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This Week Changed Everything for Me

(Mid-Week) Permanent link
Morin Samples

As a military child I have seen countless military movies about basic training and the life of someone who serves our country. I always thought it was just an easy couple of pushups or just some running and chanting. As a shipmate in the Bravo company we did endure the stereotypical basic training, however, it was not as easy as it seemed. In the past years I have struggled with confidence. In school I would never really say an answer because I was too afraid to share my answer. This week changed everything for me.

I have learned so much about myself and the Academy. This week my shipmates and I explored the different majors. My roommates and I thought that civil engineering and naval architecture were the best majors offered.

I have visited the Coast Guard Academy countless times but nothing matched the experience that I have had so far. This week so far has been tough but also rewarding. We have been so busy, moving from one building to another. I just learned my roommates first names!

I love my group or my platoon. We are so close even though we don’t know much about each other. If one of us is falling behind, we would go back and run with them.

My cadre are intense. It’s difficult to understand with all the yelling that they are good people. I think I saw one of them smile this week. I don’t think I was supposed to see that.

I really enjoyed the PFE, which is the physical fitness exam. Since I run cross country, I liked that everyone was cheering for each other during the 1.5 mile-run. It made me feel a little closer to home.

This week has been great so far. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the week looks like!!!

MORE ABOUT MORIN

I Was Expecting Hard, But This is Another Level

(Mid-Week) Permanent link
Emily LeBrun

I am no longer “I.” Since the beginning of the week I have been known as “AIMster LeBrun” and must refer to myself as such. This past week has taught AIMster LeBrun so much about herself and others. AIMster LeBrun learned about respect and teamwork and worked specifically on those skills.

The Academy itself is beautiful. I always saw pictures and videos that show the Academy, but they never did it justice. The Academy is so much more than just college dorms and lunchrooms. This campus is rich in history and tradition. Everything at this place has a purpose and a meaning behind it, and that is very special to AIMster LeBrun.

AIMster LeBrun…I was told that this Academy program was the most intense and most like Swab Summer. I wouldn’t doubt that for a second. This is hard. I was expecting hard, but this is another level.

This week started on Sunday and we were thrown right into it. The first few days were very rough, especially for me, but I stayed and persisted throughout the week. I am so happy I continued to push through and make it to the end. Tomorrow is graduation and I get to see my parents and retrieve my phone. And if anyone is wondering, you do not miss your phone. You are way too busy to even think about your phone during this week of intense training.

This week I met Swabs and discussed their experiences with them. I learned so much in a span of five days. I picked up on marching cadences and learned how to and when to square. I became even better at keeping a straight face and I believe I will be making a much more informed decisions about my college career after this week.

MORE ABOUT EMILY

The Best Thing I Could Have Done to Change My Life

(Reflections) Permanent link
Mackenzie Boose

The first step out of the Academy after a week of experiencing so many new things was filled with relief and excitement. Relief that I was able to do my best over the week and challenge myself physically and mentally. Excitement because for the first time in my life I was 100% sure of something; and that is the United States Coast Guard Academy is my dream and I need to be there. The first thing I did when I got home was contact my Master Chief and let him know that this is an opportunity I am very passionate about.

Over the course of just six days I have grown tremendously. Even on the second day I could see the change in my demeanor and my thinking. This week broke me down and put me into a military mindset; then lifted me up and gave me confidence I never knew I had. Confidence in my skills and competence. It is crazy to think that I can come out of a six day summer camp with a deeper understanding of life at the Academy and the hard work it takes to be one's best through various challenges. Additionally, I have developed a great sense of teamwork and realized challenges are easier when working as a team than when trying to do it all by oneself. For example, when rushing to organize and clean our rooms for inspection we all went around to each other's rooms and helped each other out so we could finish as a team.

