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cadet blogs

Summer at Home

(Academics, Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Schroeder Photo One of the most coveted things while attending the Academy is to go home. The Academy, and its summers, can be very strenuous (but still fun) and often cadets do not have the chance to go home very much. Being from Montana, I get to go home only twice a year: during Christmas and summer leave periods, so I cherish every moment.

 

After spending the summer in Alaska, which was a lot cooler than I thought, it was nice to come home. Montana is more of a desert climate, so it can get above 100 degrees in the summer, yet down to the -40s in the winter. It has been a hot summer here, so as soon as I got home, I was able to spend time on the lake with my family. I also took a camping trip to Glacier National Park with my family, and of course have had the opportunity to see and hang out with all of my friends from home.

 

Although being home is nice, being at the Academy causes cadets to change and mature in a lot of ways because they are away from the comforts and securities that family can offer. Being at home is pretty eye-opening because it can show just how far you have come and how much you have matured compared to the “traditional” college student. The Academy simply gives you opportunities and experiences that other schools cannot, and makes you step out of your comfort zone quite often. So, although being home is enjoyable, I actually can’t wait to go back to school, see my friends, start the rugby season, and start my final year of school.

 

This fall is going to be busy. I’m taking some pretty difficult classes (organic chemistry, biochemistry…do I need say more?) and I am captain of the rugby team so I will have a lot on my plate. Even though it looks like it might be a tough semester, I’m still excited to go back to see all my friends because, at the Academy, friends are family and everyone creates a huge support network to help each other out. I think that is one of the biggest silver linings here – the lifelong friendships that you build. There really is nothing like it.

 

More about Jade.

 

Leading Ourselves, Leading Others

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Keeley Photo Happy Coast Guard Day! I am almost done with my 1/c summer and must say that I am surprised by how much I’ve learned about life in the fleet. My summer began on CGC Waesche, a 418’ cutter out of Alameda, California where I spent 10 days afloat for a proficiency cruise. This is just a trip for the cutter to ensure that its crew knows what they are doing and how to properly drive the ship before it goes out on a long patrol. From there, I attended a one-week leadership program called Rocky Mountain High, a Christian program consisting of hiking, camping, rock climbing, and whitewater rafting in Colorado! Finally, I made my way onto the 270’ CGC Tahoma where I am as I write this. The Tahoma is currently underway but I am not allowed to say where. I’ll just say that it has taken me to a place I have never been before and have greatly enjoyed.

 

It’s definitely been a busy summer bouncing from place to place. The main lessons I am taking away, however, are not simply what to expect on a Coast Guard cutter. Rather, I’ve learned many valuable lessons on how to enter the real world after hanging out with ensigns as they arrived at their new units. I was able to help many of them move into their apartments, get settled, and figure out how to check into their units. Many issues arose that I would have never thought to prepare for. I have seen everything from not being able to prove that you receive a paycheck from the Coast Guard, to checking into your apartment when your roommate hasn’t submitted their paperwork and has essentially locked you out, to regular insurance issues.

 

The Academy may prepare us to lead others but we also have to be ready to lead ourselves and to face stressful situations with courage and ease. My former shipmates all handled themselves very well when, if it were me, I would have been quite panicky. One ensign was told, on her way to her new apartment with her belongings in tow, that she wouldn’t be able to move in for another two months. She was forced to live in a hotel for 10 days, find a storage unit for her things, and then stay the rest of the time in her room on the cutter right up until it went underway. She had only about two days to move into her apartment when it was finally ready before having to leave for three months. Yet, she is doing fine now and has learned a lot from it. Things come up that are completely out of our control. As future officers and leaders, we just have to accept what happens, try our best to remedy the situation, and stay positive for everyone around us.

 

I never expected to take so much away from this summer. I can’t say I feel completely prepared for life after the Academy but am more aware of what to anticipate and now know to prepare for the uncontrollable. Finally, the last lesson I took away is pretty obvious but still ignored by many. That is to use your friends from the Academy. Everyone is going to have issues and those issues may seem like the world to them until they realize they have a support system of friends dealing with the same things. Many, if not all, of the new ensigns I was able to hang out with made it through their troubles with the help of their classmates and family. I love knowing that I will have a support net under me when I leave the Academy. Until then, we can all make the best of it this year!

