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CADET BLOGS

cadet blogs

Every Angle of the “College Experience”

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Mills Photo As I looked on at the excitement that the first class cadets had this past Billet Night when they received orders to their first unit, I began to examine my college experience while closing in on only a year left of my undergraduate degree. I have been fortunate enough to attend civilian college, preparatory school and the Academy. All three of these institutions offered different skills and lessons that have shaped me into the person I am today. My first college experience was at the University of South Florida. I knew that, being a shy person, I should join a small team to make friends at this huge college of over 48,000 students. I joined the crew team and a few clubs I found interesting around campus. I started by taking 15 credits and was in charge of my own schedule, which was pretty great since I had a job a Walgreens. This was my first taste of independence and it felt great. Being in control of my own schedule allowed me to make social plans and explore Florida’s vast array of theme parks and tourist traps at my leisure. As the semester progressed, I began to realize just how much independence I really had. Since I was paying for school, teachers did not really mind if I did not show up to the auditorium lectures of 500+ students and I was never forced to see the teacher if I did not understand a lesson and I mistakenly, in hindsight, did not have a study group of people from my classes. These conditions ultimately led to my grades not being the best reflection of my capabilities. I really did enjoy the beautiful lawns full of people playing ultimate Frisbee and enjoying the sun, climbing campus trees and being exposed to so many different types of people and ideas on a daily basis. However, I knew that if I wanted to make the most of my college experience and of my potential, I needed to find a place that I was invested in enough to want to do my best every day, both academically and morally.

 

I reapplied to the Coast Guard Academy and received an appointment to one of the Coast Guard Academy’s preparatory schools, Georgia Military College. This was such a great year! My best friend and I reminisce about that time frequently. I was able to learn about the Army and their missions and start creating good study habits with a prescribed course schedule. This experience forced me to be more accountable and think about my actions because now I was gaining an education off taxpayers’ dollars; I wanted to make them proud and show that the Academy had made a good choice in choosing me. This time in my life also allowed me to start deciding what was important for my future and allow me to better acquaint myself with what the Coast Guard actually does and how I could see myself fitting into this organization. One short year later, I made it to the Academy. What a challenge I faced! Some of the hardest things I have had to deal with professionally, emotionally, and mentally have occurred while I have been at the Academy. My time is no longer my own, as I have a short 200-week program to turn me into a service-ready ensign in the Coast Guard fleet. I have matured greatly in these past few years because I have learned to also consider others that I work with and affect, as well as understand the great opportunity I have been given, which I have been very fortunate to receive.

 

To sum it all up, USF allowed me the most autonomy and I was able to practice my independence. But, my successes and failures were my own and there wasn’t necessarily anyone there to back me up if and when I needed it. Preparatory school was a great way to get to know other services and affirm my decision in choosing the Coast Guard. The Academy is one of the most challenging but rewarding experiences I have had thus far. I am learning each day and it is a continual process. I am also a part of a community and we succeed and fail together; I do not have to do anything alone. And although the Academy owns most of my time, it really allows me to think of how I will use the time I do have to myself and to make better use of that time. I am so fortunate to have stumbled upon the Academy. It is a unique experience and it may not be for everyone, but I hope my insight to both civilian and military college gave you some food for thought!

 

More about Sydney.

 

Thanksgiving is for Family and Friends

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Sakowicz Photo The greatest thing about the Coast Guard Academy is not the beautiful river view, or the extremely devoted teachers, it is the family you get when you join. On R-Day you have 30 brothers and sisters in your company and a thousand cadets in the corps that have your back. With each cadet, teacher, officer, and sponsor parent, you gain their entire family as well, and are accepted as one of their own.

 

As a cadet that lives relatively close to the Academy, I have, on many occasions, told my parents that not only was I coming home, but my entire entourage would be joining me as well. No grunts or anger from my mother, just how many blankets and packages of Oreos was she going to need to buy. My home is no longer my home, but a home-away-from-home for all of my friends that live on the West Coast. My two closest friends no longer ask me when I am going home, but call my parents asking if they can crash for the weekend, even if I am not going to be there.

 

Thanksgiving is one of the better examples of cadet adoption. This year my wonderful parents are managing to fit in seven cadets from both the Coast Guard and the Air Force Academy into their home. Thanksgiving is one of the three holidays I get to see my entire extended family, which can be anywhere from 15 to 30 people at a table. Our family tradition starts with a turkey trot, which I am so excited to share with my friends. My cousin is a Division I runner at U- Albany and one of my Coasties is one of the fastest on our cross country team. My family has a small pool on who will take first. My brother and his Air Force friends will blast past the rest of us, saying something about the air being so much easier to breathe. All that matters is when the last of us cross the finish line, there will be a group of my friends and family in matching Flash t-shirts cheering as hard as they can. Dinner will be similar, with every member cooking something different, from the turkey, (and the backup turkey my Dad got before we left), to my aunt’s corn and saltine chowder, the cadets cleaning all the dishes and chasing the smaller kids around the yard. When we all fight over chairs and couches in my aunt’s living room, there is no difference between my friends and my biological family, they are all just my family.

 

More about Emily Rose.

 

Thanksgiving Away From Home

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo The Coast Guard Academy is a wonderfully diverse collection of people. We have cadets studying here who hail not only from all corners of the United States, but from the globe as well! Unfortunately, that geographic dispersion can make one week of leave in particular a challenge for cadets from faraway places: Thanksgiving. In this month of the Military Family, that pain of being separated from your family, especially during a holiday that is traditionally revered as a celebration of such, is heightened a little bit more. The reality is that many cadets don’t get to travel home for Thanksgiving, simply because they live too far away. And speaking from experience, it is tough to imagine your family sharing that time without you there.

