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Not Letting The Setback Stop Me

(Initial Impressions) Permanent link
Elizabeth Meyer

When COVID began all I could think about was, “What does this mean for my summer plans?” I applied to AIM because I felt it was the only way to test if I had what it takes to succeed at USCGA. Then when the news came it would now be online I was devastated. How would I know if I belonged without ever setting foot on the campus?

Yet, I didn't let this setback stop me from participating in the program. Even in a virtual setting I still have the opportunity to learn more about life at USCGA. Just after one day I have learned so many new things about not only the program but also myself. In just a short video call I learned so much about Coast Guard history and traditions along with more personal information about each person participating in the program.

I was very surprised that even though this is a Coast Guard program, it focuses on making sure you make the right decision for you. The faculty and staff want to ensure you know all your options, not just this one. I really enjoyed the FIT workbook and how it focuses solely on what makes you the person you are.

I look forward to the rest of the week of AIM. Even though it is not a traditional setting I believe my fellow AIMsters and I can earn a lot of valuable lessons from this program.


Already Learned So Much

(Initial Impressions) Permanent link
Madison Nualart

Life has been full of adjusting and adapting to this new way of life during this pandemic. When I received my acceptance letter into the AIM program I was beyond excited and nervous.But was soon disappointed thinking it would be canceled due to COVID-19. During the livestream when all of the announcements were made I was relieved to hear that it would still go on virtually.

My initial impressions of the virtual AIM program was that it is organized and structured very well. It was fairly easy to find the launching page with all of the instructions and links to find everything I needed throughout my days. I thought because I had never used any of the websites or platforms they were using it would be difficult, but they left links for directions on how to use and set up everything which was extremely helpful. When I did have trouble with something I just emailed asking my question and they got back to me right away.

I was surprised to see that we get such close interactions with our division and cadre. I had expected, because it was virtual, that we would just watch prerecorded videos and not get the real life connection we would in real life, but I was so wrong. On the first day, I got put into my small division and was able to learn about my peers and cadre through a video chat. It was so fascinating to see where all my fellow AIM students live. Everyone was so nice and welcoming, especially my cadre. We were all able to ask our cadre questions about their experiences and what we should expect if we go to the Academy. I’ve learned so much already and it is only the beginning.


Getting To Know More About Myself and the Coast Guard

(Initial Impressions) Permanent link
Micah Tracy

When I got the news that the physical AIM program was cancelled, I was devastated. I had been very excited to be able to fly out by myself, and hopefully get a feel for what USCGA is like, and if I wanted to attend after high school. I was glad they were still offering something though, because some of the other military academies didn’t even offer a virtual option for their summer programs, they simply cancelled. I am curious to see what the AIM program brings, and how in depth it will be. I looked at the documents/syllabus for AIM, including the BOWSPRIT document. I don’t know if we will be going through that document, but there is a lot of information in there. I saw on the syllabus that we are going to be able to complete the interview for our application. I was not expecting that to be something that would happen, and that makes me kind of nervous because I was not mentally prepared for that. But I think I will do okay, I’m just glad I know now. I got my CGA gear bundle in the mail on Friday, and that was really exciting! It made me excited for the AIM week, and made it feel more real. All the gear is super nice and I know I will use it a lot, especially the water bottle.

On the first day we watched a video called “Our Mission” which was interesting. I was confused because that was the only thing on Vimeo from the link we got in the email. The schedule said everything from 11-12:30 was supposed to be on Vimeo but then there was a meeting started on Microsoft Teams. We were told the link from the email would lead us to a live video but it simply led to a prerecorded one minute video. This is when I joined the Microsoft Teams meeting and so did a lot of other people, and we couldn’t figure out what was supposed to be happening. Finally I decided to try the link on the landing page, and that one led to the live video.

I enjoyed the first FIT activity, where we wrote our life story and filled out the interests/activities portion. I think the interests/activities portion was really helpful, it was a unique way to figure out what I was interested in, and it was helpful to see what careers were in the categories that I scored the highest on. I think this format of test was really helpful unlike many other interest inventory assessment type things that I have tried to do.

