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Looking Forward, Looking Back

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
Townsend Photo I am in absolute shock that I only have one semester left at the Academy. I have vivid memories of my first day at the Academy when I reported in. These past few years have gone by so quickly and there are so many good memories, but there are many more memories still to make. As a second semester first class at the Coast Guard Academy there are numerous events to look forward to. In just a few short weeks I will find out my first unit and where I will be stationed for the next two years. That is only the beginning of the excitement because not long after that I will be on spring break, starting my last season of lacrosse at the Academy and attending Castle Dance in a beautiful Newport mansion.


As first class we also have Dining-In to look forward which is an event that every class has done and is a tradition at the Academy. Dining-In is a dinner that all first class attends along with the members of our command and our instructors to reminisce about everything that has happened over the last three and a half years. I am excited to look back at all of the good times that I have shared with my classmates and even some of the bad times to see how much we have all grown and improved since then. I am looking forward to the future, but I can’t forget to enjoy the moment that I am in right now.


More about Brianna.


Never Go Hungry at the Academy

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
Quintero Photo As the semester is winding down, my eye is on the prize and that is winter leave. While at the Academy or anywhere as a matter of fact, it is important to set short term goals or things to look forward to. For example, I know that there is a federal holiday once a month so we have a long weekend that often. Furthermore, I have all the federal holidays memorized by name and what month they are in; it’s just a little something I look forward to every month to keep me sane. Right now my motivation is getting to winter leave, even if there is a lot of work, tests, papers etc. in the way. For whatever reason, it seems like teachers pack all big projects and papers toward the end of the semester so it can get hectic at times. Some cadets may describe Chase Hall (the dorms) as a very dark place, but during the holidays, I think even with all the work, there is a vibrant air that floats around.


Something else that I look forward to weekly is watching the Eagles play on Sunday. For all you sports fans out there game day/night in whatever sport you may enjoy spectating is a great way to get your mind away from all the work at the Academy. Since you can’t sleep at all during the week (6 a.m. wake up) except on Sundays, I generally wake up at 12 or 1 on Sundays and then turn on some football. Since we only get local cable on TV, you have to watch some games on the internet. But cadets aren’t allowed TVs in their rooms so people watch TV in one of the eight communal rooms in Chase Hall. I know a lot of cadets that enjoy watching TV and own a subscription to either Netflix or their parents own a cable service that allows them to watch local channels on their computer. Along with not having TVs, we are also not allowed to have fridges, couches, microwaves or anything of that sort in our rooms. Those things I listed are nice commodities, but they are things that you can live without. Especially since the food at the Academy is outstanding and there is plenty of it. I can honestly say that I’ve never gone hungry while at the Academy; now at prep school it’s a different story because that food was awful. I’ve eaten at a couple of college cafeterias with my friends and they were not as good as the Academy. And on top of that Academy food is FREE! So you can’t beat that anywhere else. The Coast Guard Academy is also ranked #1 for best food out of all the other service academies and after talking to Coast Guard cadets that went on exchange to a different academy for a semester, they say that the thing that they missed most from our Academy was the food.


More about Carlos.


Ready to Take on Challenges

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2014) Permanent link
Quintero Photo It’s currently just after the midterm period of my senior year. Life as a senior is so much different than that of an underclass. If I could describe senior year using one word then it would be EASIER. The course load, especially for a Management major is a much lighter than it has been in the past. After a while you just get into the swing of things and get into that groove and classes come easier. We have a lot more privileges as well that make me feel almost human again. I can go out Thursday nights. I don’t have to be back on Saturday nights, and I could also wear civilian clothing when I go out. I am allowed to have a car on campus too, which makes it easier to get from Point A to Point B.


When you are a freshmen or even before then if you went through prep school, you ask yourself everyday whether you made the right choice by coming to the Academy or not. The reason why underclass question themselves everyday is because it is not easy being a cadet, although it is very rewarding. It is a fact that nothing that comes easy is appreciated in life as much as the things that you had to work hard for. That is why in retrospect as a 1/c, I feel like I have made the right choice by coming to the Academy. I had to make a lot of sacrifices down the road just like everyone else; you have to leave family behind, sometimes your personality, and a little bit of your freedom. Now remember that the Academy is not for everyone, you can be just as successful if not more successful in life doing anything else other than the Academy. But for those that feel like they need order, self-discipline and have the calling to serve their nation should join.


All walks of life show up to the Academy on Reporting-In Day at the end of June every year. There are those that received an athletic scholarship and those that just want to play a sport, there are those whose parents where in the military, those who wanted a free college, those who dreamed about being in the Coast Guard all their lives, prior enlisted, college students that get sick of regular college, those whose friends dared them to attend an Academy, those whose parents forced them to come, and (my favorite) those who thought The Guardian was a great movie. You put all these people together and the end result, no matter where you come from, what your sign is or your story, is an outstanding group of human beings ready to take on any challenges.


