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cadet blogs

The Roller Coaster Ride of a Cadet

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Just for Fun, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Corcoran Photo Life is like a roller coaster here at the Coast Guard Academy, filled with many ups, downs, lulls, and just when you think that the ride is about to end, you quickly get twisted into another direction. Lately, I have felt that my workload has taken me into a million different directions, forcing me to try to become more efficient so that I can effectively manage my academics, sports, military life and social life, all while trying to get enough sleep. I can’t lie and say that I haven’t been struggling to find a balance lately, but I think that I’m finally starting to catch up with everything.

 

Spring break was a definite help to everyone’s sanity here. The weeks before spring break are nicknamed “The Dark Ages.” This is because it is dark most of the time we’re awake, people are being overloaded with academic work, and on top of all of that, it’s the heart of winter. Not to mention, we have had an exceptionally long winter this year so I think everyone was ready to head out on spring break and escape into a warm, sun-filled abyss for a week. I was lucky enough to travel to Miami, Florida with two of my friends from school and we even took a little mini-cruise to the island of Bimini, Bahamas for three days. I definitely got a lot tanner during our break and was ready to hit the ground running when we came back to school.

 

Unfortunately for everyone at the Academy, spring break did not start out on the highest note. We were notified that two of our shipmates from the Republic of Georgia were involved in a car accident and taken from us in the beginning of our allotted leave. It was sad for everyone to hear of the passing of two amazing men, but we all knew we had to come together to get through the tragedy. Little by little, cadets started changing their profile pictures to Georgian flags on Facebook and soon enough I would say about half of all of my Facebook friends had Georgian flags as their profile pictures. It was amazing to see how quickly everyone came together for these two gentlemen. We all had the opportunity to participate in a remembrance ceremony for the two fallen cadets on the Wednesday after we came back to school and I must say it was the most beautiful ceremony I have ever been to. After the ceremony, I realized how proud I am to say that I go to the Coast Guard Academy and that I am a member of the long blue line, the United States Coast Guard. It is truly amazing how special our small service is.

 

Not to end on a somber note, but if you end up attending the United States Coast Guard Academy, you will soon realize how close-knit everyone is. It may drive you nuts at times because you live in the same building as 900 other people and the same 900 other people are the people you play sports with, eat with, learn with, grow with, and pretty much do EVERYTHING with. However, these are the people who will have your back through everything and be there for you during both tough and happy times. I will forever cherish everyone I have met at the Coast Guard Academy and in the operational Coast Guard because they are all extremely special to me.

 

More about Samantha.

 

Mr. Friedman Visit

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Stowes Photo Hey, CGA blog readers! It is almost spring break time here and that means a flurry of trainings, corps-wide lectures, and, most dreaded, midterms! Despite everything on our plates as we approach break, spirits have been pretty high at the Academy. This past week, we had health and wellness week, so we got to try out some awesome smoothies in the wardroom, sleep in a few days, and we even had a dodge ball tournament. Also, the fourth class are starting to take Boards, their cumulative indoctrination test, and many of them passed on the first time around!

 

With everything going on, I could write forever. However, I will focus on one day that I thought was very interesting. Mr. Thomas Friedman, an internationally renowned columnist for the New York Times, came to the Academy to give a lecture. Mr. Friedman has written six books, mainly about globalization, which is the increasing inter-connectedness of world affairs. He is a very engaging man and his writing provokes you to think about how technology is bringing the world closer together than ever before. If you haven’t read his work, I recommend skimming some reviews on the internet because it is definitely worthwhile.

 

During Mr. Friedman’s visit, I had the pleasure of sitting in on an exclusive lecture for some government majors. During that class, I was really impressed with Mr. Friedman’s work, his character, and humor. His public speaking and writing are presented in a manner that anyone can understand and he is very in touch with his audience.