The cadre seem very willing to help with anything that we need, and they were very good about answering questions. I liked the Platoon Introduction because I got a lot of questions answered and it was good to hear from the fellow students. I am glad we are divided into smaller divisions within the platoon though because I think that will make us more comfortable and easier to ask questions.

Overall I am very excited for the rest of the week and to get to know more about myself and the Coast Guard Academy! I think the FIT program will be very helpful because I don’t know yet what I want to major in, and I think it will help me figure out what I want to do.


Meeting Us Right Where We Are Today

(Initial Impressions) Permanent link
Eli Griffin

I think it is fair to say that there is no one that the Coronavirus has not affected in some way. Like many, my junior year was cut short, classes moved online, and many of the upcoming summer events were canceled. Waking up to emails about cancelations became part of the “new normal”. So, when the USCGA announced that AIM was moving to a virtual arena, I had mixed reactions. One of the biggest draws to AIM is the challenge of surviving the physical and mental demands, along with getting a feel for the realities of attending a service academy. Knowing that online typically translates to “not the same as the real deal,” I was hesitant to set any expectations. However, the opportunity was still there to engage with cadets, officers and my peers; learn a little about the inside operations of the Academy; and feel a sense of achievement for completing a course with a known reputation of difficulty. I was all in. I mean, it wasn’t a cancelation! And, in the time of COVID, that can mean everything.

I resolved to enter the virtual experience with a positive attitude and, honestly, somewhat indifferent expectations. That is, until it was time to log in. That moment met me with a little bit of anxiety and apprehension. I realized seconds before joining the group that I had no idea what to expect and that was a little unsettling. So it began. I was greeted by Jon Heller, an Academy staff member. He walked us through a series of slides instructing us to undergo the challenge of taking a deeper look at ourselves. He discussed the mission of the USCG, shared successful and unsuccessful cadet experiences, and encouraged us to weigh the option of the seriousness of the USCG service. Mostly, he encouraged us to weigh the opportunity of attending any college and how that would best fit our individual needs. This was completely unexpected. I thought this would be more of a program to encourage and prepare for applications. Instead, I found myself having an internal dialog about my realistic goals and aspirations. This was great! I had never taken the time to think along these terms, and the opportunity was welcomed.

As the day went on, I engaged with cadre and met some of the other AIMsters in my platoon. There was a question and answer session and I learned so much during this time. I felt encouraged to participate and ask questions. The cadre appeared engaged and supportive. Overall, day one was a great experience, the time flew by, and the program is already greatly exceeding my expectations. I can tell that the online events have been well planned to engage the AIMsters in a practical and realistic way-USCGA is meeting us right where we are in our journey today, no matter where we are in that journey. In my opinion (given that it has just been one day), this is no small accomplishment. Neither is the very real fact that I went nearly half a day without thinking of the Coronavirus! I am excited (and still a little nervous) to see what day two brings.


USCGA: Still Giving Us the Chance to Learn

(Initial Impressions) Permanent link
Anya Patel

For rising seniors, many of the amazing programs and events such as AIM were planned for the summer of 2020. During my junior year, I worked to balance all of my studying and activities along with applications for summer programs. This year was supposed to be the time I could experience things that were only available to those about to become a senior. I was excited to have the opportunity to learn new things and create fun memories, but then COVID-19 hit.

Many of the summer events I gained acceptance into were cancelled completely. Initially I didn’t have much hope that I would be able to go in person to the Academy, but I was overjoyed to hear that AIM was planning for virtual sessions. I distinctly remember rushing into my parents’ room and yelling, “Look Mom, Pops! I got into AIM and it’ll be VIRTUALLLLL!!!”

As you can tell, I was thrilled and appreciative that USCG was still giving us the opportunity to learn more about the Academy. They effectively adapted to the challenge of putting together a virtual program in a short time and that is actually one of the things that impressed me the most when I first logged on to Vimeo on Day 1. Everyone that introduced themselves was smiling and you could tell that they wanted to help us and make Virtual AIM a great experience. Later we were able to meet with the cadre and other AIMsters. This interactive and welcoming experience is what sets AIM apart from other virtual programs. The cadre made the presentations and conversations captivating and everyone I spoke to was very open to answering any question us AIMsters had. I cannot wait to see what is planned for later this week!


