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Transition from 4/c to 3/c

(Academics, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Condon Photo Hey guys! Sorry it’s been so long since I posted, but things have been really hectic in my life over the past year. I greatly underestimated how busy I would be 4/c year. I participated in three varsity sports last year, meaning that I never had an off season. In addition to sports, academics were also very difficult for me. First semester went by pretty easily, but second semester came and I was constantly busy. Beginning second semester, studying until 2 a.m. became common. I also began to struggle more than before. Chemistry II and Calculus II pushed me farther than I ever have been academically. I would spend hour upon hour studying for Chemistry only to get a 55 percent on a test. It was extremely frustrating to constantly fail. About halfway through the semester, after spring break, I changed my study habits and began to work more with my classmates. I remember in high school, I would avoid studying with other people over fear of distraction. However, group studying actually saved me toward the end of 4/c year. Anyway, I finished 4/c year and managed to get at least a C- in Chemistry and Calculus, thankfully avoiding academic probation.


Once 4/c year came to an end, my mind left academics and began thinking of qualification boards and boat crew sign-offs. I was first phase Eagle and I actually had a pretty good time. Eagle is a lot of work, but the ship will take you to some really cool places! Half my class and I went to Key West, Nassau, Norfolk, and Staten Island. After Eagle, I reported to Station Emerald Isle in North Carolina for the second half of my summer. At the station, the other cadets and I stood communications watch, which is basically monitoring the radios and answering the phones, I helped around the station, went underway on the small boats, and worked on boat crew sign-offs. After six weeks at the station, it was finally time for summer leave. Summer leave was fun, but after going home I started to notice more of a detachment from my high school friends than before. A lot of cadets talk about this happening, but I never believed it until this summer. Because of this, I mostly just spent time with my girlfriend and family.


I’ve been back as a 3/c now for almost a month, and already it’s very different. I was talking to a second class earlier this year and he told me the biggest difference between a 4/c and 3/c is as a 4/c you never realize just how nice everyone is here. When you’re a 4/c, everyone seems to always watch you, correct you, mentor you, and ensure that you are doing everything right. However, as a 3/c, people treat you differently. There’s still mentorship and people may step in to correct you but you are not as objectified and are treated more like an adult and friend.


If you have any questions, feel free to email me.


More about Ryan.


Fast Times on Regimental Staff

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Engelhardt Photo Hello and greetings! I hope this blog finds you well as the summer months start dwindling to a close and preparations begin for autumn. As I write this, I am back at the Coast Guard Academy preparing for my last fall semester as a member of the Corps of Cadets. Since I drove back up to the Academy a little over a week-and-a-half ago, I have participated in a whirlwind of activity.


I was selected in the spring to be a member of the fall Regimental Staff, the group of cadets that lead the corps in military activities during a given academic semester. As required by my position, I reported back to the Academy early to begin preparations for my term as Regimental Communications Officer. I am chiefly responsible for conveying any information that needs to be passed on to the corps as an entire body in a professional and timely manner. Along with the other members of the Regimental Staff, I helped establish a list of goals that we hope to achieve during the semester, and laid down the framework of how we will achieve them. Additionally, we took part in DISC training to understand more about our own personality and that of other members of the Regimental Staff.


When the corps reported back, the real work began. Beside the normal duties of attending meetings and taking the physical fitness exam, I was also responsible for formatting a Regimental Communications Plan and tasked with approving the evening announcements that were sent out to the corps. Couple that with the hot weather and the lack of air-conditioning in Chase Hall, and it’s not hard to see how the last week felt never-ending.


Despite the extra work and leadership challenges my position on the Regimental Staff will give me, I look forward to being a member of this excellent team. I relish the chance to develop further as a leader in preparation of being a Coast Guard ensign, and cannot wait to see what my future holds, both at the CGA and in the fleet.


If you have any questions about the Coast Guard Academy, or my experiences, I invite you to email me at I plan on blogging again very soon! Until next time, Semper Paratus and Go Bears!


More about James.


July: The Eagle Experience

(Just for Fun, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Coburn Photo As I am writing this, I am one week into my summer leave and two weeks away from my 3/c year at the Academy. To say that the past 11 weeks out in the fleet were exciting would be an understatement. Leaving South Padre, I was excited to see my friends from school, but also sad to be leaving all the awesome people that I met while at my station. The Coast Guard is truly an amazing community and I learned that firsthand while in Texas. After a day of travelling to the Academy, a night of no sleep and then a bus ride leaving the Academy at 4 a.m., we arrived in Staten Island, New York. There we were able to catch glimpses of the other half of our class leaving as we shuffled onto Eagle in our trops with sea bags over our shoulders. We were given the lowdown and attended safety briefs before they granted us liberty, which meant we were allowed to go out and explore New York City. After leaving New York, we sailed for a little over a week down to Philadelphia for a tall ships festival. During that week, we encountered a storm that tore our main course sail. It was around 6 a.m. and the emergency sail stations alarm went off. This created a whole lot of chaos in a room of 15 sleeping girls. We all got dressed as fast as we could and reported up to our masts. It was pouring rain and thundering and lightning. Luckily, we were able to take down the sail and the situation didn’t end too badly. At the time it was not a very fun experience, but it gave us some good sea stories to tell while giving tours in port.


It was really cool coming into Philadelphia because we got to see the other tall ships and there were a lot of people watching us pull in. While on liberty we were able to tour our sister ship the Sagres and many others in the area. After Philly, we had four days underway before we reached Bermuda. On the 4th of July we arrived at the beautiful island of Bermuda. The water was a gorgeous clear blue and the weather was perfect. We had three days on the island and they were filled with (many) trips to the beach, shopping in the small towns, and tasting the different cuisines. I had one day of duty when I gave tours and it was really interesting because the question that I was asked a lot was what it was like to be a woman in the military. Many of the people that came on board were from different countries and the idea of women in the military was very unusual to them. After Bermuda, we sailed 11 days to Maine and finished up getting our qualifications as well as passing the Damage Control Test. We completed our journey in Boston and while I was going to miss seeing my friends every day, I was very excited to be heading home. Eagle was a lot of hard work and the sleeping situations weren’t ideal but it was a great bonding and learning experience for the Class of 2018.


More about Mimi.


How We Wound Up Back Here

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Chang Photo We ended up pulling into port two days early, which meant two extra days of exploring Seattle… not a bad deal. In a city full of coffee shops and galleries, I spent those days drinking espresso and observing art, seemingly being cultured while in reality I was buzzed from the caffeine and Washington atmosphere. Then, I extended my stay in Seattle to hang out with two of my best friends, where we climbed Washington’s Mount Rainier, went to Portland and splurged on movies. I didn’t want to leave the West Coast but my home is New York. I spent two weeks with my family, exploring museums and parks and getting my Chinese food fix. My cousins drove me to the Academy on the 15th and that’s how we wound up back here.


The main difference this year is that I’m in a new company. Personally, it’s a little unnerving because I’m pretty awkward but everyone’s really friendly and I have a good division. In a way, I can relate to the new fourth class more because we’re both in the situation where we’re surrounded by new people and a bigger role than what we had before. It’s not unlike the first few days I was on USCGC Mellon; it just takes time to get used to your surroundings. Other than that, things are going great and we have the physical fitness exam (PFE) this afternoon. Can’t wait!


More about Olivia.


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!




More about Melissa.