Hey hey hey! My name is Christen (I usually go by Chris) and am 1/c (Senior) cadet at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Even though my home is the Academy most of the year, I am from Mountain View, California (the home of Google), born in Stanford, California and proud member of the Yay Area! I grew up in a typical suburban neighborhood, and went to high school at St. Francis High School (a catholic school originally run by Holy Cross brothers). To be honest my parents and I were a little shocked when I got into the Academy, as it seemed to be a reach for me when I was applying. I would say I was a pretty good student in high school, but nothing outstanding. In fact I had to get a medical waiver from the Academy because I fractured by back playing football in high school , and was originally disqualified by the DoD! Lets see…the basics about me…Have played most every sport (football, baseball, water polo, but have settle in as a boxer at the Academy), love superheroes, video games, and if it didn’t make me obese I would eat pizza every day for every meal!
So the reason I joined the cadet blog community this year is because I think I can offer the reader good insight from a cadet who has really gone through an uphill battle at the Academy. I think by reading my blogs you will get an honest point of view, and hopefully be somewhat interested while reading them. I think I will start off in my about section with a little background of my time at the Academy. I would like people to know where I am coming from, and understand a little about my cadet experience before they start to read my blogs.
Okay, so my story starts at Swab Summer when I first reported in. I will admit I was shell shocked by the whole boot camp experience, and lost a little bit of who I was after I first started the school year. Reminder to those who report in on R-Day, don’t forget where you came from, and that you are a person! My first year (4/c year) at the Academy was a struggle to be put mildly. I was put on fitness probation, received numerous failing grades, and was restricted for an altercation with a classmate...not a good start. I can’t say my 3/c year was much better as I tore my shoulder, continued to struggle in school, and lacked the military deportment a cadet should have. Lucky for me however, one day I was beaten up.
Yes that’s right, beaten up in the heavyweight championships in the first annual regimental open for the Coast Guard Academy Boxing Team. I actually fought my cadre (someone who yells at and trains you over your Swab Summer), and was just outmatched in weight, strength, and endurance. I tried to make excuses in my mind as to why I lost (bad game plan, he was older, I was injured), but the truth was simple. I didn’t work hard enough. No, it wasn’t just the couple months of training before the fight when I hadn’t worked hard enough, it started the beginning of 4/c year. I left Swab Summer with the mentality that I had survived, and that’s all I had to do for the next four years at the Academy. After losing that boxing match, I think something inside of me clicked. The intrinsic motivation that we all have deep inside of us was lit, and ever since then I have just been going up and up.
I can’t say the path has been easy, and I have had numerous setbacks. But today I type before you as the Echo Company Commander (a cadet in charge of a company, or 120 cadets), a member of the Board of Trustee’s list (a cadet who is above the standard in the physical fitness , military performance, and academics), and active in numerous clubs throughout the Academy. I will tell you right now, I am not that talented of a person. I credit my success as a cadet to hard work, and from whatever perspective your reading this from, I think some of the best advice we can remember comes from NBA star Kevin Durant (although probably not originally) “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard”. I try and tell that to myself every day, but I know I have a lot of work to still do. I admit I still have a long way to go, and know that I have slip ups every day (I definitely could have gotten this blog done sooner). But if I can offer advice to anyone applying to the Academy, any cadet, or anyone reading this it is that every time you fall asleep you can wake up the next day a better person, it’s up to you. Anyway, if you have any sort of questions please email me at Christen.C.Shih@uscg.mil. Thanks for reading!