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For What it’s Worth: Advice to the Class of 2020

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Fenster Photo So in about a month, you’ll be reporting in for the beginning of your 200-week Academy experience. I’ll be the first to tell you that I wasn’t the best swab to come through this place—in fact, far from it. However, I can tell you now (from the other side) that it will definitely be worth it. However, those weeks will be some of the most difficult you have ever endured. So I’ve got some advice for you:

 

1. Remember that it’s all temporary. There will be pain, and you’ll be stressed, and you’ll be uncomfortable. And when it’s happening, you’ll doubt yourself, and you’ll doubt your shipmates, and you’ll doubt your cadre. But when that happens, it’s important to keep in mind that you are here for a reason, your shipmates are too and will always have your back, and that your cadre have been trained and are training you to become members of the Corps of Cadets. Besides, they’re secretly rooting for you to succeed, and everyone else is as well.

 

2. Remember that this is only a small, small part of your Academy experience. For a part of my Swab Summer, I really wanted to quit. I’m not ashamed by the fact because I know I wasn’t the only one who felt that way—I’m pretty sure that nearly everyone will feel that way at some point or another. But the sagest piece of advice that I ever got came from an old friend, who told me that the only time you’ll ever regret something is when you don’t see something to completion. And I can assure you that with Swab Summer that is absolutely applicable. It is seven short weeks, and it will be over before you know it.

 

3. Stay true to yourself. Swab Summer is designed to transition you from a civilian to a cadet in the United States Coast Guard, and your cadre will make sure that happens. But you will not be successful if you don’t maintain your individuality. While you will become part of a team with your shipmates who going through the summer with you, remember that it’s ok to be yourself every once in a while. When you can, laugh a little bit. Recognize the positive things that happen every once in a while. And above all, remember that you’re still you.

 

Enjoy the last month you have before your report in. It’s going to be a difficult summer, but a rewarding one. As always, if you have any questions about how you can prepare for the summer or how you can approach the summer, feel free to contact me at Colin.D.Fenster@uscga.edu.

 

Semper P and Go Bears,
Colin

 

More about Colin.

 

The Approaching Curve

(Academics, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Chang Photo I’m driving a car and flooring it as the little red ticker twitches on the far right of the speedometer. I see empty highway in front of me until the road takes a sharp twist to the left and the silver railings on the side glare their warning. My manic grin is reflected in the side mirror and…

 

No, I didn’t really do that. In fact, being from New York City, I don’t even have a driver’s license. But that’s what the last few days of this semester feels like. There is one day of class left and a week of finals until 100th week, where Cape May Company Commanders will unleash their wrath upon us. Soon after, as cadre, we’ll unveil our own leadership techniques upon the incoming swabs. Everything in between that, however, is a summer packed with everything from sailing to shooting ranges. And, while there is always something to look forward to at the Academy, it’s just as important to have a plan leading up to those upcoming events. Study plans are especially important. For example, here’s my finals week study plan:

  • Silently stare out the window for a few minutes until mustering up the energy to open textbooks
  • Consider checking Facebook and shake off the thought, knowing that it’s way more important to focus on studying
  • 10-minute full-body stretch to prepare for hours at desk
  • Actually read a few paragraphs and chuckle ominously, knowing that it’s going to be a long night
  • Repeat cycle until you’ve compressed your textbook into a ten-page outline
  • Look over it a few times
  • Feel proud and have a snack, you’ve earned it
  • Go to bed
  • Wake up the next morning (or in the next few hours) for reveille and repeat the process

        *Note: This study plan does not reflect the CGA academic standards. I am just procrastinating.

 

Feel free to use it if you wish. No guarantees that you’ll have a 4.0 GPA, but you’ll be fine for finals! Good luck to all taking finals, SATs, and those preparing for the upcoming summer!

 

More about Olivia.

 

It Was All Worth It!

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Roesch Photo I can’t believe, as I’m sitting here in Chase Hall, that these next few nights will be the last I spend here as a cadet. Time seemed to fly by so incredibly fast as a 1/c. I got back from my summer assignment (Eagle and Air Station New Orleans) and rolled right into a whirlwind of a semester. As one of the primary planners of our annual Parents’ Weekend, managing schoolwork, and completing the many steps of my flight school application, fall semester went by so fast with all of the tasks on my to-do list. Spring semester was no different and started off equally fast-paced; however, most of those items were glaring reminders that “real life” was right around the corner and ENS Roesch was quickly becoming a soon-to-be reality. From submitting my dream sheet of billet requests, completing my flight school interview, and getting settled into my last semester of undergraduate courses, I played the waiting game until Billet Night to figure out where I would be going for my first tour.

 

Billet Night was, by far, the best night of my four years at the Academy. Beforehand, everyone had the same amount of nervousness jumping around inside of them, anxiously waiting to hear where they would be assigned next. The excitement inside Leamy Hall that night was tangible and all of 2016 was ready to hear our futures. Recalling the moment I was called to the stage to receive my billet, all I can remember is the feeling of my heart pounding inside my chest. Standing on the stage waiting to open my folder was undoubtedly the longest seconds I’ve ever experienced! When I opened my folder, I couldn’t breathe and the tears began to roll down my face: I was going to flight school! That night is something I will never forget – five years of intense, hard work all became extremely worth it within a matter of seconds! What’s even better is that all of my close friends received billets that they were extremely excited about. Being able to share those same emotions with my best friends made the night even sweeter.

