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Winter Leave and Returning to the CGA

(Just for Fun, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2020, Mathematics) Permanent link
Francesca Farlow

Winter leave, Mid-year Administrative Processing (MAP) week, and the first day of the new semester are officially over and the academic year is back in swing. Over winter leave, I went home and saw my younger sister and parents, caught up with friends from high school, and spent a lot time at the American Airlines Center in Dallas watching the Dallas Stars play, which is probably one of the things I miss most about home. The day after Christmas my family traveled to Florida (about two hours south of Tampa) to visit my grandparents, aunt, uncles, and cousins from both my mom and dad’s sides. We celebrated Christmas again, my grandpa’s 85th birthday, competed in a 5-mile run, and rung in 2019. I also spent days on the beach soaking in the sun knowing soon I would be back here in Connecticut where you can’t leave Chase Hall with anything less than long sleeves, hats, gloves, and boots. When we returned to Dallas, we bought my mom a new car, celebrated her birthday, and took down all of our house decorations from Christmas. Leaving home is always hard, but I knew I’d be home with half of second semester under my belt in just two short months.

During MAP week I had to change rooms and roommates, take the Physical Fitness Exam, ensure my schedule was correct for the semester, purchase books, and prepare my room for inspection. When the week was finally over my friends and I attended the CGA hockey game at Connecticut College and enjoyed some food off base. The first couple days of school have been long, but eventually you get back in the swing of it all. Luckily, this weekend is already Martin Luther King Day which means we will not have class on Monday. I am meeting my aunt and uncle in New York City to see a musical and spend time together. This will be the third time my aunt and uncle have made this trip on MLK Weekend, it is our annual tradition and is a great way to relieve some of the back-to-school stress.

This semester I am enrolled in five core classes: Principles of Electronic Communication Systems, Mathematical Statistics, Probability Models, Criminal Justice, and Differential Equations. In addition, I am taking a Conversational Spanish class that meets once a week to continue to improve my fluency. I am looking forward to this semester and my final summer at the Academy.

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There’s Something About a Road Trip

(Just for Fun, Class of 2021) Permanent link
Jasmine Rodriguez

It starts off with a few glances at the clock, and nowadays a second glance at the estimated time of arrival on the GPS gauging speed limits, distances, and traffic. It starts with a list of the things you brought to pass the time: once, it was Phonics Blasters, books, drawing pads, and the atlas. Now, it’s downloaded movies, match-three phone games, an old hand-held Gameboy, a couple of books (more sarcastic and cynical than the ones you used to read), and snacks snuck in or granted from the front seat.

An hour in, you’re adjusting position to trade your foot cramp for a leg cramp. Two hours in, the smell of dog is ripe and the bladder is begging to be emptied a little too early. Three hours in, one book and five puzzle-game lives down, the smell of dog becomes homely and cozy. The dog smells like love and radiates warmth on your cold feet. The desert view is a little less boring, especially when you pass the occasional casino resort or sketchy rest stop. The sky is the most painful, bland blue ever recorded in history. The pop music has been switched to the ever-lasting drawl and twang of country singers pulling on the older passengers’ heartstrings. The always-just-a-little-too-loud sibling conversations and quibbles turn into silence, graced either by sleep or books or electronics. Unattainable, beautiful cars glide past, made to stand out even more when surrounded by dust-covered minivans and scratched trucks toting huge RV’s. Every now and then, the bumps on the road become a singing competition with good-old manufactured staccato. “Aa-aa-aah-a-a-a-a-aaah-ah-ah.” A bored glance around the vehicle, a thought about eating from boredom, relieved by sleeping for five minutes at a time before the bumps in the road smack your head rudely against the frame of the door. Time passes slower the closer you get. First hour, flash, second hour, buzz, third hour, hum, fourth hour? Are we still in the fourth hour? Barely brushing the fifth hour at the second rest stop, and the sixth hour, it might as well have taken six hours on its own.

