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CADET BLOGS

cadet blogs

The Major Leagues

(Academics, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo My, oh, my! The school year’s ramped up so quickly that I missed a month! Well, y’all can’t get rid of me quite that easily, so here I am! Part of the reason I’ve been so busy is thanks to the return of that beautiful creature with which all Academy students are way too familiar – schoolwork! But, it’s a lot more entertaining for me this year. As a third class, cadets finally start taking classes that are specific to their major. For me as a Marine and Environmental Sciences major, those classes include meteorology, marine biology, and differential equations. Third class wind up with very heavy schedules because of that, but what else is new? It’s worth it to experience lab periods where we go out on a boat to collect plankton samples, or spend class time going through weather briefs! I love being a part of my major, and in talking to my classmates in other programs, I know they are also having a good time! It’s nice to finally start studying those topics for which I’ve been waiting since my first year here!

 

The Marine and Environmental Sciences major is one of the smaller ones, with only around 30 or so people in my class following its program. I consider it very valuable to Coast Guard operations – after all, to work in the ocean, we need to understand its characteristics, and to guard its inhabitants (as is one of our explicitly stated missions!), we have to expand our knowledge of how the environment works and what is threatening it. If you have any questions about being an MES major, or just Academy life in general, please feel free to email me at Abigail.A.Culp@uscga.edu! Beat Kings Point!

 

More about Abby.

 

Back at the Academy

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Ritchie Photo After my summer training program, I had three weeks of leave. I went home and spent time with my family and high school friends. I thought three weeks would be short compared to my 11 week summer program, but it was a lot different than any previous summer for me. For the past few years, I’ve had swim practices, lifeguarding, swim lessons, and summer reading projects. This year, I didn’t have to worry about any of that. It was weird because all my friends were working on internships or at minimum wage jobs, and I had more free time than ever.

 

When leave ended, it was back to the Academy. I thought it was going to be a tough adjustment, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected. I remember last year, Cadet Administrative Processing (CAP) week was really stressful as a 4/c. As a 3/c, it was a lot easier. Now that I can look around the halls, talk to people like normal, and look at my food, it’s a completely different experience. I spent CAP week attending trainings and welcome back speeches and packing into my new room and company. As a 3/c, I act as a role model to a 4/c. Through the week, I helped my 4/c get the signatures of all the upper-class in the company (a task every 4/c must complete) and then helped him study indoc.

 

Now, I’ve finished my first week of school. I am taking 18 credits this semester, but it already seems like a lot less work than last year. It is 1.5 credits less to be exact, but I don’t have any labs or math classes. I am starting to take major specific classes now, and as a Management major, that means a lot more focus on writing papers than solving math problems. My favorite class so far is Intro to Business and Management. I’m looking forward to seeing what this semester holds for me, as I know it will be completely different from 4/c year.

 

If you have any questions about any of my blogs, please feel free to contact me at Sarah.R.Ritchie@uscga.edu.

 

More about Sarah.

 

Remarkable Transformation

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Pourmonir Photo I would like to start by saying that the weirdest part of this year is definitely being called ma’am. It is believed that the word ma’am was first used in 1668. In today’s society the definition of the word ma’am is a word used to politely reference a queen, a woman that you do not know, or one that ranks above you in the military or police. So my first thought is that I am not royalty, so this word ma’am should not apply. Then when the fourth class continued to greet me as ma’am, my next thought is that they know my name so clearly this common courtesy should not apply either. That leaves me with only one option. They must be greeting me for the position I hold. My thoughts entering this year were that I no longer had to complete the menial tasks of a fourth class cadet, but that my ranking among the corps of cadets had not really shifted. This fallacy was quickly proven false, as I entered the year as Ms. Pourmonir. This sign of respect is used throughout every branch of the military. It still baffled me that one year could change so much. Not only did I become a third class cadet, but I now have responsibility. Not the fourth class kind that requires taking out the trash, but the kind that involves being a role model for those around me and setting standards for others to follow.

 

This school year came with a lot of changes, but the biggest for me was this. Being a role model and having the chance to change someone’s life. Helping them through what some believe to be the hardest year for cadets at the United States Coast Guard Academy. I have two fourth class cadets that I share the responsibility of training and developing. I am in a place now where I can learn the fundamentals of leadership, through experience rather than in a classroom with a whiteboard. This leadership experience transforms each cadet into someone who will one day be leading the men and women of the United States Coast Guard. I am honored to have this opportunity, and wish everyone was able to experience the same remarkable transformation that we learn here at the Academy.

