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cadet blogs

For What it’s Worth: Advice to the Class of 2020

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Fenster Photo So in about a month, you’ll be reporting in for the beginning of your 200-week Academy experience. I’ll be the first to tell you that I wasn’t the best swab to come through this place—in fact, far from it. However, I can tell you now (from the other side) that it will definitely be worth it. However, those weeks will be some of the most difficult you have ever endured. So I’ve got some advice for you:

 

1. Remember that it’s all temporary. There will be pain, and you’ll be stressed, and you’ll be uncomfortable. And when it’s happening, you’ll doubt yourself, and you’ll doubt your shipmates, and you’ll doubt your cadre. But when that happens, it’s important to keep in mind that you are here for a reason, your shipmates are too and will always have your back, and that your cadre have been trained and are training you to become members of the Corps of Cadets. Besides, they’re secretly rooting for you to succeed, and everyone else is as well.

 

2. Remember that this is only a small, small part of your Academy experience. For a part of my Swab Summer, I really wanted to quit. I’m not ashamed by the fact because I know I wasn’t the only one who felt that way—I’m pretty sure that nearly everyone will feel that way at some point or another. But the sagest piece of advice that I ever got came from an old friend, who told me that the only time you’ll ever regret something is when you don’t see something to completion. And I can assure you that with Swab Summer that is absolutely applicable. It is seven short weeks, and it will be over before you know it.

 

3. Stay true to yourself. Swab Summer is designed to transition you from a civilian to a cadet in the United States Coast Guard, and your cadre will make sure that happens. But you will not be successful if you don’t maintain your individuality. While you will become part of a team with your shipmates who going through the summer with you, remember that it’s ok to be yourself every once in a while. When you can, laugh a little bit. Recognize the positive things that happen every once in a while. And above all, remember that you’re still you.

 

Enjoy the last month you have before your report in. It’s going to be a difficult summer, but a rewarding one. As always, if you have any questions about how you can prepare for the summer or how you can approach the summer, feel free to contact me at Colin.D.Fenster@uscga.edu.

 

Semper P and Go Bears,
Colin

 

More about Colin.

 

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Schroeder Photo I cannot believe it; the last week of my undergraduate studies is finally here. It is the last Monday, and on Wednesday we wrap up classes. Next week is finals and after that I have pre-graduation things to take care of, and in less than a month I will be packing out of Chase Hall and putting the Academy in my rear view mirror.

 

A lot has changed over the past four years; I have grown immensely as a person, a leader, a daughter, a sister and a friend and I have started to become someone I am proud of. On May 18th, I will graduate with a Bachelors of Science in Marine and Environmental Sciences, and receive a commission as an ensign in the world’s best Coast Guard.

 

With all of the stress that goes along with being a cadet at a service academy, dealing with all the academic and military and athletic obligations, I sometimes forget just how fortunate I am to be here and how excited I am to be a Coast Guard officer. My time here at the Academy has been memorable; I’ve made a ton of lifelong friends and have learned a lot. I didn’t believe everyone when they told me it would go by fast but it has. All my hard work has paid off and I must say it was worth it. On June 22nd, I report in to my first unit, the USCGC Mohawk in Key West, Florida. Not only do I get to live in Key West for the next two years, I also get the chance to travel the Caribbean, Central America and South America with my 270 foot cutter. I will be serving as Weapons Officer onboard and I can’t wait to meet the crew and get started on all the learning and responsibilities I will be undertaking.

 

As I am getting ready to leave the Academy I’ve done a lot of self reflection. Although the Academy can be very trying at times, it is important to remember that if you are given the opportunity to come to a military academy you are one of the few lucky American citizens. Over the past four years, I have had so many experiences my high school classmates could only dream of. I’ve sailed the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Alaska. I’ve spent my summers in South Florida, North Carolina, Bermuda, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Alaska and Cape Cod. I’ve been a part of a nationally ranked college rugby team. I’ve made lifelong friends and received a top notch education. Throughout all this, I’ve kept in mind that the “light at the end of the tunnel” is graduation and becoming a Coast Guard officer. Now that the light is finally in sight, I can’t believe it. I’m nervous and excited, but I’m also extremely fortunate in that I’m graduating college debt free with a job lined up for at least the next five years. If you are thinking about coming to the Academy, just keep in mind that all the hard work and sacrifices you will put in over four years all pay off in the end.

 

More about Jade.

 

It Was All Worth It!

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Roesch Photo I can’t believe, as I’m sitting here in Chase Hall, that these next few nights will be the last I spend here as a cadet. Time seemed to fly by so incredibly fast as a 1/c. I got back from my summer assignment (Eagle and Air Station New Orleans) and rolled right into a whirlwind of a semester. As one of the primary planners of our annual Parents’ Weekend, managing schoolwork, and completing the many steps of my flight school application, fall semester went by so fast with all of the tasks on my to-do list. Spring semester was no different and started off equally fast-paced; however, most of those items were glaring reminders that “real life” was right around the corner and ENS Roesch was quickly becoming a soon-to-be reality. From submitting my dream sheet of billet requests, completing my flight school interview, and getting settled into my last semester of undergraduate courses, I played the waiting game until Billet Night to figure out where I would be going for my first tour.

 

Billet Night was, by far, the best night of my four years at the Academy. Beforehand, everyone had the same amount of nervousness jumping around inside of them, anxiously waiting to hear where they would be assigned next. The excitement inside Leamy Hall that night was tangible and all of 2016 was ready to hear our futures. Recalling the moment I was called to the stage to receive my billet, all I can remember is the feeling of my heart pounding inside my chest. Standing on the stage waiting to open my folder was undoubtedly the longest seconds I’ve ever experienced! When I opened my folder, I couldn’t breathe and the tears began to roll down my face: I was going to flight school! That night is something I will never forget – five years of intense, hard work all became extremely worth it within a matter of seconds! What’s even better is that all of my close friends received billets that they were extremely excited about. Being able to share those same emotions with my best friends made the night even sweeter.