 

~Melissa

 

More about Melissa.

 

Already Missing Mom

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Daghir Photo Good evening from the Mother Thetis. I'm not sure where the "mother" came from but my guess is that it follows the mythological story: Thetis is a river goddess, originally admired by the gods but when a certain prophecy is unveiled, they drop her, and wed her against her will to a mortal. Long story short, Achilles is her son and she gets mad that he is not of the gods, so personally dips him into a magical River Styx (holding his heel). His good buddy and brother-in-arms is Patroclus. These are, in fact, the two names of our ready boats: Achilles and Patroclus. So now that you’ve had a nice little history lesson, I will get onto the good stuff.

 

Okay, in 10 days and a wake up, we will be moored up back in Key West, and Hanna and I will be set free for three weeks of leave before we begin our very last year at the CGA. It's hard to believe and amazing that we are so close to the end of our summer training.

 

It's time to put in our Cadet Evaluation Report bullets to the ensign evaluating our summer training and I was surprised by all of the great things I came up with. I have to say that leaving the Thetis is going to be really bittersweet and even though we were underway for our entire summer training period, I don’t think we could have had a better time. Hanna and I have saved a sea turtle; interdicted drugs; traveled through the Panama canal; stopped in Central America; and seen water spouts, lightning storms, sharks, whales, dolphins, flying fish, shooting stars, a meteor, jumping sting rays, sunrises, sunsets, boat launches, boat chases, helicopter takeoffs and landings, a sloth, and a hot dog eating contest! I qualified Quartermaster of the Watch and Basic Damage Control, and am still working on Advanced Damage Control and underway OOD. We learned our way around Panama City and tasted some weird Costa Rican fruit. We had a swim call (in the same water as the sharks) and dressed out for every firefighting drill all summer. Hanna and I played trivia on the captain's team, and we managed to keep the mood light wherever we were and whatever we were doing. I had a really great summer and am so happy to have spent it the way I did. I would consider going to a 270' next year but I think I'd rather go to Boston (I don't think I've stopped sweating since I got off the plane in Key West). I earned a total of five nicknames, fell out of my rack once, messed up most of the pipes I made, and met a lot of really cool, experienced, helpful, caring people who love doing their jobs and being in the Coast Guard, all of whom took me into their home and taught me all they could in two months.

 

So, I have to say that this year is off to a good start. I am excited to lead the Regimental Review Department of Delta Company and to play lacrosse and cheer for the Bears (and fit in some time for school), but I am already missing the Mother Thetis and know that while I'm in some random class this year, my mind will wonder what she's up to.

 

More about Lucy.

 

My Love of Aviation

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Roesch Photo So it has been forever since I’ve written an entry, but it has all been because I’ve been so busy! My 2/c year flew by and before I knew it, I became a 1/c cadet. Wow…that is something I never expected to say (at least so soon)! Life really turned around after 2/c summer and became exponentially better – so much better that time is just racing right by! Even now as I’m writing this entry, I only have one more week left of my 1/c summer training. The next time I will be doing actual fleet things will be after I graduate and am an ensign – now THAT is a scary thought!

 

This summer has by far been the greatest experience I’ve had as a cadet. I’ve been at Air Station New Orleans for the past month and absolutely love life. Last year during my 2/c summer in the Cadet Aviation Training Program (CATP), a one-week “intro” into aviation, I really fell in love with flying and it got me super motivated to become a pilot. I remember thinking while I was there, “This would be really awesome to do for my 1/c summer!” Now having checked that box and experienced pilot life I can say wholeheartedly, “This would be really awesome to do for my entire career!” Needless to say, I will be applying for flight school once the firsties start putting in their billet choices. The possibility of being at an air station and being involved with the aviation community makes me so happy and excited. How many people can say that about their job right after graduating college?

