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A First Class Fall

(Academics, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Daghir Photo Hello from the Coast Guard Academy! Sorry that I haven’t written in a while but it has been a crazy semester so far. As a 1/c cadet, I am expected to lead a division and to be a role model to the cadets in my company and in the corps. I love being able to motivate underclassmen, and to be that firstie that we all dreamed to be for the past three years. As a 1/c, we are expected to go to about a million medical examinations (more if you are going to apply to flight school) as well as sign up for our pictures so I can already see that with all of this, the semester will likely fly by. School has been pretty fun thus far; I am taking a lot of classes that really interest me. I enrolled in National Security Policy, which is offered by the Humanities department and I am the only non-Gov major in the class. It is a really cool class; I highly recommend it because it involves relevant discussions of current events and how they pertain to our national interest. I love it. Additionally, I am taking a few oceanography classes that get me very excited about graduate school possibilities and research. Lastly, I am taking Nautical Science and the class was changed for the first time to give the students the opportunity to get their 100 ton masters license. This is great because it can be used outside of the Coast Guard as a civilian.


While classes are good, I should mention that the Academy is not all fun and games. As cadets, we are expected to uphold the core values and to be respectful and responsible at all times. People occasionally get into trouble and, unfortunately, I have attended two masts in the past week. A mast is a way to punish cadets when they have violated the regulations that we are held to at all times. What happens is a cadet will come before the Commandant of Cadets or the Assistant Commandant and will stand at attention to be read their rights. A trial or sorts is held to determine if he or she has committed the offense. At the end, the cadet is either seen to commit the offense or not, and if found guilty, then he or she will be awarded a punishment of restriction, marching tours and demerits. Masts are scary but they are a good reminder that we go to a military academy, and that we must act like officers all the time. It is a lot to digest but I think that as a firstie going into the fleet, I have to say that I can see the importance of us learning what we need to, in the broad spectrum from academics to social skills, to conduct.


My life at school has been hectic but the weather has been beautiful. This time of year is my absolute favorite. I am crazy excited to start our fall lacrosse season. As a captain this year, I am thrilled to have another opportunity to take on some new responsibility and to help make this season great.


More about Lucy.


A Look Back at March (Hogwarts Edition)

(Academics, Just for Fun, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Sandri Photo In the words of Taylor Swift and Rihanna, it’s a typical Tuesday night and there’s three more days ‘til Friday! Right now, I’m holed up in the library writing a research paper and studying for one of my six exams this week, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel: after our last military obligation (LMO) this Friday, the corps will leave for Spring Break. I will be traveling to Peru with the Academy’s Catholic group for a service trip, and I can’t wait!


It feels like this semester has flown by. It started with the “Dark Ages” of January and February and a completely new 23-credit course load, but as the days get longer and weather gets warmer, I’m re-realizing how great the Academy can be. The beginning and end of the school year here are my favorites, probably because they surround the awesome Academy summers, and everything seems a bit shiny and exciting. Second semester went by in a heartbeat last year, and this year it’s doing the same.


So now, on to the important stuff. It’s often said that the CGA is like Hogwarts. Without further ado, here’s a list of reasons why:


  • We have a Room of Requirement, a.k.a. the class cages. Cadets can store extra belongings and unauthorized room items in the attic of Chase Hall, but there are no promises you’ll be able to find them again.
  • Our library has a restricted book section.
  • We are issued long bathrobes.
  • The corps is divided into eight companies, like the four houses, and each company has their own wing area.
  • We compete for “Honor Company,” the equivalent of the “House Cup.”
  • One of my teachers greatly resembles Professor Umbridge. Except she’s not at all evil.
  • MES majors take a Potions class. (Technically called Physical Oceanography).
  • It’s a bit like living in another hemisphere, especially for 4/c who have no social media and more required time on campus.
  • Parts of Chase Hall are constantly being renovated/constructed. You’re guaranteed to find new spaces to get lost in at least once.
  • We eat meals family-style.
  • “There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.” Times at the Academy can be crazy and rough, but your friends will see you through the best and the worst!

As always, feel free to email me at with any questions.


More about Eva.


Cool Project, Perfect Timing

(Academics, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Stowes Photo At the Academy, 1/c cadets are required to complete final senior projects called capstones. Each major has different requirements for capstones; however, all of them address operational Coast Guard issues. For example, one mechanical engineering capstone a few years ago designed a new rescue basket for Coast Guard Dolphin helicopters. After the presentation, headquarters adopted the design and it became the standard for the Coast Guard. On the humanities side, an advanced research project into Arctic policy last year provided the Coast Guard with tangible policy and operational consultation. As you can see, these projects carry some weight, so we take them very seriously.


My capstone is an advanced research project studying Mexico. Specifically, I am going to write a paper that discusses Chinese merchant vessels smuggling meth precursor chemicals into Mexico. So far, that’s all we have been given to scope the project. I have spent the last five weeks reading about the foundations of Latin America’s culture, politics, social arrangements, economics, and more. Once I understand the history of Mexico better, I will be able to discuss contemporary issues on a much more comprehensive level. My two partners and I are not writing a simple intelligence paper about the how and when the Chinese supply meth precursor chemicals; rather, we will discuss the why questions. Why can China infiltrate Mexican institutions so easily? Why are the cartels so violent? Why hasn’t the war on drugs worked? Ultimately, our paper will analyze the works we read and any data we collect. Then we will make conclusions and recommendations to headquarters. It is our hope that our research project will help to develop a feasible and effective policy for managing the meth trade in Mexico.


