fun, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Hosley Photo Hello everyone and happy spring! Today is our second day back at school after spring break, so everyone is trying to adjust back to Academy life, not always the easiest transition. However, this year’s spring break trip was a blast! The men’s lacrosse team traveled to Virginia Beach, and we got to go to Colorado Springs, which was absolutely incredible. No matter where you are in the city you can see these beautiful towering mountains in the background that just take your breath away! And speaking of breath, Colorado Springs is situated at an elevation of almost 7,000 feet and adjusting to the altitude was definitely not easy. We played two games out in Colorado, one against Colorado College and one against Messiah College. Both teams were very good and sprinting at that altitude had us out of breath and exhausted very quickly, but it was a great workout and now that were back, running here is a breeze!


Also while we were out in Colorado we had the opportunity to do some amazing things outside of lacrosse. One morning we convinced our coach to let us wake up before sunrise and hike up to this rock formation outside the city called Pulpit Rock. It was cold and dark when we woke up, but we all ran up the mountainside in excitement. Once we reached the rock formation we were tired and out of breath, but the view was amazing! We climbed all over the rocks while watching the sun rise up over the mountain with a spectacular view of the whole city as well (I have included a few pictures). The other hike we did was through the national historic site, Garden of the Gods. Garden of the Gods was beautiful! These huge red rock formations dotted the hillsides and visitors can hike and climb throughout the park. We hiked to a rock formation called the Siamese Twins, which was really neat, but my favorite formation was the rock structure called the Kissing Camels named after the two kissing rocks that look like camels. If you ever have a chance to go visit Colorado Springs or the Garden of the Gods, I would definitely recommend it!


More about Cece.


Swab Summer Preparation

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
King Photo March 18th is exactly one year since I received my appointment to the Coast Guard Academy. I remember the moment when I received the email; I stood up and cheered—even though it was in the middle of the school day. I was so excited to go to the Academy and couldn’t believe that I was heading there for Swab Summer. I started preparing for Swab Summer pretty much the day I got my appointment, and would like to share some tips.


Get into excellent physical shape. This is probably one of the best pieces of advice I can give you. While you can never truly prepare for the mental aspect, you can definitely prepare for the physical. Make sure to push yourself, specifically in running (three miles is a good distance), pushups, and core exercises. While it won’t make Swab Summer easy, it will definitely make it a little bit better. A physical fitness goal would to score a B or higher on the first PFE.


Play to your strengths and be resourceful. Not everyone is going to be excellent at pushups and not everyone is going to be awesome at memorizing information. That’s what makes your company a team. I found out pretty quickly over the summer that I wasn’t the fastest or the strongest. However, I was really good at making people laugh and staying enthusiastic. I made sure to keep the mood light and encouraged my shipmates during the seven weeks.


You will fail, and it will hurt. It’s really a matter of what you do afterward. Whatever you do, keep trying your hardest. Nothing can replace effort during Swab Summer. I’ve seen it happen where a perfectly fit swab gives up during a set of pushups while a less fit swab continues exercising. Your cadre will make sure that you struggle. That’s part of their job to prepare you for the school year. From my experience, they will continue to push you and will put in a ton of time and effort in training you. They won’t give up on you, so you shouldn’t give up on yourself.


Don’t forget to laugh. Swab Summer is chaotic, and there are days when you will want to quit. However, keep a positive attitude. During my Swab Summer, I told my company a joke every single day during bathroom breaks. This allowed for a quick break and gave some perspective. Swab Summer is only seven weeks out of 200 here. It does get better, a lot better. Just know when to laugh and when to lock it up.


More about Deborah.


Lightning Can Strike the Same Place Twice

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Fenster Photo Or in this case, more times than I can count. And the place is the Coast Guard Academy. Because over the past two months, we have had so many unique individuals come and interact with the Corps of Cadets. Most recently, we had our Commandant, Admiral Paul Zukunft, come and challenge us to be leaders of the future in a stimulating corps-wide address. Prior to Admiral Zukunft, we had DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association. And the list goes on. Jeh C. Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security; Admiral (Retired) James Stavridis, a former high-ranking naval official who is now the Dean of the Fletcher School of Law at Tufts University; and Admiral (Retired) Thad Allen, former Coast Guard Commandant, all came to address the corps.