Can we have more food? Why can’t I sleep? Every position hurts. Suffering together because misery loves company, and family sticks together. The billboards become more frequent to denote civilization along the highway and then fade out of existence again. Boxes of color dot the brown environment, and then they’re gone once more. Even though you haven’t been to Taco Bell in years, a Quesarito and a Baja Blast slushy start to sound like ambrosia for the fake hunger of boredom. Your mind wanders off for who-knows-how-long, was it an hour? Two? Just two minutes? Better daydream again…the clouds are great inspiration for this, when they’re available in the sky. Sometimes the only cloud is the jet trail interrupting the wide, blue plain. The white noise of the road becomes strangely quiet as the city slows the drive, and then it fades loudly into the background again as you leave the city. An hour and a half left? Man, where does the time go! But how long will that remaining ninety minutes really take?

There’s something about a road trip. Dreaded, but romantic. Long, but brief. Simultaneously comfortable and uncomfortable, crammed together for too long to be neutral but not long enough with the people you adore, or are at least supposed to. A family truce is in place. We have to live with each other in this prison-cell sized space for these consecutive hours ─ no arguments from the past, no irritations or raised voices, nothing that could distract the driver whose hands contain our very lives. God help us all if someone cuts him off. The driver is the heart and soul of the vehicle, and we are just the cells in the body. A conversation here and there about mundane things or plans for arrival passes some more seconds. Some more shifting, more silence, more nothing out the window. The kind of sleep that isn’t deep enough to feel good, but is just enough for you to leave a wet spot on the cushy thing wrapped around your seatbelt to keep it from slicing your neck. The kind of sleep that leaves a bad taste in your mouth and tingling little pricks under the skin of your arms.

There’s just something about a road trip. The journey, the destination, the return. The character-building. Patience, tolerance, how to sleep anywhere, how to sit and think quietly for hours, flexibility, resourcefulness, the discipline to hold your bladder ─ things every good person should know and perfect.

There’s something about a road trip, just something I hate, and something I love, something I wouldn’t trade faster travel for. Give me family, friends, a dog, a car, a tank full of gas. Let’s go.

MORE ABOUT JASMINE

Looking Back, Looking Forward

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Jacqueline Jones

Hey guys!

Time is flying by. Winter break has ended, and classes are about to begin next Monday, so I want to take this time to reflect on last semester and explain what I look forward to for this upcoming spring semester. Last semester kept me busy with dance practice Monday through Thursday and performing at football games on the weekends. Despite always being busy with dance, I am always smiling when I am around my teammates. Our team dynamic was so close that we spent a lot of time together outside of practicing by eating dinner together in the wardroom or going out to eat or get our nails done during liberty hours. This bonding led us to have very fun experiences when we performed, especially on our trips to New York and Canada.

Other than spending time on the dance team, I also had a lot of division work. I am in Hotel Company, which is responsible for morale and community service. My division was eight people, two in each class and we were responsible for community service logistics. This means that we got in contact with the person in charge of a community service event and then our job was to coordinate volunteers, including setting up spreadsheets to sign up, making announcements about the event, and arranging transportation. Luckily for me, staying busy and helping my company is what gives me a sense of purpose.

Academically, I got to take electives for the first time since I have been at the Academy. I decided to push off taking Probability and Statistics and Principles of Electronic Communications to the spring semester, which are required classes for Marine Environmental Science majors. Instead I got to take Microeconomics and Emergency Management. The Emergency Management class allowed me to participate in an amazing opportunity to go to D.C. (HOME!!!) to visit Coast Guard Headquarters, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Unfortunately, that means that this semester I take both Probability and Statistics, Principles of Electronic Communications, along with other Marine Environmental Science classes. I am looking forward and excited about Analytical Chemistry and Biological and Chemical Oceanography. I am also in a different division. In my new division, we are responsible for helping to announce community service events to the corps and keeping track of the number of community service hours the corps does. Each cadet is required to do six hours of service. However, the corps is so committed to actively participating in events within the New London community and surrounding areas that a lot of cadets end up doing more than the required amount.

Another change to this semester is that I will have to put away my dance shoes for a season. As future dance captain, I will be preparing for next fall season by looking into how we can improve our uniforms and routines. I will also be able to spend more time on other activities. For example, I am the Girl Scouts Coordinator for the Scoutmasters Club. Each year this club puts on an event to help Boy Scouts get merit badges. This year, I want to coordinate with the Girl Scouts to put on a similar event for them. This semester is going to be another busy one! Wish me luck! As always, if you have any questions hit me up via email.