More about Carlos.


Happy To Return to the Academy

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2014) Permanent link
Quintero Photo After a long summer of being out in the fleet, most cadets are happy to return back to the Academy. I know I’m excited for a number of reasons, with the first being that I get to see my friends again. I have made great friends at the Academy that I know I will keep for a lifetime, and that is because we go through a lot together. Unlike civilian colleges, even during some summers you spend the whole time with your shipmates. This fosters friendships like no other, especially because after a while you grow more distant from your friends at home.


The latter obviously depends on how close you live to the Academy, because if you live so far that you are unable to come home once a month with ease I doubt that you’re going to keep a close relationship with friends at home. From what I have experienced, cadets that live as far as Virginia, have no problems seeing their friends and family on a monthly basis. This is also very dependent on your funds, because you can only go as far as money can take you. I’ll be honest with you that the monthly stipend will cover only your very basic necessities like to go out and eat on the weekends and perhaps buy yourself a little something. Although you should remember that most college kids don’t have money for anything anyway and the cadet is no exception. So you better pray that your parents hook you up with a little bit of money. I would suggest that you constantly remind your parents about how hard you’re working and how depressed you are at times and perhaps they will send you money. Someone wise once said “money can’t buy happiness.” Whoever said that is completely wrong and I guess he/she didn’t attend an academy. I can assure you first hand, that when the Academy takes all these privileges away, but you can buy yourself a Big Mac or a Whopper on the weekend along with some ice cream…yeah, I’m very happy.


Moving on to another reason why I am happy to be back at the Academy is that I can start school back up.


“WAIT. WHAT???” That’s what you’re asking yourself. “ARE YOU CRAZY, CARLOS?? You can’t wait to go back to school? Are you a nerd?”


I would like a chance to answer those questions and then explain myself, NO, I am not crazy, Yes, I can’t wait to go back to school and NO I am not a nerd (although I wish I was because I am currently ranked one of the last in my class for academics). Now remember, this summer I have been working hard on a cutter (boat), meaning long hours of manual labor. I enjoy a good mix between hard manual labor and classes. I tell kids all the time, why wouldn’t you want to go to college and would rather just get a job right after high school? College is probably one of the best deals that life has to offer…trust me. You get to sit on your butt ALL DAY, and listen to a professor. It doesn’t get easier than that. Then you go back to your room and sit on a chair and study. Add free food and school into the mix…life doesn’t get better than that. That is why if you may think or consider yourself lazy, then go to college.


More about Carlos.


Second Half of the Summer

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
Quintero Photo The second half of my 1/c summer has been very eventful. I had the opportunity to be a part of two different drug cases where there were narcotics on Venezuelan vessels. It was great finally getting an opportunity to do drug interdiction in the Caribbean. This mission is a more serious one in the Coast Guard because it can cause international incidents or put people in harm’s way. The personnel on the cutter I was on were very professional and took the mission seriously every step of the way. During the second part of the summer I was also able to do some migrant interdiction on the west coast of Puerto Rico. We encountered both Dominicans and Cubans. It was an unbelievable experience and unreal to think that people are willing to navigate that many miles in dangerous waters to get a chance of going to the United States. When we weren’t carrying out the mission, then we would enjoy some port calls. I got to drive the cutter into other islands in the Caribbean like St. Thomas, St. Croix and Tortola. We actually got to spend a couple of days in St. Thomas where we went to the beach and I met up with an old Academy friend who lives in St. Thomas now. I was on other islands that are unknown to people that aren’t Caribbean locals and saw some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, in part because they were so far removed from society. It was an overall great experience on a cutter based out of Puerto Rico.


I also spent about four weeks of that summer in Sector San Juan because the boat was experiencing a crew change so they needed to train other personnel and it exceeded the cutter’s maximum holding capacity. A lot of the jobs I did at sector were not as exciting as those on a cutter. My time at the sector included working in an office environment and doing paperwork; although I did have the opportunity to inspect containers that came from all over the world into Puerto Rico. The Coast Guard has the authority to inspect all the containers in the port for drugs, immigrants and other illegal substances. We didn’t find any contraband although there were a lot of random things to be found in the containers such as Styrofoam cups, mountain bikes, baseballs, plastic forks, etc. The good thing about working at sector is that the job is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for most of the days and then you are able to go home. So it is just like any other job anywhere else. This time off gave me the opportunity to go out and explore Puerto Rico with my shipmates.


More about Carlos.