 

Following Billet Night, everything seemed to just start happening at an unusually fast pace. Emails with paperwork, forms, trainings, and more to be completed began making their way into my in box, but it was all thrilling because it all meant one thing: I was graduating and making my way down to Pensacola, Florida to become a Coast Guard aviator! I can definitely fill out a bunch of paperwork for that! I began looking for an apartment and things to fill it with (my OWN place!!), swim teams in the area that I can join, parks I can run in with my dog…basically beginning my new life. It’s all so crazy, but so exciting.

 

Now, as I wait for my family to make their way to New London for Commencement Week, all I can do is just sit back and smile. Though this place had its countless unique challenges, I’m walking away with so many experiences that have taught me about life, the world, our society, and myself. Most importantly, I’m walking away with some of the best friends I will ever have. I am so glad, and somewhat surprised, that I made it through and that all those dreams I had in high school are becoming a reality! My advice to anyone starting their journey: never give up, stay focused on your goals, be resilient, and ignore the naysayers – it will all be very worth it one day!

 

More about Allie.

 

Top Five Experiences

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Engelhardt Photo Hello again.

 

As is often a common phrase now when I write my blogs, I had no intention for such a long delay between posts. If fall flew by, then winter was here and gone in a blink of the eye. As spring approaches the Academy, I wanted to take a moment and be reflective on the top five coolest things that the Coast Guard Academy has enabled me to do while I was a cadet. This place has given me so many once-in-a-lifetime experiences and that I wanted to take a quick moment to jot down just some of them.

 

5. Participate in an Inaugural Parade
The Coast Guard Academy sends a contingent every four years to march before the President in the Inaugural Parade. In 2013, I was fortunate enough to be selected for this honor, and got to drill with my piece, in downtown Washington, D.C. in front of the Commander-in-Chief. How cool is that?

 

4. Drive a Mercedes in the Military Bowl Parade
Noticing a theme here? The Military Bowl, held in Annapolis, Maryland, solicited for representatives from West Point, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard living in the capitol area to participate in the Military Bowl festivities. This event, which took place on my 22nd birthday, allowed me the privilege to drive the Mayor of Annapolis in the parade, meet Miss. America, escort Medal of Honor winners on the football field during the coin toss, and watch the game from the stadium’s luxury box. Talk about a day to remember!

 

3. Attend the U.S. Naval Academy
This is not a typo – through the Service Academy Exchange Program, which allows members of the service academies to exchange for a semester during their junior year, I was able to attend USNA in the fall of 2014. Although I am proud to say I will graduate from the Coast Guard Academy and serve in the U.S. Coast Guard, my experience at Navy allowed me to interact with peers who are going on to serve in the Marine Corps and Navy. This exposure was invaluable to me, and gave me an overall greater appreciation of not only the other naval services, but also the Coast Guard, as I learned more of the positive impacts my service has had on others.

 

2. Visit Exotic Locations on Eagle
Through my cumulative nine weeks aboard the Coast Guard Academy’s training cutter, I had the opportunity to visit three foreign nations, and five ports-of-call in the United States that I had previously never been to. Although it is hard to pick a favorite, I must say that visiting Bermuda in 2013 has certainly created a desire for me to plan a return trip.

 

1. Get My Dream Job Upon Graduation
When I reported to the Coast Guard Academy in 2012, it was hard for me to gauge how realistic of a goal it was for me to want to be a Coast Guard pilot upon graduation. However, with hard work and perseverance, it really is true that anything is possible. I am happy to report that on August 1, I will report to Pensacola, Florida for Naval Flight Training, and God willing, earn my wings in no more than two years. Although this last experience is a little bit of a cop-out, for those reading this, just know that no matter how hard the Coast Guard Academy is, the end reward, a commission in America’s finest seagoing service, is certainly worth it.

 

I hope you enjoyed my blog; it certainly has been enjoyable for me to relive the cool experiences the past four years have given me. If you have any questions, I invite you to email me at James.D.Engelhardt@uscga.edu. Until next time, Fair Winds and Following Seas, and always Go Bears!

 

More about James.

 

A Whirlwind Semester and Much to Look Forward To

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Kimura Photo “Flying by” is an understatement when it comes to describing this semester. Diving season ended, spring break in Machu Picchu happened, and now there is only one week left of classes. The end of the school year means 4/c passing boards, earning carry-on (no longer having to brace up in Chase Hall), and using social media again; 2/c bringing back their newly bought cars; and firsties making plans for their new homes, weddings, and 30 days of leave. For myself as a 3/c, this past weekend made me truly appreciate everything I have to look forward to in the next two years.

 

I attended Class of 2017’s Ring Dance, which is a ceremony that recognizes the 2/c approaching their final year of the Academy with personalized class rings. Just looking at everyone’s rings made me excited for when I get the chance to pick out one for myself. The most astounding part to me about the rings was the amount of money people spent on them. The reason behind the hefty amounts paid was not that people had money to spend carelessly. Instead, the splurging was justified by the sacrifice they have personally put into the Academy; those late nights cramming, exploring foreign port calls, running a PFE the day after every break, hanging over the side of Eagle feeling seasick, cleaning until midnight. They made the investment in the rings because of the strong impact of their Academy experience and the bonds they made with the people around them. I’m sure if I asked any of them if they would pay $1,000, $2,000 or even $3,000 on a ring in high school they would laugh at the thought. But, something changes in three years that makes cadets take enough pride to want to spend that sum on a place they had no experience with three years before.

 

More about Amy.