 

Following Billet Night, everything seemed to just start happening at an unusually fast pace. Emails with paperwork, forms, trainings, and more to be completed began making their way into my in box, but it was all thrilling because it all meant one thing: I was graduating and making my way down to Pensacola, Florida to become a Coast Guard aviator! I can definitely fill out a bunch of paperwork for that! I began looking for an apartment and things to fill it with (my OWN place!!), swim teams in the area that I can join, parks I can run in with my dog…basically beginning my new life. It’s all so crazy, but so exciting.

 

Now, as I wait for my family to make their way to New London for Commencement Week, all I can do is just sit back and smile. Though this place had its countless unique challenges, I’m walking away with so many experiences that have taught me about life, the world, our society, and myself. Most importantly, I’m walking away with some of the best friends I will ever have. I am so glad, and somewhat surprised, that I made it through and that all those dreams I had in high school are becoming a reality! My advice to anyone starting their journey: never give up, stay focused on your goals, be resilient, and ignore the naysayers – it will all be very worth it one day!

 

More about Allie.

 

Swab Hosley’s Swab Summer Survival Guide

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Hosley Photo *Let me just preface this by saying that I was by no means a perfect swab; however, I did sail through the summer with no major problems or punishments, earned the respect of my toughest cadre and mentor, and reached my ultimate goal (so in my mind, that’s a win).

 

Step 1: Physical Preparation

Honestly, there is no way to truly prepare for Swab Summer. Yes, being hydrated and physically fit coming in may help you out a little bit in the long run, but not too much. The best way to prepare is to relax and spend time with friends and family because your life is about to change drastically (for the better of course), and why stress out doing push-ups the week before R-Day? You’ve got all summer to do those silly, and don’t worry you will!

 

Step 2: Mental Preparation

The most important way to prepare for Swab Summer is mentally. Get tough and get psyched. So what if it’s going to be rough, they will be some of the worst times and some of the best. Tell yourself it’s going to be hard because it is, but also you’ll get through it; if I can, you can! Lastly, mentally prepare yourself for the yelling, there is going to be a lot of yelling, so expect that. It’s okay to be scared, fear is excellent motivation but always remember, never let the fear of striking out prevent you from playing the game.

 

Step 3: Let the Games Begin 

  • Always remember, Swab Summer is a game and all you have to do is play by the rules.
  • Listen to everything your cadre tell you and be a sponge, absorb all the customs and rules and core values because one day you’ll live by them.
  • Read your Running Light and don’t just pretend to study, but do. The more indoctrination information you know the better!
  • Always try your best, and never, never, never give up (you’ll be amazed by what you can accomplish).
  • Set goals for yourself. I told myself that one day I would be able to climb up the rope on the obstacle course all the way to the top and you know what? On the very last day of Swab Summer I did, and I have never been more proud of myself.
  • Fly under the radar. Whatever you do, keep a low profile; that is single handedly the best way to survive the summer. If you do what you’re told and always try your hardest, you will be successful.
  • Take care of your shipmates because you won’t succeed without them and I promise you they’ll become your best friends.
  • Never take shortcuts; always remember that the truth rises above all else. It is better to be slow and to do something the right way then to take a shortcut, because your cadre will know.
  • Have fun and be creative with it. Don’t get bogged down by the small stuff and remember that at the end of the day, you’re one step closer to reaching your end goal.

 

Step 4…

Okay so maybe there is no step 4, but I can’t give you guys all my secrets; that would take the fun out of it. Don’t be nervous, it flies by faster than you’d think. Deep breaths, it’s not that bad – you will survive I promise, and you’ll be stronger for it. Just remember it’s all a game, you just have to play by the rules. Good luck! Go Swabs, Go 2020, Go 2018, and Go Bears!!!

 

More about Cece.

Class of 2020: Focus on the Future

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo I changed my phone background recently. It’s now some lovely tropical flowers gracing my screen. Really, the last one I had was fine… but with finals coming up and a heavy influx of division work within Chase Hall, I needed a consistent reminder that in about one week, I am heading to Florida for my first assignment at a Coast Guard air station! Trust me, I’m ready for it. Five weeks of immersion in Coast Guard aviation, hanging out at the beach, great food, and running past palm trees will be rough, but I think the challenges of this school have prepared me well.

 

I truly was pretty overwhelmed this last week, what with giving two presentations for the Science Department and lots of last-minute work for my division, but it truly did help to have something to look forward to. The annoyance and frustration is temporary; the experience is forever! I hope the incoming swabs will remember that as they go through the summer. The initial shock is pretty rough, and the days are very long…but believe it or not, the weeks are short. You just have to remember that there are better days ahead and a million adventures awaiting you. Before I reported in, I did some math. Did you ever realize that seven weeks, out of 200 for our training program, is only about 3.5% of your Academy career? That means 95.5% is made up of meeting new people, travelling, getting into a great major, assuming some leadership positions, flying, sailing, going on internships, joining clubs, attending religious activities… not the rigorous, loud days of the summer. Focus on the future, on the great things in store for you if you endure Swab Summer, and you’ll be fine. Even if you have some doubts at the beginning, 2020… I think you’ll grow to like those odds.

 

More about Abby.