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On a Mission to Unwind

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Bain Photo It's the beginning of 2016, Happy New Year! Consequently, that means it’s time for another semester. Winter leave was great and very important. This past fall semester left me drained in my mind and body. By heading home I had the opportunity to refresh and recharge. Spending time with friends, family, loved ones, and even pets was a welcoming feeling having been gone for so long. However, nothing was more comforting than sleeping in long past 6 a.m.


If the mission of leave is to unwind, I stood a tall watch and manned my rack. One could say I was extraordinarily devoted to that duty. Unfortunately, my watch has come to an end and it’s time to return to the Coast Guard Academy.


With the spring semester about to pick up, I'm ready. Sure, being away from home stinks but if I wrote that I didn't miss this place, I would be a liar. For some mysterious reason that I'll attribute to habit, I started to miss the daily routine. Being here and being productive gives one a sense of purpose, which is ultimately what every human inevitably searches for in their lifetime.


I'm glad it’s still not snowing. I'm glad to be back with my friends. I'm ready for the challenges ahead. It's good to be home.


More about Cody.


Administrative Action

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Sharp Photo Well, I have almost officially made it to my first Thanksgiving break at USCGA, which means that I have almost officially made it through my first semester of “college.” Now, clearly, this is not your average college experience. Over the past few weeks, I have seen many of my shipmates get honor-boarded and masted, have attended a formal dinner training that our instructor said was the worst she had ever seen, and have experienced a “bussing and respect remedial.”


No, this place is not your average college. We take honor, respect, and devotion to duty very seriously. And, right when you start slipping through the cracks and lose sight of these three pillars, you had better believe that there is someone there to remind you–albeit through administrative action, or through a light slap on the wrist and some notecards. As fourth class, we are the followers. A part of being on this lovely level of the chain of command is that, sometimes, we get to write these notecards. On such notecards, we get the privilege to write, in pen, mind you (so you cannot re-use the note cards), “1/c (name of your Company Commander), 4/c (Your last name) respectfully requests to inform you that (insert anything you might need to inform people of–your whereabouts, something you did wrong, indoc test corrections, etc.).”


On another note, honor boards are where a cadet who has acted in a manner that rubbed someone the wrong way (cadets are honor-boarded when they are suspected of cheating, fraternization, or simply breaking the regulations). This process consists of the cadet walking in and sitting at the position of attention with an upperclassmen advisor of their choice. The upperclassmen who comprise the honor board and will ask the cadet questions about the situation. The board then makes a recommendation to Commander Barker, who oversees the mast. Most honor boards lead to masts. The mast is much more formal because it is where Commander Barker decides how hefty the punishment will be for the cadet in question. 


Cadets are required to attend certain dinner and etiquette trainings so that we learn the importance of respect and how to act toward officers and how to act when we become officers. Due to the nature of such trainings, we cadets get restless and sometimes feel the need to occupy our time with other things to distract us from the training. Unfortunately, my classmates and I made a very negative impression on our instructor, adding to the respect issues and misconduct coming from the Class of 2019. We fourth class cadets who attended this specific dinner training were addressed about our misconduct and now have to write a memo and apology notes to the trainer and the staff. This is an understandable punishment that we are all dealing with and will get through together.


On another note, this morning, our first class that is in charge of fourth class behavior and misconduct, and our company guidons, second class cadets who are in charge of the fourth class of their company, met with us during our morning training period. Although the training took time out of our mornings, everything that they had to say was correct. This always happens to the fourth class. Thanksgiving rolls around and we start getting bored with doing our jobs. When we square corners, it looks more like circling the corners. When we speak to upperclassmen, we drop our “sirs and ma’ams.” When we are marching in section to class (also known as “busing”), we speak to each other, which is not allowed. I think that we have forgotten our place at the bottom of the food chain, so to speak. We have forgotten what we learned over Swab Summer about teamwork and that we need each other to get through this. We have forgotten that we still have another semester of being fourth class. We have forgotten that we can never get too comfortable. About anything. Ever.


The main thing that I have learned is that life at the Academy is like one giant, slightly bruised apple. You can look at it and be like, “ew. This apple is gross. Why would anyone want that?” Or, you can journey through the process of eating the apple. One bite at a time. When you decide to deal with it and eat the apple, you find some bruises. That bitter, sour taste enters your mouth and you squinch your face up. In fact, when you are least expecting to find a bruise, you find one. That’s the best part. You never know when it’s coming. It just does. And there is nothing you can do about it. You just have to embrace it. Think about all of the people before you that had a bruised apple. You aren’t special. Embrace that bruised apple. Because, you know what? What it comes down to is the fact that somewhere out there, there is someone who would die for that apple.