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Yet Another Winter Leave Has Come and Gone

(Just for Fun, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Kirsten Sharp

Winter leave is always a great time for cadets to get away from the Academy, travel or stay at home, and just regroup. It is an amazing opportunity for us to come back fresh and ready to conquer another semester. As we all know, it is important to take some time away from work in order to gain a new perspective.

How much time we get over leave always depends on how far apart the winter holidays are from each other, and how many finals you have. I am somebody who cannot stay in one place for more than a few days without getting bored, so I love to travel as much as possible over leave.

This year we had about three weeks and I made the most out of those days by flying all over the country to visit my friends and family. I started off in my hometown in Pennsylvania, then flew out to our family’s horse ranch in Arizona. From Arizona, I flew out to the state of Washington to visit one of my friends who left the Academy when we were 4/c. She is actually enlisted and living a great life, so it was wonderful to be able to see her! Next, I flew down to Georgia to visit my grandparents, and then finished my journey in Florida to visit a friend that graduated last year and is having an excellent first tour as an ensign.

Sometimes people ask me how I am able to pull off so much traveling, and the answer is pretty simple. As cadets, we get a limited amount of time off every year. I save up money throughout the year by doing little things like only ordering food once every week or every few weeks, using the same Christmas decorations in my room since 4/c year instead of buying new ones each year, and being all-around frugal. This way, I can travel a bunch and be sure to make my rounds when we have leave!

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Interested in National Security

(Class of 2020, Government) Permanent link
Eric Noble

Over the summer, I got to meet and spend time with the Philippines National Security Advisor (NSA), General Hermogenes Esperon. He visited Washington D.C. and San Francisco. In D.C., he met with his counterparts in the national security sector. In San Francisco he was assisted by my father, who is the Police Attaché of the Philippine Consulate General of the West Coast. Since I was spending the summer with my parents in San Francisco, I was able to tag along with my dad and spent some time with the NSA. We took him to the golf course and went to some scenic spots in the Bay Area.

General Esperon was former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and is highly regarded for his accomplishments in the security sector. Thus, I was so touched when he spoke to me with such humility, kindness and humor. When my mom requested a photo with him, he gladly accepted. He even congratulated me for getting accepted at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. That meant a lot to me and my parents, especially my dad. Both of them went to the Philippine Military Academy, so they share a special bond.

As the national security advisor, General Esperon leads the National Security Council (NSC). He is the head of Philippine president's principal forum for reviewing and developing new national security and foreign policies. I felt proud that he discussed some policies with me that he is working on, particularly countering internal security threats. It confirmed my desire to work for the NSA someday. It also inspired me to work harder on my major, International Relations.

The history of the council starts with the Commonwealth Act No. 1. This is the original policy basis of the national security program of the Republic of the Philippines. That act mandated the establishment of a Council of National Defense to advise the president on all matters of national defense policy, with membership consisting of the president, all living former presidents, the Vice President, the head of each executive department, the Chief of Staff, and six other members to be designated by the President.

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The Fall Semester Frenzy

(Academics, Class of 2019, Engineering) Permanent link
Stephanie Burckhard

Well, it’s almost the end of the semester! There has been a lot of fun activities and events keeping up the spirit of the corps before the infamous “Dark Ages” set upon the Academy. We’ve had morale events ranging from costume contests to company dinners. And, we’ve also had our first snowfall! Sadly it did not result in a snow day. At this point in the year, the 4/c have found a “rhythm” to the school year and they have definitely improved their spirit missions (pranks) on the upper-class. It’s great watching 2022 grow and helping them get ready for the big indoctrination exam next semester: Boards. Compared to last year, academics are more difficult, but I enjoy the challenge they bring. At this point of the year, most of the 3/c have settled into a major yet there are still those few who are deciding if it’s the right major for them. Although at one point, I was torn between ORCA and Civil Engineering, I’m now confident that I will stay on the track of Civil Engineering. It’s crazy to think there’s only a few more classes left in the school year before finals!

As always, feel free to contact me with any questions you have. I can be reached through email at Stephanie.L.Burckhard@uscga.edu.

