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CADET BLOGS

cadet blogs

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.

 

Fastest Four Years I’ve Ever Experienced

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Just for Fun, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Corcoran Photo 0600: Wake up and splash some cold water on my face.
0620: Morning formation.
0625: Breakfast; try to make conversation with my division despite my exhaustion.
0645: Retreat back to my room; look at the calendar for my to-do list for the day.

 

…but wait, is that calendar correct? Is it really April 15th already? Where has the time gone?! There is still so much to do, but there is also so much to look forward to.

 

I honestly cannot believe there are now less than two weeks left of school and 33 days until the Class of 2016 graduates from this fine institution and will be heading out into the fleet. Seriously, I am in utter disbelief how fast the time has flown the past four years. However, I am also beyond ready to begin a new chapter of my life aboard the USCGC Hamilton, a national security cutter located in Charleston, South Carolina.

 

I am blessed to be heading to Charleston with one of my best friends, Jay Power. However, I cannot help but feel saddened that I will be separated from some of my other best friends. I truly believe that the Coast Guard Academy fosters deep friendships that will last a lifetime. I basically consider all of my best friends I have made here family. Don’t get me wrong, everyone here is a family. We have all been through so much together. From reporting in together as civilians who had no idea what they were doing, to surviving seven weeks of Swab Summer, getting through a strenuous work and passing boards 4/c year, creating and unveiling our class crest, sailing on the USCGC Barque Eagle, being introduced to the fleet, wearing our rec gear to numerous trips to Chili’s, Olive Garden and other liberty bus locations, making it through 100th week, indoctrinating the Class of 2018 as cadre, sailing around New England on $1 million yachts, getting civilian clothes privileges, starting to take command positions, going to Ring Dance and receiving our class rings, being introduced to the fleet as future junior officers, leading the corps through regimental reviews with our swords, attending Castle Dance at Rosecliff Mansion, dining in, enjoying billet night, and so many more memories, it’s hard not to become a family.

 

Looking back at my time here at the Academy, sure there are plenty of things I would do differently, but I would not want to go through it again with any other people. I am so thankful for everyone who has lent a helping hand to me, made me laugh, and showed me the way. I never thought that I would make it until the end of this extremely challenging, but rewarding, 200-week program, but somehow I did! (Knock on wood.)

 

I am so excited to continue learning out in the fleet and start my career, but of course I am also very nervous. However, I will continue to take life as it comes, one day at a time, and I am hoping I will have a long rewarding career – whether that be in the Coast Guard or civilian sector.

 

If there is one piece of advice I can give to those of you still in the Academy or about to join the best Corps of Cadets in the nation, it is to never take any experience you have here for granted. Sure, bracing up isn’t fun and no one wants to clean heads and passageways in their free time, but I urge you to make the best of every situation you’re put in. It’s amazing how much better your experiences will be if you look at the positive side of things and never take situations too seriously. Remember, whatever happens to you, the world keeps turning and time goes on. You will be okay and you will make it through the day.

 

More about Samantha.

 

Spring Has Sprung

(Academics, Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Hosley Photo Hello again everyone and happy springtime finally! Or so it seems because this New England weather can get pretty crazy… For us, at least, we know that time has come because we have finally transitioned to everyone’s favorite short sleeve uniform, tropical blues or “trops” as we call them. The beginning of trops season is a very busy time of year. The Class of 2016 is looking forward to graduation, 2019 and 2017 are ramping up for their summer assignments, and lastly, 2018, the best class of all, is training to be cadre this upcoming summer for the Class of 2020. It’s hard to believe that I will be a cadre in a few months when it feels like I was just a swab! I am waterfront cadre this summer, which means I will be teaching the incoming swabs how to sail; I couldn’t be more excited.

 

Additionally, I have been making a ton of progress on my directed study work with marine mammals for my marine science major. In fact, just yesterday a few other cadets and I, along with our academic advisor, drove out to Cape Cod to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute for training on how to acoustically identify whale calls that are picked up by a specialized buoy off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. With this new training under our belts, the three of us are working with one of the world’s foremost ocean acousticians, at one of the best oceanographic institutes in the world, to assess the presence of whales in the area; information we will provide to the Coast Guard, Navy, NOAA, and all merchant mariners. How cool is that?! The Coast Guard Academy has offered me some incredible opportunities to pursue my passion thus far and with summer right around the corner, I can’t wait to see what will come next!

 

More about Cece.

 

Two Spring Breaks for the Price of One

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Just for Fun, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo I had a bit of an odd spring break this year. I departed a day early to perform in Georgia and Alabama with the Glee Club, spent the rest of the week with my grandparents who live outside of Atlanta, and flew back the day prior to leave expiring. So all of that was pretty standard… what made it odd was that after I unpacked from my trip down south, I simply repacked for another one! The next morning, I flew out to Rome, Italy with three other cadets, one of the humanities instructors, and her husband to compete in the week-long Harvard World Model United Nations competition. Guess who got two spring breaks for the price of one?

 

The Model United Nations team is one of the fastest-growing clubs at school. This time last year, it was a ragtag group of individuals piling onto a train going to New York City… now, we’ve become well-established enough to ship cadets overseas to compete. This particular conference is easily one of the most remarkable events of which I’ve been a part in my life. I worked with one of my classmates in a group simulating the United Nations’ Disarmament and International Security committee. We represented the interests of South Sudan in conversations about Violent Non-State Actors, and collaborated with about 400 other students from all across the globe to formulate mock laws facing that issue. The people who participated alongside us were from Germany, France, England, Iran, Australia, Syria, Venezuela, Russia, Italy, and countless other countries. Considering that cadets aren’t even allowed to leave the base most days of the week, you can imagine what an enriching experience it was to learn about so many different places from the people who know them best! It was such an excellent place in which to learn about international politics and relations. Seeing as how there is not as much room in the science major for such study, I appreciated the practical lesson in applying and acquiring current events knowledge!

 

And the conference wasn’t even the end of the fun… each night, my classmates and I were able to go out and explore every corner of Rome. I won’t bore you with the extensive list of the sights we saw, but I will mention that Harvard arranged for us to hear a speech by the Pope (yes, he spoke in Italian, so I had no idea what he was saying… but it was still him, so that’s cool), the Colosseum is indeed humongous, the piazzas are pretty and plentiful, gelato is amazing, and the best part was meeting up with one of my best friends from high school! Yes, I saw my friend from quiet little Nebraska in Europe, of all places! No better person with which to watch the sun set over Rome from a beautifully sculpted terrace in the middle of the city!

 

It’s easy to look at the Academy and think only of all the restrictions and sacrifices you have to make to be a cadet here. No daily liberty, no deciding on my own clothes, lots of time spent on homework… And yet, because I chose to give up those little freedoms, I’ve been rewarded with the most fantastic of opportunities and chances to see so much more of the world than I ever would have at a different school. Rome was incredible, the people at the conference taught me so much, and I made a once-in-a-lifetime memory with a close friend. So I suppose in a sense, by making your world a little bit smaller, you expand it beyond anything you could expect… isn’t that funny?

 

More about Abby.

 

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 Colin.D.Fenster@uscga.edu.

 

Semper Paratus and Go Bears,
Colin

 

More about Colin.