 

More about Keemiya.

 

Small Boat Station Life

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Ritchie Photo For the second half of my summer training program, I went to small boat station Ponce de Leon Inlet in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Officers in the Coast Guard don’t get stationed at small boat stations, so this was the only opportunity I would get to experience one. My friend, Katie Neubig, and I were lucky enough to be stationed together, and we had a blast in our six weeks there. We earned our Communications Watchstander qualifications in the first two weeks and then spent the next weeks trying to get boat crew sign-offs, standing watch, and helping the crew around the station.

 

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, we and the crew ran, played ultimate Frisbee, or surfed in the morning before boat checks. The work day went from around 0730 to 1500. Day-workers were done after the work day; people on duty had to stay at the station all night. Katie and I lived on the station, but we alternated which of us day-worked each day, so one of us could technically leave after 1500. Usually we just ended up staying at the station and catching up on sleep, though. We had our fun on the weekends. We had the opportunity to go to Disney World and a NASCAR race. For the NASCAR race, we were given free tickets and went to participate in the flag unfurling ceremony on July 5. It ended up being rained out, but we got to go back the day after in civilian clothes to watch the postponed race since we had the tickets. While in uniform on the first day, we went to victory lane and ran into a group of men who each had a medal of honor. We were star struck. These were real American heroes. We looked one of them up, and found out they’d fought in Vietnam. I think Sergeant First Class Gary Littrell ended up saying, “Gentlemen, start your engines!” the next day.

 

The most exciting thing that happened at Station Ponce while we were there was a migrant case. It is unusual to have migrants around central Florida, but we had a case of Haitian migrants one night. It was a weekend, so Katie and I were off. When we arrived at the station, there was only one crew member there, standing the communications watch. She asked us to come help her and explained the case to us. I relieved her at 2000 and stood watch until 0300 the next morning when Katie relieved me. I found it so fascinating to listen to the case progress over the radio and log all the information I heard. It was awesome to be a part of a real Coast Guard mission.

 

More about Sarah.

 

Returning Home

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Corbett Photo It was a long 142 days to be away from home. Then again I am only from Philly so I don’t have much room to talk as there are cadets from Alaska and other faraway lands. As I ventured out this summer, I kept track of what I needed to do to finally arrive home. I started my journey in Milwaukee. A small station, but a great station. I drove 45-foot and 25-foot boats that could zoom through the water and slice through waves at speeds upwards of 50 mph. (45 knots for those who are nautical.) I saved a life. I lifeguarded for four years in high school and had pulled struggling swimmers to the side, but this was different. A man’s life depended on the training I had. The “wealth” of knowledge one could accumulate in a whole year being in the Coast Guard. I sat in the radio room and answered the call and I sent out our boats with our crew. Everyone knew their position and there I was the rookie, calm, collected and managing the pickup of a 52 year old man who fell into the Milwaukee river system. I did my job and a man’s life was saved.

 

I was pepper sprayed…yes military-grade pepper sprayed, voluntarily. Probably one of the worst experiences of my life, but it was something that needed to be done. There is oh so little room to expand on all stories so I will leave this one to another day.

 

I left the station in high spirits and boarded the CGC Eagle. I knew Eagle was the last part of my trip. I sailed from Miami through awful weather, long midnight watches, and trainings on trainings, until we reached Nova Scotia. Two port calls down and few more to go. Then came Newfoundland, where I scaled coastal cliffs and jumped into iceberg-filled water, and then NYC where I would see my family for the first time in several months. One port call left. I scaled 15 stories in whipping winds and rain aboard the tall ship Eagle. It was the job that needed to be done and another step closer to that goal. Eyes on the prize and I just kept my thoughts toward that last sight of land.

 

The shores of Bourne, Massachusetts came in sight and I knew my summer was coming to an end. As I disembarked, I looked back on the summer with friends and I came to a conclusion that can best be expressed in the quote, “No one ever said it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.” I stepped out of my father’s car and onto the beaches of Jersey where I spent my summers growing up, and where this leave would be spent. The sand lit up beneath my feet as my weight squeezed the water out. I ignored the scientific reason and preferred to think that sand was welcoming me home. As if I was royalty returning back to my land after a long journey.

 

More about Shane.