Last week, we were very fortunate to have ADM James Stavridis on board the Academy. He was the Commander of the U.S. Southern Command and he retired as NATO’s supreme allied commander. Now, he is Dean of the Fletcher School. ADM Stavridis visited to discuss modern security strategies in Latin and South America. He has written a book Called Partnership for the Americas, which focuses on Western Hemisphere security, so he’s an expert on that subject.


I had the honor of getting to meet ADM Stavridis with my partners, and we had a great discussion. ADM Stavridis was very pleased to hear that we were studying Mexico and security in the Western Hemisphere. He gave us a lot of advice and contacts for our project, and he told us a little bit about his studies of Mexico and Latin America. After that, I sat in on his corps-wide speech and I heard his full policy. It is basically a mix of force and soft power (cooperation and international actions) to assure that we protect people and eliminate poverty. Poverty is a driving force in the reason people resort to drugs and support the cartels, so his speech was very applicable to my project. It was perfect timing for him to have visited.


This blog highlights that cadets are doing major projects that have real-world affects. We don’t just strive to be nationally relevant; we are nationally relevant because cadets are taking on projects that play an integral part of the operational Coast Guard’s mission success. We are fortunate to be doing such meaningful work. If you have any questions about any of my blogs, feel free to ask me anything at 


More about Hunter.


This Fall Will be Full of Memories

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Coburn Photo Well, we are officially into week two of the fall academic semester. Starting school was a bit different this year than last year to say the least. First, I got to come back to the Academy in rec gear (blue polo and khakis) instead of wearing my trops, which was a big plus. The biggest difference though was when I got into Chase; I almost ran into someone and immediately heard “Good afternoon, ma’am.” This was the moment I had been waiting for since last August, the moment when I would no longer be a 4th class. It was a little weird at first, but I can definitely say it is a lot less stressful being a 3rd class. I am in Charlie Company and I have a good division with some of my own 4th class; as a 3/c, I will be a role model for the 4/c and help them throughout the year. In addition, I am starting to take more classes that are actually related to my major and hopefully this will mean a better academic year than last.


The fall season at the Academy is probably my favorite time of the year (besides the spring, of course, for lacrosse). For one, I love the weather in the fall, especially being from New England, I am used to the crisp air and the falling leaves. There are also a multitude of sports and moral events for the corps to participate in. And who could forget Spirit Week, which leads up the Secretaries Cup! In general, it looks likes it is shaping up to be a great year and I can’t wait to make many more memories.


More about Mimi.


Transition from 4/c to 3/c

(Academics, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Condon Photo Hey guys! Sorry it’s been so long since I posted, but things have been really hectic in my life over the past year. I greatly underestimated how busy I would be 4/c year. I participated in three varsity sports last year, meaning that I never had an off season. In addition to sports, academics were also very difficult for me. First semester went by pretty easily, but second semester came and I was constantly busy. Beginning second semester, studying until 2 a.m. became common. I also began to struggle more than before. Chemistry II and Calculus II pushed me farther than I ever have been academically. I would spend hour upon hour studying for Chemistry only to get a 55 percent on a test. It was extremely frustrating to constantly fail. About halfway through the semester, after spring break, I changed my study habits and began to work more with my classmates. I remember in high school, I would avoid studying with other people over fear of distraction. However, group studying actually saved me toward the end of 4/c year. Anyway, I finished 4/c year and managed to get at least a C- in Chemistry and Calculus, thankfully avoiding academic probation.


Once 4/c year came to an end, my mind left academics and began thinking of qualification boards and boat crew sign-offs. I was first phase Eagle and I actually had a pretty good time. Eagle is a lot of work, but the ship will take you to some really cool places! Half my class and I went to Key West, Nassau, Norfolk, and Staten Island. After Eagle, I reported to Station Emerald Isle in North Carolina for the second half of my summer. At the station, the other cadets and I stood communications watch, which is basically monitoring the radios and answering the phones, I helped around the station, went underway on the small boats, and worked on boat crew sign-offs. After six weeks at the station, it was finally time for summer leave. Summer leave was fun, but after going home I started to notice more of a detachment from my high school friends than before. A lot of cadets talk about this happening, but I never believed it until this summer. Because of this, I mostly just spent time with my girlfriend and family.


I’ve been back as a 3/c now for almost a month, and already it’s very different. I was talking to a second class earlier this year and he told me the biggest difference between a 4/c and 3/c is as a 4/c you never realize just how nice everyone is here. When you’re a 4/c, everyone seems to always watch you, correct you, mentor you, and ensure that you are doing everything right. However, as a 3/c, people treat you differently. There’s still mentorship and people may step in to correct you but you are not as objectified and are treated more like an adult and friend.


If you have any questions, feel free to email me.


More about Ryan.