 

And yet, if you were to walk through the halls of Chase during the Thanksgiving holiday, you would hear the cacophonies and chaos of… silence. Not a cadet to be seen. If I’ve just been talking about all of these cadets who can’t go home, why isn’t Chase filled with their presence on that fourth Thursday? Simple. It’s because the military family that we are celebrating this month takes a unique form in the lives of cadets. In fact, you could venture to say a cadet has multiple military families: our own families, then those who have adopted us and care for us over the four years we study here.

 

One example of that latter is the Crabtree family. Carl and Christy are the field leaders for the Officer’s Christian Fellowship chapter at the Academy; and during Thanksgiving, they embrace numerous cadets as part of their own family at their home, Shepherd’s Fold. The house is designed to be a retreat center for OCF, and as such can welcome a plethora of cadets at any time of the year; weekends, holidays, summer trainings. Thanksgiving is a particularly lively time for the household. In the past, Carl and Christy have hosted international cadets from such countries as Rwanda and Honduras, and other cadets whose distance from home precludes travelling back to their families. I’m always amazed at the love they show for all of us here. When I asked Carl about opening up his house, he told me, “My wife and I enjoy the privilege of mentoring cadets and giving them a home away from home. Each Thanksgiving we are blessed to have some cadets that do not journey home.” Read that again: blessed. If you want to talk about a loving adoptive military family…there you have it. It’s incredible to see how close these adoptive families grow to us, and how easily they assume a special spot in your own heart. Lives change because of our adoptive families. I am forever grateful for the love and support of my family back home; but in addition, I realize I’m extremely blessed to have met the families who take me and my classmates under their wings when my parents aren’t right there; people who, just by letting me into their house, have become people I trust and care about. I think Carl hits the nail on the head: “We adopt them for the week and some of those relationships last a lifetime.”

 

More about Abby.

 

Life as an Electrical Engineer

(Academics, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Pourmonir Photo I once heard that if you love what you do, then you will never work a day in your life. While this used to sound like one of those sayings that doesn’t make much sense, I have found the truth in this adage since I entered one of the smallest majors at the Academy. While there are not very many of us, we are definitely the closest and proudest major. The Electrical Engineering Department is a family here at the USCGA. In the Class of 2017 alone, we only have 15 cadets who are electrical engineers. While it is challenging and often frustrating, it is also the most rewarding experience academically I have had thus far.

 

As I entered into my final year here at the Academy, I realized that I have yet to regret a single moment since I joined the few who may call themselves electrical engineers. I should point out that a major reason I decided on electrical engineering had to do with its prevalence in today’s world, and its relevance to the future of technology and innovation. With the cyber strategies that we are developing, and the vulnerabilities being exploited faster than they can be detected, the field of electrical engineering will be a prosperous one for years to come. That being said, the people are what convinced me to stick with it when I faced hard times. While some teachers are committed to their students’ growth and understanding, there are also teachers that are not. While this sad fact has proven to be true, it miraculously cannot be said about any of the faculty and staff in the Electrical Engineering Department here at the Academy. When I realized that every teacher was willing to do whatever it took to help me succeed, I knew that this department was meant for me. We work with technology and circuits, and I have learned more than I ever could have imagined. The teachers will work with you one-on-one whenever you need the extra help. The people are what make the environment, and I can honestly say there is not a single place I work harder than in my engineering classes for the amazing faculty in the Electrical Engineering Department. They have inspired me to someday be as knowledgeable and passionate about the field as they all have grown to be. I can honestly say that I love what I do, and I haven’t worked a single day since I made the decision to be an electrical engineer. While I’m sure I have already sold you on switching majors, I must also point out that they always have M&M’s and coffee avialable here in the Electrical Engineering Department.

 

More about Keemiya.

 

Running Down a Dream

(Athletics, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo Actually, not really a dream… I never had grand aspirations of running a full marathon until last May. In fact, if you had told 4/c or 3/c me that I would ever run more than three miles at once, let alone 26.2, I would have run far, far, away from you. (Nah, scratch that. I would have power-walked, because I didn’t do that whole “running” thing.) But some switch flipped in 2/c me. My marathoner friends certainly influenced me, but I think the interest stuck when I realized that running actually doesn’t have to be miserable. I go at my own pace, on my own schedule, with my own goals and, believe it or not, running became one of my favorite hobbies. Maybe it’s because I know I’m taking care of myself; maybe it’s because my workouts are the 1 to 2 hours where I truly do get to be left alone; maybe it’s because I have seen a significant and rewarding increase in my fitness over the last couple of years. Regardless, I have, at this point, completed two half-marathons and a full marathon! 4/c and 3/c Abby are calling 1/c Abby insane right now; but, so far, running those miles is one of the most awesome blessings from God in my life.

 

Physical fitness is a crucial part of cadet education (hence physical fitness exams twice a year), but I’ve learned working doesn’t have to be some brutal task you drag yourself through miserably every day. The Academy allows you to explore many different athletic activities to find just the right fit for your interests and abilities. For some, that takes the form of a varsity team for the sport you always played in high school – baseball, soccer, swimming, basketball, rifle, sailing, and so on. Others jump into new clubs to investigate activities like ballroom dancing, equestrian sports, or fencing. For people like me who aren’t really into the competitive nature of varsity or even club athletics, you can snag your mandatory sports credit doing something low-key like intercompany sports, and focus your efforts on those individual hobbies that make you genuinely happy and remove stress. I’ve found my athletic niche in casual, fun runs around the New England area, despite coming in as an out-of-shape swab who avoided that dreaded activity…but thanks to some awesome runner friends and the Academy’s focus on physical fitness development, that’s all changed. I can’t wait for the next race!

 

More about Abby.