I would 100% recommend this experience to high school students. Even if one doesn't plan to ever join the military or go to the Coast Guard Academy, one would benefit from this experience tremendously and improve as a person. By being a better person, you look at certain inconveniences in life differently. For example, when I got home, I had work the next day; I had never been so excited to wake up early and sit on a lifeguard stand for 8 hours. As I was sitting all day, I was so grateful to be able to do my job and I was very appreciative of my work environment. The little things like that are what make me realize that AIM was the best thing I could have done to change my life; and I know my life will be great because AIM made my heart yearn to be a cadet at the USCGA. Hopefully, I can see the beautiful campus again but as a SWAB.

MORE ABOUT MACKENZIE

One of the Best Experiences of My Life

(Reflections) Permanent link
Mary Coady

So, I have survived the AIM program. It was the experience of a lifetime! I loved every minute of it, but now it is over. My parents and four younger brothers picked me up from graduation with smiling faces, and we drove up to Maine for a family event.

However happy I was to be reunited with my family, I found it hard to relax without my bravo family. When we arrived at our location we sat down to a family dinner, but I found it too hard to relax and eat without my shipmates; out of my entire experience that was the first and only time I cried. I called my former roomie and talked with her for a few minutes, then I went back and sat down with my family. In these days after graduation, many of my shipmates have said that they have had similar experiences, but we have all slowly gone back to normal life, but now with 25 new friends to talk with.

Since coming home many people have asked me about my AIM experience, and every time, I preface my description by saying that “It was one of the best experiences of my life!” Because it was. I talk about the stress of meal time, the sounding off, an extremely competitive kickball game, a helicopter landing, the multiple smoke sessions, the running, the triumph over Alpha in a very intense planking competition, and the subsequent funeral for Alpha’s pride. I tell of the many struggles, triumphs, and adventures that made me a part of something bigger than myself, part of a team. I hope to get the opportunity to experience the same things next year at the Academy.

In case it is not obvious through my writing, I had an amazing experience! I would definitely recommend going to AIM, but that said, I will not say it is an experience for everyone. It pushes your boundaries, but it has made me realize that I can challenge myself more, it has made me more confident in my abilities. So I definitely recommend AIM as a way to challenge yourself and test yourself to the limit, and to also make lifelong friends. If that sounds appealing to you then please try it! I had an amazing experience and I hope anyone reading this in the future who goes to AIM, shares that same experience.

MORE ABOUT MARY

Contemplating Whether to Go to AIM?

(Reflections) Permanent link
Isabelita Sekulovic

It hasn’t even been 48 hours and I already miss the Coast Guard Academy. While the farewell was tough I was ready to get home and do my laundry. I remember when doing laundry my uncle asked how my trip was and the first thing I did was smile. My response, “It was the hardest thing I’ve done in my life.” One thing my cadre wrote in my thoughts of the day was that I will find the program very rewarding if I put my best foot forward and he was 100% right.

After my laundry was done I grabbed my dog, book, towel, sunscreen, and headed to the beach. I ended up meeting with friends and shared my experience; I will never forget the look on their faces. They explained how that’s crazy and they’d never do it. In all honesty it made me sad, not because of their responses, but because I realized I wasn’t surrounded with like-minded people anymore. The laughs and hardships I shared with my fellow shipmates will keep me motivated to become the best candidate I can be for the Academy.

Additionally, going to AIM I thought I had it all figured out, well, that was wrong. I thought I went into AIM open minded, but I didn’t. It wasn’t until day 3 that I completely did so, and once I did my college plans did a 180. I discovered that I want to call the Coast Guard Academy home. AIMster Sekulovic wants to be a part of something greater than herself.

Furthermore, for any student reading this and contemplating whether to go to AIM… GO! It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Not one AIMster that I met claimed they were unsatisfied with the program, every student walked away with an incredible experience. If someone has the chance to go to AIM they most definitely should.