But the storm that is the U.S. Coast Guard Academy is not limited to talks from high-ranking officials; that is simply the tip of the iceberg. A few weeks ago, the entire corps was treated to a special pre-release showing of The Finest Hours, the new movie about one of the most daring Coast Guard rescues in history. I don’t think I have to go out on a limb to say that there are not many schools in the country—or the world—who have had that kind of experience. And the movie itself is indicative of not only our institution but also our service as a whole—we strive to not only be successful but also to be unique and passionate in our daily operations. I feel lucky to be a part of an organization that views its role in society with such a high regard.


However, my leadership development comes from more than just talks and movies. On the athletics side of things, the swim team just wrapped up a successful season with a third place finish at NEWMAC Conference Championships and a top-25 finish in the NCAA polls. This was one of the most fun years I have had as part of a swim team, which was due largely in part to our team camaraderie and the amazing support staff involved with the Athletics Department.


And perhaps most importantly, we have escaped the dark ages and are on the downhill to the end of the school year. It’s a good time here in New London. And as always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me at


Semper Paratus and Go Bears,


More about Colin.


Academy Weekends: Work Hard, Play Hard

(Academics, Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Glick Photo February is flying by, and spring break is right around the corner: next week! My classmates and I are anticipating the summer billet list. We are curious to find out where we will be spending our summers!


If you have ever seen the movie Groundhog Day, that’s pretty much what the Academy is like 2/c year, or in any year of the Academy experience for that matter. In the movie, Bill Murray lives the same day over and over again, and tests the limits of his newly discovered power of repeating the same day. Likewise, at the Academy, everything is routine. You eat at the same time every day, walk by the same people at the same time every day, workout at the same time every day, and see the same faces every day. My weeks keep me busy with classes, schoolwork, getting the Corps ready for the arrival for the Class of 2020 as a member of Battalion Staff, attending Corps-wide leadership lecture series, and fulfilling military trainings.


Now, to discuss life at the Academy after Friday LMO (last military obligation): the weekends are when the magic happens! This weekend, I am traveling to USMA for the West Point Model United Nations competition. Two weekends ago, some of my friends and I checked out Mohegan Sun, one of the largest casinos on the East Coast, and ate at some high class restaurants. Last weekend, I went to New York City, and the weekend before that we had a Class of 2017 event at a downtown New London restaurant. Another weekend this semester I drove to Wesleyan University to meet up with a friend. The weekends break up the constant rhythm of the Academy weekday routine, and allow cadets to explore their interests, faith, and the local area. Some of my friends also travel with the Glee Club, boxing team, and other sports teams all across the country on the weekends.


Having said all that, Academy weekends are sometimes all about rest and reflection. Every few weeks, we have formal room and wing inspections to ensure that we are keeping work-life conditions clean. Most weekends, I stay back and get ahead on homework, projects, and resolve problems regarding the highly anticipated arrival of the Class of 2020! Of course, there is plenty to do in New London on weekends, including restaurants and many different faith congregations in the area. On my quieter weekends, I grab breakfast with some friends before church early Sunday mornings, or go downtown on Friday nights with the boys. In all, weekends are what make the Academy experience fun and enjoyable, and allow for cadets to engage in reflection and self-discovery, and catch up on our many duties.


More about William.


Good Divisions

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Auzenbergs Photo At the Academy, there are eight companies, each containing members from all four classes. Out of approximately 100 people per company, there are three departments, which are specific to the jobs of the company, and inside each department, divisions that are made up of one firstie and one or two members from each class below them, adding to about five people per division. A good division is key to having a good semester. So far in my cadet career, with four total divisions, I fortunately cannot say that I have had to work with a bad group of people.