 

After the class, I had the privilege of leading Mr. Friedman on a tour of our barracks. Needless to say, I was very nervous. I spent most of the morning before the tour familiarizing myself with his work, because I anticipated having to answer questions about what he had written. However, Mr. Friedman was more interested in learning about the Academy and the cadet experience. Like many of our visitors, he was not intimately familiar with what the Coast Guard does and he didn’t know much about the Academy. It was a pleasure leading him around the barracks, discussing cadet life, our opportunities, and mission. He was very attentive and interested in learning everything. I hope he will write a column about us!

 

During the evening, the corps gathered in Leamy to hear Mr. Friedman speak. I was drawn in by his presentation, and it made me think a lot about the United States’ role in the future and how the Coast Guard will factor into the accelerating pace of globalization. The cadet reaction to Mr. Friedman was impressive. Cadets, even non-government majors, seemed to like his lecture.

 

I am so thankful that I go to the Academy because I realize that we have outstanding opportunities here. The Academy does a great job developing us into well rounded officers, with knowledge in issues outside of our majors, and, as always, the Academy is dedicated to molding us into the officers of the future.

 

If you want to know more or have any questions about my previous blogs, please feel free to email me at Hunter.D.Stowes@uscga.edu.

 

I wish the best to applicants, prospective cadets, and parents!

 

More about Hunter.

 

Winter Triathlon Training

(Athletics, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Frost Photo So, somewhere along the way last semester, I decided to sign up for Half Ironman Florida this coming April. I was on the triathlon team at West Point and I had fallen back in love with the sport. What better way to push myself in a sport I love than to sign up for a race that I had never done? All semester I trained and raced with the team at West Point, but never did it dawn on me just how hard it was going to be to train in the Connecticut winter. One thing is for sure; training for a triathlon in Connecticut is not the same as it was back in high school when I was first introduced to the sport. Sunglasses and tank tops are replaced with beanies, gloves, leggings, and fleece. Instead of walking down the beach in Florida for an open-water swim, I must trek through the Connecticut snow for morning swim practice before sunrise. Biking along the Intercoastal Waterway is replaced with the steamy bike room. It is nice, however, to go for a run and not come back drenched in sweat and boiling from the Florida sun, and up until the past snow storm we were able to get in some long runs.

 

While practicing in Connecticut in January cannot compare to the weather my parents say we have back home, I still find joy in the little things, like the pool water being the perfect temperature and the chance to ride my own bike on the trainer. However, Florida simply cannot compare to training with a team and alongside my best friend who will race with me in April. This offers me that stress relief at the end of the day, but without friends to share that with it would quickly get lonely. I am so thankful to be able to train with others and that is priceless.

 

More about Christi.

 

Snow Days on Snow Days

(Just for Fun, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Stowes Photo I hope you are staying warm, CGA blog readers. New London has been freezing cold and snowy for the last two weeks! Last week, base was closed for two straight days, which is almost unheard of. Then, we got another snow day this week!

 

Last week, the snow was so bad that for the first day, we weren’t allowed out of the barracks until midafternoon and that was only so we could go workout. For the morning, we were stuck inside. Luckily, since base was closed, we were able to sleep in, relax, and do work uninterrupted. On our second day off, we were able to go outside and play in the snow. I always enjoy the first big snowstorm because some the 4/c from the South have never seen snow before. It’s funny to watch them have snowball fights and build snowmen. Personally, I went out and enjoyed an awesome game of rugby in the snow or snugby for short. I was able to get a bunch of the rugby team together and we went down to the football field to play in about two feet of snow! It was really fun and tiring trying to run through all the snow. I had a great time overall, except the times I got tackled face first into the snow. That was cold!

 

This week, the snow day could not have come at a better time. I was away all weekend in Boston for a mock trial competition and when I returned the Super Bowl was on. I got back from Massachusetts just in time to watch my beloved Patriots win the game. Sorry Seahawks fans! What a game! Anyway, the snow day was great because I had all day to catch up on the work I didn’t do over the weekend. We were stuck inside the barracks again until the midafternoon, so it was nice to have free time to work at my own pace.