MORE ABOUT ISABILITA

I Need To Experience It

(Why AIM) Permanent link
Morin Samples

I have wanted to come to the Coast Guard Academy since the seventh grade. To give a little background, I was at an interest meeting with my brother for all the military academies. At the time he wanted to go to the Air Force Academy. I was losing interest until a woman walked onto the stage and started to talk about her career. She was a Coast Guardswoman saving turtles on the coast of North Carolina. Ever since then I have devoted myself to attending the Academy. However, I was only in seventh grade and college seemed so far away. In the past four years I have been going on USCGA’s website looking at the majors, the programs offered, and a better reason to attend the Academy other than saving turtles. This year I saw the AIM summer program. I was instantly excited and knew that I had to apply. I needed something to confirm that the Academy life was for me. I can read all about the Coast Guard Academy and listen to people who attended the school, but I need to experience it.

Currently, at my house, it is just me and my mom. My dad is in Florida due to the Army and my brother is at USCGA. So, as I was applying to AIM no one really understood what I was doing. My brother didn’t go to AIM and surprisingly knew nothing about it. I mentioned AIM to my parents during the application process but that was all they knew. It wasn't until I was visiting my brother in New London when my family finally knew what I was applying for. I was waiting for the acceptance letter and my parents did not understand why I was so nervous that day. Once I received the letter, the questions came. Now my parents are over the moon about AIM. My brother can't wait for me to experience it. My dad is really excited for me. He is happy for me because I worked hard on the application and I earned acceptance to AIM.

In the days leading up to my departure to New London, I am getting more nervous. I have been working all summer on my fitness and now I start to think, “What if I haven’t done enough.” I often reassure myself that I have. I don’t have any other concerns than that. On the other hand, I am really looking forward to making new friends. I can’t wait to meet people who have the same interests as me! It’s difficult to try to find someone in Pinehurst, North Carolina who wants to go to the Coast Guard Academy. I am also really looking forward to the Academy life. I really cannot wait to get to AIM!!

MORE ABOUT MORIN

The Nerves are Turning into Excitement

(Why AIM) Permanent link
Emily LeBrun

Hello everyone! Emily here! Next week I go to the Academy for the third week of the Academy Introduction Mission. I am beyond excited, but I am also nervous. I wanted to come to AIM to make sure the Academy was the right place for me. I have always wanted to go to the Academy, but this is to confirm that this is where I am meant to be. This coming week I am looking forward to meeting like-minded people and experience life at the Academy. I cannot wait to meet my cadre and I am also very excited to stay in Chase Hall and feel like a real USCGA cadet.

I don’t have many concerns about the coming week. I usually wake up fairly early, I am a very active person, and I love working as a team and helping others. I am sure this week will live up to my expectations and most definitely surpass them.

Like I said I have wanted to go to the Academy for years now. My family has always been supportive about my decisions and have encouraged me to live my dreams. They have been nothing but helpful throughout this process and I know they are very proud of me.

This week my nerves are definitely turning into excitement and I cannot wait to see what AIM holds in store for me and my fellow AIMsters. I will touch base when I am at the Academy. Talk soon!

MORE ABOUT EMILY

Really Hard, But Not Impossible

(Initial Impressions, Mid-Week) Permanent link
Isabelita Sekulovic

Day One of AIM certainly caught everyone by surprise. To be honest, I did not know what a cadre was before reporting to the Coast Guard Academy, but believe me when I say I learned fast; more often than not, cadre are intense and may come off as scary to anyone who is unfamiliar with military training. With this being said, they are not individuals to be frightened by because at the end of the day, they are there for everyone’s best interest and they want AIMsters to thrive throughout the program.

For those who do not know, AIM is divided into multiple groups which are known as platoons and each platoon contains several AIMsters. AIM is packed with activities from 0530 in the morning until 2200 at night. An activity I enjoyed was sailing, it was a relaxing time, mainly because we were away from cadre, but also a time to reflect on the program along with appreciating the beauty of the Academy. Besides, there were Cliff bars!

Coming to AIM, I expected to establish friendships, but I did not expect to bond as a family in such a short amount of time. I can easily say that others and I are going to walk away from AIM with lifelong friendships.