First semester 4/c year, I was in a division that did not have much work, and with my knee injury, that was very helpful. Second semester 4/c year, I was in a division with another 4/c, 3/c, 2/c and 1/c who all played men’s basketball, and had team lunches and breakfasts many days, so I did not see much of them. First semester this year was the first time I was ranked above someone in my division, and I had two 4/c. I was responsible for making sure they understood what their duties were, and writing their Cadet Evaluation Reports (CERs) at the end of the semester. It was difficult having to check in on two of them, but both of my 4/c were on top of their assigned tasks, and I never had to discipline them, or ask them twice to do anything. This was a major contributor to their good CERs, and the success of our division as a whole.


This semester, I only have one 4/c, and another 3/c to share the responsibility with, so it has gone much smoother. It was a stressful semester for my 4/c, because they went through “boards,” the large indoctrination exam that all 4/c have to take, but much to my delight, he passed on his first attempt. That was a major accomplishment on his part, and now all he has to do is wait for the rest of our company and his class to pass boards to earn “carry on.” The semester is hitting its mid-point and we are all sensing the winding down of this school year already. I cannot believe that in only a few short months, I will be an upper-classmen, and have the privilege of wearing civilian clothes out on liberty and home for breaks. Time sure flies by here; as I am talking about helping my 4/c pass boards, it feels like I took them myself a few weeks ago!


More about Gabrielle.


How Do You Spend Your Friday Nights?

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Twarog Photo Prior to coming to the Academy, I had the chance to earn a Firefighter 1 certification through my high school. Basically this course taught me all of the basic skills firefighters use at a fire scene. For two hours a day for my entire senior year, I learned how to ventilate a burning building, rescue victims, dress a fire hydrant, and don fire gear. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to take advantage of the certification during my time in high school before getting here. That changed in November when I was accepted as a volunteer firefighter in the Old Mystic Fire Department. Thanks to my certification, I’m fully qualified to respond with the department for medical calls, car accidents and fires.


As a fourth class in particular, this works out well because I get to volunteer on Friday and Saturday nights when I normally wouldn’t be able to leave the Academy, and I spend the night at the firehouse. I get volunteer hours for my entire time at the department, and they quickly add up. It’s a pretty great deal all around. Here are a few things that I’ve taken away so far:

  • Responding to a call is a skill you can’t practice in a class. Over Swab Summer, you go from 0-100 in a couple seconds as soon as reveille goes off. That being said, going from 0-100 when the alarm goes off at the house is very different. During Swab Summer, you fight to be out of your room to avoid being shredded apart for being the last on the bulkhead. When the alarm goes off at the firehouse, you know that someone might be having the worst night of their life. No matter how tired or how nervous you might be, you need to have your act together as soon as your feet hit the ground because someone’s life might depend on it. That’s humbling as an 18 year old.
  • Stay humble. There’s a sense of cockiness that everyone inevitably carries if you go to the Academy. We get referred to as “America’s best and brightest” a bit too often for our own good, and it’s easy to have a bit of an ego. As soon as I put on my fire department uniform, nothing that I’ve done at the Academy matters. I’m expected to meet the same expectations as those I serve with, and I might be spending my Saturday night cleaning toilets (which coming off a Formal Room and Wing isn’t fun). Respect has to be earned, and it doesn’t come easily.
  • Never say the “q” word. Ever. The second you say the word “quiet,” you’re asking for the wrath of God. The second you hope for a quiet night, you’ve asked for calls straight from midnight to 6 a.m.
  • You’re going to learn just as much about leadership as a first responder as being the president of any club. There’s an unwritten trust that comes with rolling up with the flashing lights. The people we serve let out a sigh of relief when they see us come on scene. They might be scared, in a lot of pain or barely hanging onto consciousness but, regardless, when they see us get out of the truck, they know that we’re here to help them. On the inside, there are going to be times when you are overwhelmed or nervous. You have to be that face of calm for them though. If that’s not a lesson in leadership, I don’t know what is.
  • The moment you go on your first call, all of the time you’ve spent in class and on weekends training is worth it. Words can’t capture the sense of pride and satisfaction you get after going on your first call. Walking a stretcher to the ambulance and being thanked by a patient is pretty amazing. I think that volunteering with the OMFD has confirmed that the Coast Guard is the right service for me.


If you have the chance to get an EMT or Firefighter 1 certification, do it. It’ll be one of the best decisions of your life.


More about Evan.