 

On a different note, while snow days are a great time to relax, it is important to keep the big picture in mind. Our senior leadership at the Academy has a tough decision to make every time there is a winter storm in the forecast. Our leaders have to be aware of the faculty, staff, and base employees that work here in addition to cadets. Their safety is very important, so I appreciate that they are considered when the decision to cancel school is made. Also, our leaders show that they care about us because they have to make sure we are fed and that there are personnel here to take care of us if someone has a medical emergency. Furthermore, it is difficult to cancel school because we have to cover a lot of material in our courses and snow days usually mean playing catch-up. With so many days off, we are all pushing hard to cover material.

 

Overall, I’m happy to have a snow day but I also appreciate that our leaders are so conscientious about the other people on base. It can be easy to forget the big picture.

 

If you have questions about my blogs, feel free to email me any time at Hunter.D.Stowes@uscga.edu.

 

More about Hunter.

 

A Semester at Naval Academy

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Engelhardt Photo Greetings and Happy New Year! I apologize for the large time gap between my blogs, but I got tied up with school work, extracurricular activities, and general life at the Naval Academy. As I begin my spring semester again back at my home Academy, I thought that it was only fitting that I reflect on my time in Annapolis, and offer some quick differences and similarities between the two academies that I have had the privilege to attend.

 

As mentioned in my August 2014 blog, I can’t state enough how welcoming the Brigade of Midshipmen at the Naval Academy was, and especially 16th Company. They accepted a new classmate with open arms and were quick to make me part of their daily lives, which I am extremely grateful for. I truly think that the connections that I made at USNA are as deep as the connections that I have made with some of my classmates here at CGA, and I don’t think that it is over-exaggerated to say that I have made several lifelong friends.

 

It’s amazing how similar life at the two academies is – they truly are closer to being the same than they are different. Both schools are obviously military, so they have similar things that come with that – formations, mandatory trainings and classes, inspections, military drill and reviews, etc. They also have similar restrictions on your personal life such as limited times that you can leave the campus. Both schools also put a strong emphasis on sports and physical fitness, and emphasis that is rarely found at any civilian college. They both also both foster strong friendships between classmates and are home to truly outstanding people.

 

However, for all the things that the academies do have in common, they also have several differences. Most of the differences I feel are brought about because of the different sizes and locations of the schools.

 

The Naval Academy is approximately four times larger in size, and with that size comes opportunities in academics and the community that I feel that the Coast Guard Academy cannot replicate. As example, it’s hard for us to go directly to medical school out of CGA, which is possible at Navy, because we are needed immediately in the Coast Guard fleet. The size also helps the Naval Academy have a larger presence in the surrounding community. However, a benefit of the Coast Guard Academy’s smaller size is that it allows you to truly know all your classmates, which is impossible at Navy. I feel that having stronger bonds with your classmates is one of the things I truly like about the Coast Guard Academy as compared to Navy.

 

The Naval Academy’s location in Annapolis, located less than an hour away from our nation’s capital, creates an influx of visitors, both civilian and military, that is unheard of at the Coast Guard Academy. There are multiple tourist groups that tour the Yard in Annapolis daily, while at the CGA there might be an occasional tour group once every couple of weeks. Additionally, it is a lot easier for higher level military officials to make the trip from D.C. to Annapolis than the sojourn up to New London, and for that reason you see more brass at Navy as compared to Coast Guard.

 

Overall, I really enjoyed my time at Navy. It was great to get a different perspective on the military and Academy life that would not have been offered to me if I did not take the opportunity. I will not soon forget marching on at the Army-Navy football game, dining out with 16th Company, nor the outstanding professors and friends that I made. That being said, I know in my heart that CGA is the school for me, and the Coast Guard is the military branch for me. Despite the colder weather, I am definitely happy to be among my classmates and friends back in New London this spring. As always, if you have any questions about the Coast Guard Academy, the Coast Guard, the military, or any other subject that you would value my insight, I invite you to email me at James.D.Engelhardt@uscga.edu. Until next time, Semper Paratus and Go Bears!

 

More about James.