I really need to start writing more often because so much happens within the course of a month that it makes these blogs really long. Not to mention I probably forget to mention some things (and now that school’s out, and I am in the midst of my summer training—CGC Thunder Bay out of Rockland, Maine—it’s even harder to remember what I wanted to write. I have a few notes, so here it goes.
Let me first start by saying that my April blog will probably not be as detailed as my March blog (and hopefully as long). While I really enjoy writing about all the little things that enrich my personal cadet experience, I also want to stay focused on the big picture of cadet life—lessons learned, words of advice or caution, funny stories, etc.
I’ll give a rundown of the exciting events of April (as jam-packed as March) and then move to a reflection on 4/c year (Part Two).
April Fools’ Day (a Sunday) – I didn’t play any pranks or have any played on me. I’m bummed about that. On a different note, my friend, also named Justin, and I taught Sunday school (Protestant) that morning!
CGA Plasma Lab – This past semester I’ve been working with one of the professors—Lieutenant Commander James—on a directed study lab that involves assisting him in his experiments. I had the opportunity to present at a symposium in Gaithersburg, Virginia (near Washington, D.C.) sponsored by Directed Energy Professional Society (DEPS). My lab partner, 2/c Nolan, and I also spoke about our semester’s work at the Academy’s undergraduate research symposium that occurred following the last day of classes.
Wardroom carry on – We earned the privilege to look at our food and talk to one another in the wardroom (cafeteria)! It may not seem like a big deal, but after practically nine straight months of not doing so, it’s definitely a treat! Other privileges include being allowed to listen to music out loud. Again, something that seems minor, but after not doing it for a long time, it’s exciting!
Easter weekend – Long weekend! (We don’t have to stay over in Chase Hall). I visited my aunt and cousins in Hartford and went to a Passover Seder. On Easter Sunday, I went to services at Groton Bible Chapel and then celebrated with a fantastic dinner at Leann Strickland’s house (she is the Blog Club Advisor); I definitely felt like part of the family!* This was my first Easter (and holiday for that matter) away from home; sorry Mom, but I didn’t feel a bit homesick at all. The family atmosphere at the Academy is awesome!
*Sponsor families: Speaking of support systems, I don’t think I’ve mentioned my sponsor family or the sponsor family program! Kind of a HUGE part of cadet life I’ve neglected! So there is a program for all cadets in which they are paired with a family that lives in the area of the Academy. This family opens their home (and fridge and car) to their sponsor cadet(s), and basically acts as a home away from home. Leann is a sponsor parent, but she’s not mine (she invited me and a few other cadets because we’re bloggers). My sponsor parents are Guy and Thena, and they are great! I’ve been over to their house several times, and I definitely consider it my home away from home!
Forums – During the month of April there were two forums that took place at the Academy. The first was the Conference on Leadership in the Arctic. Because much of the conference took place during the school day, I was only able to watch a short bit of it—it was streamed lived! There was also a Corps-wide lecture on the first night of the conference.
The other forum was the Sustainability Forum sponsored by the sustainability club. Scientists and other environmental agencies attended; there was a panel discussion, keynote speaker, and, for each of the organizations, booths with information and recent project summaries.
Sustainability Club – While I’m on the topic of sustainability, at the end of the school year, two other cadets and I worked with the upper class club leaders for the sustainability club so that next year we could be the leaders of the club. I’m excited to be co-leading a group and to complete our first project—a promotional video!
New places – We received our summer assignments. I am stationed on USCGC Thunder Bay (140 foot) out of Rockland, Maine. This location was my first choice, so I’m pretty happy with the assignment. I’ll be on the T-Bay for six weeks and then will go to Eagle for another six. We will be along the East Coast, and my parents plan to come see the ship!
The 4/c cadets were also assigned their new companies, the companies we’ll be in for the next three years. I’m in Foxtrot. Pretty excited for next year and being a 3/c!
Finals and packing out – We had final exams and also had to pack out of our room for the summer. Everything had to fit into two trunks and two Tupperware bins. I was actually surprised at how easy it was to fit everything. The upper-class cadets say it only gets harder…
Well, there you have a not-as-short-as-I-planned description of my last month as a 4/c cadet at the Academy.
Check out Part Two for the reflection part of my April blog.
More about Justin.