Now, don’t get me wrong. USCGA has made me who I am today and I am forever grateful. I have gotten to travel an insane amount. I have been to New York City and Newport, Rhode Island on Eagle over Swab Summer, Canada with the dance team and Wind Jammers, Boston for a dance team competition, numerous church camps, Colgate College for a Mock Trial competition, and, of course, initially to lovely New London, Connecticut. To make everything that much better, the people here are amazing. We have all been through some sort of trial that has brought us together and formed a level of respect for one another. We have done something and are doing something that nobody else in the whole wide world gets to do. It sounds super cheesy, but I always feel blessed here. On my hardest day, when I am getting called out, have a bad test grade, or am fighting with my best friend, none of it matters. Because I am here. I am doing what I truly believe I was meant to do. I am glad to be here. And I can’t wait to see what lies for us next.


More about Kirsten.


Returning to My Roots

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Corbett Photo A common perception of military training is that everyone should fit into a mold. By the time we graduate, we should become the image of military excellence. This was a fear that I had before coming to the Academy, that I would be stripped of my core identity. I can tell you this is just a silly rumor in most cases. When I meet someone new, one of my first questions is always “what’s your story?” To which I typically get a look of confusion followed by “I don’t have a story.” Everyone has a story and it is important to realize what it is and hold on to it. Your story is what makes you unique; it is what makes you the person you are. A piece of my story that I always share is my love for art. Before becoming an Electrical Engineering major, I had taken zero, count ‘em zero, engineering courses. I did, however, max out the ceramics department’s program and the graphic design program, and did an independent study in ceramics with a focus on throwing on the wheel. So, why talk about this? Because it is important to know your story and return to it occasionally!


I lugged my potter’s wheel up to the Academy last semester hoping that I would have time to experience something other than the math and military-filled days. I, unfortunately, did not get the chance to reach back to that previous flame last semester and thus brought my wheel back home for winter break. While home, however, I bought myself 25 pounds of clay, fired up the wheel and day after day went back to what I did before the Academy. I sat for a lunch break with my mother most days in a disarray of clay-covered clothes and with dry hands. Among this chaos of an outfit was a smile though. I was at peace working with the medium.


The Academy can often fill our lives up and make it feel like we have nowhere to go other than the crevices inside the mold. It is important to realize that there is no mold except the one you make for yourself. Expand your expectations to be what you want and pursue what you want. I can sit here happily studying electrical engineering, but it does not mean I have to give up other things in my life that made me happy. Besides, at the end of the day, let’s face it; an engineer is an artist too, just with a different medium.


More about Shane.


Rollin’ on the River!

(Athletics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Fenster Photo Here on the banks of the Thames, the school year is just flying along! October has come and gone, Thanksgiving is less than a month away, Christmas is right around the corner—the academic year is well underway. It has been an extremely busy and exciting time here in New London—not only for me but also for the Academy.


This past week, we had members from eight Arctic nations come to discuss future policy in the region. The heads of the Coast Guard (or Coast Guard equivalent) from Iceland, Norway, Finland, Canada, Russia, Sweden, Denmark and the United States all came to the Academy, providing us cadets with some invaluable experiences. We got to hear a talk from Jeh C. Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security, and we had the opportunity to drill for the distinguished guests. It was an exhilarating time and surely an experience that I will never forget.


It has also been an exciting month for me as well. We had our first swim meet against Springfield and Rhode Island after more than a month of hard work in the pool, which ended with a Coast Guard victory! We had a great meet—lots of first place finishes, personal bests, and great teamwork. In addition to swimming, I also had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Columbia Model United Nations Conference in New York, which was a tremendous experience. I spent the weekend in New York City with friends and colleagues, and even made some new friends from other schools as well.


There’s so much more on the horizon, too. Winter is approaching, and with it comes uniform changes, snow, and the holiday season. So while my first half semester was a whirlwind (albeit an enjoyable one), there is so much to look forward to at the Academy. As always, if you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact me at


Semper Paratus and Go Bears,


More about Colin.


Cooperation Between Cadets

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
SukchaPhoto Greetings! I am 4/c Saranjoe Sukcha from Class of 2019. I am currently in Bravo Company. As an international cadet from Malaysia, there are several reasons why I decided to join the Cadet Blog Club. I believe cooperation between cadets from different countries and United States cadets is important. They help build a positive military relationship between various countries and the U.S. In order to strengthen our ties, we share knowledge, skills and learn from each other. As an international cadet, I am happy to share my experiences and my observations throughout my journey at the United States Coast Guard Academy. We have heard comments from around the world stating that U.S. service academies have created professional leaders in all military branches. Being here for only a few months now, makes me agree that it is completely true. As an ex-officer cadet in the Royal Malaysian Navy at the National Defense University of Malaysia, I realized that there are big differences in the training of cadets.


Furthermore, what I will bring to this unique program is the thoughts of a foreign cadet about the great experiences in this academy. I am happy to be at this academy and I am looking forward to majoring in Marine and Environmental Sciences. I will also share stories about my involvement in the Cadet Glee Club, Pistol Team, International Council, and Asian Pacific American Council (APAC). I am truly glad to be here and look forward to experiencing more wonderful moments and activities at the Academy.


More about Saranjoe.