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Five Lessons for the Class of 2019

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Engelhardt Photo Wow! This semester has really flown by! My sincere apologies in not blogging earlier – between lacrosse, schoolwork and extracurricular activities, blogging had been put on my proverbial back burner. To the Class of 2019 arriving here for R-Day, I was hoping to impart five lessons I learned at the Academy that might prepare you for what you can expect in your undergraduate experience. Hope you enjoy – here we go:

 

5. New England is cold: For those readers hailing from southern states – New England is cold! And it’s just not cold during those typical winter months, it honestly doesn’t get what I would consider warm (consistent mid-60s) until May. That being said, all the snow can be fun; we missed a total of three days of classes (two back-to-back) and had a few late base openings and early closings due to the inclement weather that descended on New London this winter. Just be prepared to bundle up in the wintertime!

 

4. The CGA grounds are hilly: The bluffs that the Academy are situated on offer spectacular, scenic views of the Thames River. However, these views do come at a price so be prepared to feel like you’re always walking uphill when on campus. On the bright side, the hills do work miracles for your calf muscles (as do the staircases in Chase Hall – don’t even think about using an elevator).

 

3. The Academy is kinda like Hogwarts: Silly as it may sound, CGA and the fictional wizardry school do have a lot of similarities. When you arrive you are sorted into different companies (i.e., “Houses”) where you dine, live and make the majority of your friends. Although there is no Slytherin Company here, there are rivalries that come out in inter-company sports (Quidditch, however, isn’t offered).

 

2. The summers are awesome: Back on a serious track, a lot of cadets will tell you that the CGA summers really make this place stand out as special and different than civilian schools. Gaining practical knowledge in real Coast Guard units or learning leadership with your classmates are rewarding experiences that would be tough to mimic elsewhere. Not to mention, all the new and exciting places your training will take you (I’ve gotten to go to Bermuda, France, Canada, Maine, Boston, and Key West to name a few).

 

1. The friendships you make run deep: To end on an important note, because of all the rough military training you will go through with your classmates, you will develop bonds that run deeper than any friendships that you had in high school. It is no wonder that so many cadets marry each other or are the best man or maid of honor at a classmate’s wedding. The connections I have made with people at the Academy are something that I honestly treasure the most.

 

Thanks for reading! As always, if you have any questions for me about the Coast Guard Academy, Coast Guard, or military life, feel free to shoot me an email at: James.D.Engelhardt@uscga.edu. If you are a Class of 2019er, I look forward to meeting you in the fall. Go Bears!

 

More about James.

 

Message to Delta 4/c

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Daghir Photo The following is a message I was asked to write to the 4/c cadets leaving Delta Company and going off to the operational Coast Guard for third class summer. I think that it is pretty crazy that I am about to be a 1/c cadet and am getting ready for my last summer here. I have learned so much this year alone and am preparing to take command of the drill department next semester as department head. I was Master at Arms for the department this semester and it was a lot of extra work but it was rewarding and challenging. In addition, we finished up our lacrosse season without any NEWMAC wins but we played through the season admirably and I am super excited to take on the teams we played this year as a stronger no-longer-inaugural team next year. I had a lot of fun and was humbled by the experience of moving up to varsity.

 

To the 4/c:

 

I guess I'll start by saying that it was really cool to get to know you this year and to watch you assimilate into life here at the CGA. It's strange; time has passed so quickly so I don't really feel like I have much knowledge to impart on you. But I have a few things :)

 

Know that even though this year was rough and that more roughness will likely occur in the next few, this is where you are meant to be. This isn't real life but the Academy prepares us for it. I know that I still have another year here but no matter what happens in the next 52 weeks, I know that I have become a better person, more aware of those around me and better able to handle stressful situations.

 

Don't be afraid to uphold the standard. Being accountable isn't honestly that hard and if everyone is following the rules, then everything is a lot less awkward. As a 3/c, you should take pride in being a role model for the new 4/c and everyone will appreciate your work.

 

Get excited about where you are! The next three years will go by so fast if you just embrace it and have fun. Have study parties and go to sports games and take longs when you want to do something cool. Have fun with your friends and don't get into a funk about things you can't control. I only remember the good times :)

 

Each year moves faster, so if you feel like this one flew, they all are about to pick up the pace even more. Have fun and be smart this summer, learn as much as you can.

 

Remember where you came from, Delta is awesome, but get pumped about your new company, too. We're gonna miss you! Go Bears!

 

2/c Lucy Daghir

 

More about Lucy.