Additionally, with the motivation from cadre, fellow shipmates, and staff of the Academy, my shipmates and I were able to comprehend the importance of mind over matter. I know for a fact that if there was no support from others during physical challenges, I would have told myself that I could not do it and that would have made it much more difficult to complete the tasks at hand.

The program so far is doing an excellent job at showcasing what the Academy is and has to offer.

All I have left to say is that AIM is hard, really hard, but not impossible and that is because of the family you have pushing you through it.

MORE ABOUT ISABILITA

More Determined Than Ever

(Initial Impressions, Mid-Week) Permanent link
Mary Coady

My initial impressions of AIM were very good. I was and am very happy with my group. I am in the Bravo platoon, which has come to be a new family over these past few days. The cadre truly want us to succeed, and I can see this in their actions, especially the amount of time they spend with us working on drills. I was expecting most of the events that happened, but I think the one thing that surprised me was talking to the cadre when they were relaxed.

My AIM experience has been amazing! I was not expecting certain things, but overall, I would say the one thing that surprised me was the number of things I had to memorize. I enjoyed everything, even the smoke sessions because they were challenging, but I rolled my ankle and was not able to participate in certain athletic events because of it. I was very disappointed about that, but the cadre did an amazing job of encouraging me and those others who were injured. I especially enjoyed hanging out with my shipmates during the relaxing time and participating in the creation of nicknames for each other. I have one more day to go, and I am confident in the success of my shipmates and I in this last day. At the moment, I am more determined than ever to apply, and get into the USCGA, and AIM has fermented that fact in my mind. I conclude by saying that I am thoroughly satisfied with my AIM experience.

MORE ABOUT MARY

My Whole Way of Thinking Changed in Just a Few Days

(Mid-Week) Permanent link
Mackenzie Boose

That first step I took out of my car upon arriving at the United States Coast Guard Academy was filled with excitement and nervousness. I had a couple of close friends attend AIM in the past, so I was familiar with the intensity. The Academy itself is a beautiful campus and I was very appreciative to be on it, even if that included running the stairway to heaven every day. My cadre were very intimidating at first because their job is to put us into a climate of being yelled at and keeping a perfect position of attention. As the days progressed, I got the hang of things and I realized the cadre only wanted what's best for us and to be our very best. The intimidation and yelling just goes along with getting our brains into the right mindset and contributing to the end goal. Additionally, it was great to be surrounded by people in my platoon that have similar goals and mindsets. All the AIMsters in my platoon showed the epitome of teamwork and drive to perform their best as a platoon.

One of the things that surprised me the most was my capabilities. Before coming to AIM my perception of what I could do was not very broad; I did not have much confidence in myself. Over the course of a few days in AIM, I realized I was capable of doing a lot more than my mind thinks it can do. I was pushed mentally and physically, and I know if I just put in 110% effort, I can do anything I set my mind to. My whole way of thinking was changed within a few days. For example, when doing the IT’s as a platoon I would just be thinking about doing better for my platoon and myself instead of thinking of the physical work I was doing.

One activity I particularly enjoyed was the sports portion of the week. One day my platoon and I competed in kickball. During kickball I enjoyed how we all came together and supported each other to win against the Bravo platoon with a score of 14-13. This game really showed me how the comradery was so great with just a few days of knowing these people. This gave me a taste of what it would be like during swab summer and during my time as a cadet. I hope to make these similar bonds as a cadet at the Academy.

MORE ABOUT MACKENZIE

Ready for the Challenge - Coady

(Why AIM) Permanent link
Mary Coady

I am so excited to be going to AIM!

One of the reasons I wanted to go to AIM is to see what life at the Coast Guard Academy would be like, and I hope to get a glimpse of that. I hope to better decide whether the Academy is the path that I would like to pursue. I also wanted to challenge myself to the best of my ability, and I think that AIM will help me to do so. I look forward to the challenges AIM will offer me. I also am excited to meet people who have similar goals and who could possibly be cadets with me if I ended up at the Academy.