Excited For The Week Ahead

(Initial Impressions) Permanent link
Olivia Lutkevich

Like most rising seniors, the summer of 2020, for me, is one to remember. I had many plans: college visits, the AIM program, athletics, and a job. I was going to spend as much time with my friends and make as many memories as I could before buckling down to enter the final year of my life as a dependent high school senior. A stressful, unknown future lay dormant in the foggy distance of my mind. Summer was my last chance to confirm the places I would be applying to for college but unfortunately, that all changed when COVID-19 struck.

Many things were postponed, others were canceled. I thought, for sure, all of the service academy summer programs were going to be canceled, but then I heard the news that AIM was not going to be canceled or postponed. It was just going to be virtual. I was overjoyed when hearing this news because so many of my other summer plans were completely canceled. No one was trying to make up for the disappointment that came with the cancelation of these plans, but the Coast Guard Academy put in the effort to structure a productive and useful virtual program that would help teens, like myself, directly determine if the USCGA was right for them.

When I first logged on to Vimeo for the initial AIM session, I was greeted with several smiling faces from the AIM staff and cadre. Each one of them introduced themselves, and as they spoke, I could tell that they wanted to be there and guide us on our journey. The atmosphere of the team seemed very inviting and while there were a few technical bumps along the way, the first day was very informative and captivating. After the introduction, we got to meet with our platoon and platoon leaders. The other AIMsters seem very nice and I have many things in common with all of them. They all seem very eager to learn more about the Academy. The cadre are also very open and welcoming. We are the first week of AIM so obviously, there are going to be problems because we are all trying to learn how to do things and we are all figuring it out together. The first day, in my opinion, was a success.

Something that surprised me was how much time and work the cadre and staff put into the program as a whole. I can tell they have spent a lot of time trying to perfect the schedule for each day and cater it toward what they feel would benefit us the most.

On the second day, Tuesday, July 7th, we learned all about the majors at the Academy and because you have to choose your major when submitting your application, this was very helpful and informative. We also got to meet our admissions officer and ask him/her questions about the admissions process. Several of my questions were answered and now I feel ready to conquer the USCGA application when it opens up! So I would say, the first two days of my virtual AIM experience have been very enlightening and successful, and I am very excited for the rest of the week!


AIM: A Virtual Experience Rather Than No Experience

(Initial Impressions) Permanent link
Ellie Forbis

When I received the news that AIM would be virtual this year I was relieved, though a little disappointed. I was relieved because I’d been looking forward to participating in AIM and was worried that it would get cancelled like many of the other activities and camps I’d planned to do this summer. I was glad that I would still get to experience AIM even if it wasn’t to the full extent. I was disappointed because a huge part of the AIM journey is being on campus and interacting with cadre and fellow AIMsters.

I’m grateful that I get to have a virtual experience rather than no experience. I’m happy that virtual AIM still allows me to interact with cadre and fellow AIMsters, even if not in person. I’m ready to learn more about the Coast Guard Academy.

My initial impression of the virtual AIM program is that it’s very well organized. I’m impressed at how smoothly the session has been running so far and how helpful and informative all the cadre have been. Compared to other virtual events, presentations, etc. that I have participated in, virtual AIM has probably been one of the best. Everyone seems to know what they’re doing. The cadre have all been so welcoming to us AIMsters. They’re very knowledgeable about the Coast Guard Academy and its history and have been eager to answer questions and help AIMsters. Similarly, I have found my fellow AIM students to be team players, happily assisting others who were having trouble finding videos and assignments.

My initial concern for this program is that virtual AIM seems to have a lot less planned than usual. I feel this way because today we didn’t seem to do much besides an introduction to AIM, meet our platoons, and hear a bit about the history of the Coast Guard Academy. I just wish we could get a bit more instruction, though I know this is difficult since AIM is virtual. On the other hand, I do think that the assignments in the Fit book are productive. I’m also concerned about not getting the physical fitness experience that I was hoping for, especially since the videos weren’t uploaded to Vimeo.