 

The Skier

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Culp Photo As I shuffled my way back up to the rope tow that would drag me to the top of the hill at the base of the beautiful Alps, two words resounded in my head: this stinks. I had a pair of skis strapped to my feet for the first time during the Glee Club trip to Germany and could not for the life of me figure out why this sport is so popular here at the Academy. I was getting increasingly frustrated as the lesson went on and I was unable to successfully stop or turn on my left leg (yes, only my left). Then, eventually, everything began falling into place, and while I was far from being accomplished, I could at least make it down the hill without plowing over any children or the instructor in the process. That’s when it occurred to me – going through the Academy follows the same pattern as my ski lesson that morning. When you first sign up, it’s such an exciting opportunity! You get your gear and make plans for when you’ll report to the slopes, eagerly awaiting your training. Then, you finally meet up with your instructor and suddenly all that confidence you had goes away. Your skis feel awkward on your feet, you are tired from dragging yourself up that silly hill over and over and you fall. Constantly. And sometimes, you have to rely on someone to help you stand back up. Even after you’ve been taught the basics, you continue to have issues with actually executing the skills and keeping up with the people around you. You feel like you are falling farther and farther behind; then, things start to come together. You start figuring out where you are going wrong, and with patience, you fix those areas. Before you know it, you are zipping down that hill like you’ve been on those skis forever, and by golly, you might even be able to teach someone else the skills you’ve learned.

 

That’s pretty much the journey from Swab Summer to the school year in a nutshell. And frankly, a lot of it is tough. Chances are you’ll fall down MANY times, no matter how confident you are at the beginning, particularly during a grueling Swab Summer. It is then that your shipmates will pull you back up and that you will in turn lend them your hand when they fall. Then together, you will move on to the more advanced slopes, with even more turns and steeper hills, and even more chances to fall. The good thing about that is the increased number of opportunities to recover and learn.

 

As a rising 2/c, I am thrilled to be in the part of the ski story when I get to put those blasted mechanisms of gravity-related mockery on someone else’s feet and guide them down the slope. I only hope they don’t fall quite as often as I did over the summer! To the future cadets of the Academy, and especially to my swabs, the Class of 2019, I wish you the best of luck as you start gathering your gear for a long day in the snow.

 

More about Abby.

 

Pride and Responsibility

(Academics, Athletics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Daghir Photo Hellooooo! (That’s the way I normally greet my friends from down the hallway.)

 

So, I am writing to you from the confines of a lacrosse bus, the insides of which I have become all too familiar with! We are currently transiting back from one of our rougher games, Springfield College, and I guess spirits are as high as they could be for a team of cadets who are stuck in stop-and-go traffic at 2218 with miles to go and loads of homework waiting, all while bearing a tough loss of 17 to 1.

 

I might try to take this blog to let you know that those players that we face each week on the field see us in a light that does us justice like how the sun gives the moon justice while in its crescent phase. We have to hold our heads high because, at the end of the day, those players from other colleges step off the lax field to do some homework, go to bed, and most likely go to class around 1000 the next day, take three classes and then go to practice again. From this bus, as a team we will trek up to Chase Hall, shine our shoes (the fourth class), work on a paper, study for calculus, prep our uniforms, and set our alarms for 0555 (or 0610 if you are me and prefer to milk every last minute of sleep from the night). We go to trainings after 0620 breakfast and then begin a full day of classes at 0800. For me, as an MES major, I attend four 50-minute classes in the morning and then two in the afternoon, take fifty minutes to get down to the lacrosse field, practice for two hours, audition for the talent show, and then lock myself in the library to write a morals and ethics paper and to work on some biochem homework. I am not writing this to make people feel bad or to complain about my life, I am simply taking a reality check because losing 17-1 kind of hurts.

 

So now for the good stuff: the SUMMERS!!! I have recently found out that I will be reporting to the CGC Morgenthau in Honolulu, Hawaii for all 11 weeks of my summer training. How cool is that?! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I not only saw that I will be going to Hawaii, but that I will be going with my best friend, Hanna Jansson! We are MES majors together and had been praying that wherever we ended up it would be fun as long as we were together. We are ecstatic and have contacted our POC from the cutter and now the time will fly by through tests, projects, papers, labs, and finals. My birthday week is of course finals week and I will be gifted by a morals and ethic final on the 5th of May; I couldn’t be more pleased. I am quite busy with lacrosse, and school, and the talent show, for which I will be performing some songs, accompanied by my friend Holden on the keyboard. I am also the Master at Arms for Delta Company’s regimental review department and, as such, am privileged to inform the corps when drill is cancelled, and cursed to also be the one to ask that they be formed up on the parade field at 0650. Alas, I cannot believe that April has come and that in this month, I will be receiving my class ring as well as preparing to become a first class cadet. These years have flown and I am truly blessed to have experienced them all with my closest friends. So next time we get beat into the ground in a lacrosse game (let’s face it, it’s gonna happen), we need to hold our heads up high because when I hear that National Anthem play, I am filled with pride and responsibility, while other teams giggle, sway and speak, I am standing tall, at attention, ready to serve (and play!).

 

More about Lucy.

 

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.