Though I am excited for the challenges ahead I am not without my concerns. I am worried that I will not be able to keep up with the rigors of the physical training throughout the day. I am also worried that I will come out of my experience feeling just as conflicted about my decisions for my future as I was when I went in, and that I will have no insights on the Academy’s lifestyle. In the end though, I really think that I will gain something from this experience.

I am looking forward to this opportunity, but my family’s thoughts on it are bittersweet. I am the oldest of five, with four younger brothers. My parents are happy that I got in, because they know that I really wanted to go. At the same time they are not quite ready for me to begin to look at options for my future, and like many other parents they do not want to acknowledge that I am at a point where decisions have to be made. My younger brothers are happy for me, (possibly also happy for some “guy time” as well), though they aren’t happy that I’m going to be gone for five days and that I won’t be able to call them. To them that seems like a very long time especially since I’m very close with all them, and I haven’t been away for this long without a way to talk to them. In the end though, they are all excited to hear about my experience, and I am looking forward to starting!

MORE ABOUT MARY

Future Possibilities

(Why AIM) Permanent link
Mackenzie Boose

Before hearing my mentors talk about the military, I never considered joining the Coast Guard since no one in my family has ever been in the military. Once that door was opened, my mind filled with possibilities of a future in the service.

With AIM being next week I am thrilled to finally get a taste of Academy life. I was hoping to attend AIM ever since I joined the United States Coast Guard junior leadership program my freshman year of high school. A lot of my classmates raved about it. But my main reason for wanting to come to AIM is to really see all the different majors, activities and get a feel for what pathway I would love to go down - whether that be naval engineering or marine biology.

I am most looking forward to meeting new people from so many different places. Being from a small town I have grown up with the same people my whole life; it would be great to branch out and meet new people with different life experiences. I am also interested in hearing from cadets themselves about their experiences and tips for rising seniors who want to apply to the Academy. Additionally, I am super interested in being able to explore the campus re thoroughly throughout my week at AIM, especially since there is such a rich history with a lot of buildings and areas within the campus.

The only concerns I have with AIM have to do with nerves. A lot of people get nervous when doing something new in their life and being in a new environment. Adapting to a new place with people you don't know in a strict environment can be hard, but when I take a deep breath I realize all the other people participating in AIM probably feel the same way and I am not alone. In the end, I am hoping these first day nerves will fade with the first day and by the end I wouldn't want to leave the Academy or the new friends I made. I know I will come home with overwhelming confidence and excitement to share.

MORE ABOUT MACKENZIE

Only Elation & Enthusiasm

(Why AIM) Permanent link
Isabelita Sekulovic

My dream, since I was a little girl, has been to join the military. As I’ve grown, I’ve explored different paths to achieving that goal. The Coast Guard Academy is a strong, potential path and one that excites me. I want to attend AIM so I can seal the deal on my final decision. I expect AIM to challenge me mentally and physically. Also, I’m ecstatic about trying new things. I can’t wait to encounter the new activities at AIM that I have not yet come across. I know my experience at AIM will only build my motivation to attend the U.S Coast Guard Academy.

Many times, I have shared my career aspirations with other individuals in my community. Not once have I met anyone with similar goals. I am really looking forward to networking with like-minded students who are just as passionate about attending the U.S. Coast Guard Academy as I am. AIM will be the perfect opportunity to make new friendships where we will hold each other accountable and encourage each other during the application process. Along with that, I’m excited to see the campus and learn about its traditions.

Often, when I tell close friends and family that I will join the military, they always voice their concerns. I can’t say the same for myself. I have only elation and enthusiasm. As soon as I found out I was selected for AIM, I’ve been exhilarated. I can confidently say I have no concerns for AIM. I’m ready to embark on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! My family has their own thoughts, but they are thrilled I will take part in AIM. They are unfamiliar with the military and want me to get as much exposure as I can before making it a huge chapter in my life. I know I will come home with overwhelming confidence and excitement to share with them.

MORE ABOUT ISABILITA