 

I could literally talk forever about how much I love flying and aviation, so I will just leave it at that! Aside from that, I’m looking forward to heading back to the Academy and starting my final year as an undergraduate. It has been a long time coming (since I went to college for a year before coming to the CGA) and I’m ready to move on! But I look forward to all of the milestones 1/c year will have. It will be the last year I am in such close proximity to my friends, so I plan on taking every opportunity to enjoy the time I have left living next door or right around the corner from my best buddies. I am still in disbelief. I am writing this entry because I felt like my time at the Academy would never end, but now I can really see the light at the end of the tunnel and I cannot wait to start my next adventure.

 

More about Allie.

 

The End of the Beginning

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Daghir Photo Greetings from the Thetis! I know that you may think the title of this blog entry is a little wacky; normally people use the opposite of these chronological terms, but hear me out! I am coming up on the last 20 days of my Thetis adventure. At this point, I have become comfortable with the crew and the boat, aware of most of the evolutions that occur underway on an Eastern Pacific ocean patrol, and all of the moving parts finally connected in my mind (at least on a basic level). I have stood break in watches from the engine room (oiler and security), up to the combat/intelligence side, up to the bridge, where I have spent the majority of my time (as Quarter Master of the Watch, OOD and Conn). Because I went to summer school my third class summer, I was never before immersed into shipboard life that will most likely be mine in the coming year. The largest success of my summer, if not seeing a live sloth in the Panamanian rainforest, is my level of comfort and familiarity with life afloat. This "great" success may come across as menial, but living in 270 feet in the middle of the ocean with over 100 souls is not something to which most people are accustomed. Standing watch every eight hours and participating in damage control drills, as well as fulfilling collateral duties certainly makes the time pass quickly, but takes some getting used to. I also try to still be creative and stay active in my fitness and intellectual indulgences (working out and reading/writing). I am beginning to get the hang of it and will certainly appreciate the scheduling secrets I have found here next year.

 

I do plan to go afloat next summer. I have enjoyed my time on Thetis and have made relationships and connections that I believe will be long lasting throughout my career in the Coast Guard. I have to say that the crew is incredible. Every day, their kindness and willingness to improve my time on board, or to teach me something new, has astounded me, up from the seamen and firemen, to the petty officers, chiefs, and officers. I have been continually surprised, I am pleased to say, by the help I have received, the advice I have been administered, and the concern and legitimate interest I have been shown. I have fun standing watch, finding myself laughing harder than I thought possible at things that only the four people on the bridge would find funny, probably because we were standing up there for hours together, sweating through our ODUs, teaching new crew members how to steer the ship and find contacts. I have learned more than I probably did all semester, or at least it feels that way. For the past two months, I have been drinking from a fire hose of knowledge, and it hasn't stopped yet! If I am lucky enough to get a crew half as good as the one on the Thetis, I will be more than happy with my ensign billet. I guess I just never expected the crew of my firstie summer cutter to actually care about my cadet-self enough to teach me something, and to give me an unforgettable experience. It seems sentimental, and I have time on board yet, but even from this point, I can see the advances made in my professional persona. I am excited for my next year of school because I'll finally be able to drive on base, take on some responsibility, continue to take classes (that I have already used a lot in the fleet this summer: waves and tides, meteorology, nautical science, and even creative writing). I have to say that if time skipped this year, and I was suddenly an ensign on board a cutter, I would feel comfortable with that and eager to get my career going. It will be weird going back to school where the rules will seem remarkably strict and at times silly and the consequences different from now. In the fleet if you make a mistake, you will be chastised by a chief, or an officer, scolded, and will be a little embarrassed, learning your lesson through mentoring and example. At school, we get demerits, sometimes without a lesson learned.

 

Sorry for the lengthy entry, but I have a lot to say on the matter. Through it all, I wouldn’t change a thing because from this extremely diverse summer experience, I pull a greater understanding of what I have in store for me when I finally make it to graduation. So full circle: this summer has been and is a window, from which I can see what lies ahead. I have been awarded a taste of freedom and responsibility, of what I am actually training for as I spend one last year trudging from academic building to academic building, going to corps-wide lectures and taking the PFE, this is what is coming. And I think I like it. And I'm excited to start for real.

 

So, until next time,
1/c Lucy Daghir
Lucy.M.Daghir@uscga.edu

 

More about Lucy.