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The Ride is Just as Fun as the Finish

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Jasmine Rodriguez

My prep school was Marion Military Institute in Alabama. It was very secluded and provided challenging chemistry and physics classes, which actually prepared me for sophomore year academics here at the Academy. It also provided a good transition into Academy-style scheduling. I spent a lot of time working out, some of it mandatory at 400 a.m. and most of it on my own time in the indoor pool, doing intercompany sports, running around trails, or hiking in Birmingham.

Academy life is incredibly challenging the first year. Between squaring, bracing, and freezing to death half the year, it's hard to stay positive sometimes. If you come here with solid tunnel vision on the long-term goal and a positive attitude, though, you'll do better than survive ‒ you'll thrive. We have a beautiful campus with amazing resources I would not have found at any other civilian or military college. The classes are small, the staff truly care about your success and, at the end of a semester, you feel proud and accomplished. As far as sacrifices, your liberty time is heavily restricted the first two years. You cannot have a car or drive within a 100-mile radius until senior year without permission, but you don't really need one since we have the free liberty buses. You have specific uniforms to wear on liberty the first two years, but we get the privilege of civilian attire junior and senior year. As someone who had a few jobs, then worked in the fleet for a year and a half, and experienced prep school (and its variation of leniency), it can feel a little too tight here sometimes. Some of the rules might seem a little ridiculous or old-fashioned. Some of the restrictions might feel like you've gone back to living with your parents, like you can't be a real adult. It's all for a reason. I remind myself frequently that the program was originally created to graduate excellent military officers, and that eventually all this work will pay off.

I still enjoy my time as a cadet. There are hard days where too many assignments and military obligations are happening all at once, and then there are days where school is canceled because of snow and we all go out and play like we are in middle school. There are many extracurricular activities available at the Academy. For example, I got the opportunity to direct my first play here as a sophomore! Club leadership that early on is almost unheard of, and I received some backlash for it, but I love the performing arts. I collected a cast of peers and classmates, organized experienced cadets who had helped in the past, invited a local playwright to help critique, and pulled off a full three-act play in three and a half months. I also have a friend who started a basic car mechanics club so cadets would know how to change oil, tires, and jump-start a car by senior year. I have another friend who started a precision drill team and takes his team to events all over the state. This place imbues you with energy and makes you reach high above your original goals. Potential becomes kinetic here, and even though there are days that are extremely difficult, there are more days that make me feel like this is the best thing I could have done with my life. I have made very close friends that I will keep for the rest of my life, in my classmates and in my officer and enlisted mentors. I encourage anyone who is considering college and considering commissioning to take this challenge, prove themselves, and have fun along the way. There are more opportunities than ever within these walls, and the ride is just as fun as the finish.

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Thinking Back on My 3/c Summer Experience

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Malia Haskovec

Part of what helped get me through the rigors of 4/c year was knowing that I was going to have an awesome 3/c summer experience. Returning to Chase Hall after 14 weeks, I can say that my summer was one of the most unique, developmental, invigorating, and fun experiences of my life. I started off the first five weeks of summer training on USCGC Eagle (the Barque sailing ship that is used to train swabs, cadets, and members of the OCS class), sailing from New London to St. Thomas, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. 3/c Eagle is much different than Swab Summer Eagle. You’re underway for longer, have more responsibility and autonomy, and need to retain a lot of information. My favorite part about Eagle was learning how to use celestial navigation. Every night, we were able to use sextants to “shoot” the stars that are so plainly visible and bright in the middle of the open ocean. From there, we can make specific calculations and figure out our position. It’s exciting to be removed from the convenience and luxury of technology and take a step back in time to learn how the first sailor navigated.

The following six weeks I spent at Coast Guard Station Channel Islands Harbor (STACIH) in California, a couple hours north of Los Angeles. I went with three other classmates who I never really spoke to before, but we quickly became good friends living together in the station barracks. Small boat station life is different than underway life. The primary missions of the station are search and rescue, and law enforcement. Since the Channel Islands are a tourist and vacation destination, STACIH got a lot of search and rescue calls, which cadets got to help facilitate and monitor in the communications watch room. I also got to experience driving the small boats, boarding operations, drug busts, search and rescue operations, station maintenance, while taking time to explore southern California. We got to go to Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Ojai, Malibu, Santa Monica, and even camp out on Santa Cruz, one of the four Channel Islands, which was a highlight of the summer. I highly recommend visiting even if this isn’t where you end up 3/c summer.

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