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How to Prepare for Swab Summer

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2022, Swab Summer) Permanent link
Erin Edwards

Hey everyone! The class of 2025 is roughly one month away from the start of Swab Summer so I thought I would share some things that I wish I knew before Day 1! As always, if you have any questions let me know in the comments.

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Ready to Serve

(Class of 2021, Government) Permanent link
Eric Noble

I’m incredibly grateful for the experiences I’ve had at USCGA. I’ve been taught by an outstanding faculty and a dedicated team of coaches, company officers, and company chiefs, upper-class cadets and even my under-class cadets. To my sponsors, the Pacquette and Griffin family, the Academy clinic, the mailroom employees, and the wardroom staff, each of you will have a special place in my heart. Representing the Philippines in a U.S. military academy setting was quite challenging, but, at the same time, my daily interactions with all of you made it fulfilling and rewarding.

As an international relations major, I am ecstatic to serve the Philippine Coast Guard and apply what I have learned from my cadetship. My classes in international law, transnational threats, Spanish, Korean, public policy-making, maritime law enforcement, and criminal justice were some of the most memorable experiences I have had. I cannot wait to impart my acquired knowledge to my future units.

I thank the CG-12 staff and the rest of my mentors in the Philippine Coast Guard for their tremendous support and for providing us the tools we needed to succeed. I would also like to congratulate the class of 2021 on our graduation and wish everyone fair winds and following seas. We’ve all worked hard, and I know that we’ll continue to do so in our careers as commissioned officers. I’ll miss you all.

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The Final Blog

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2021) Permanent link
Stephanie Burckhard

Well, the time has arrived. The great Class of 2021 (go odd years!) is heading out to the fleet in just a few days. It still hasn’t hit me yet that classes are done and it’s time to leave Connecticut. The classes of 2022, 2023, and 2024 have been slowly leaving Chase Hall to head out to the fleet or to home for a short summer vacation. It was weird saying goodbye to people I knew I wouldn’t see again for probably a few months or years.

I’m excited to announce that I received my top billet choice! I will be heading to USCGC Bertholf stationed in Alameda, CA as a Student Engineer.

These past few years at CGA have been something I wouldn’t trade the world for. Since Day One, I have made so many amazing friendships that I know will last me well into the fleet and beyond. There have been ups and downs and each time, I have grown as a stronger leader and person. I firmly believe I am a completely different person than when I entered those front gates on June 26, 2017.

The Academy is a challenging, demanding, and rigorous 4-year program. The biggest piece of advice I would leave with is to always cherish the good times. Those will be memories you will turn back on and smile about the most.

To those interested in applying to CGA, go take a visit or apply for AIM. It’s difficult to describe the family atmosphere in one blog and it was this atmosphere that drew me to pick CGA. If you can’t do either, feel free to reach out to any of the bloggers on this page!

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Eagle

(Class of 2023, Eagle) Permanent link
Teegan Cordova

I love Eagle. I absolutely adore the Coast Guard’s 295-foot, barque class tall ship – meaning, a sailing ship with three masts, two of which have square sails, while the third is fore-and-aft rigged. Every officer commissioned into the service since the 1940s has sailed on it, and I glow with pride to have spent even a limited time working on the one-of-a-kind boat. If you are planning on attending the Academy, I would recommend that you approach the Eagle experience with an open mind. There may be nothing else quite like Eagle in the rest of the Coast Guard, but that truth makes time spent on the boat truly a unique opportunity.

There are two tall ships in the U.S. military: USCGC Eagle and the USS Constitution. Given the Constitution’s advanced age (it was commissioned by George Washington before the War of 1812!), Eagle is the only active-duty tall ship in the American seagoing services. Many Coast Guard and Academy practices are steeped in what the CGA mission refers to as “the sea and its lore,” traditions that date back to the golden age of sail, when vessels like Constitution and Eagle made up the Navy and Revenue Cutter Service, the precursor of the modern Coast Guard. Being on Eagle gives context for many customs practiced at the Academy. I also love the feeling of, pre-COVID, giving tours to little kids excited about the “pirate ship” ... which isn’t historically accurate, but it’s always great to see the next generation delighted about boats.

And I saved my favorite part about Eagle for last: the camaraderie. Even if sailing isn’t your jam, it’s a great bonding opportunity. Over Swab Summer, your class will be broken into three groups for Eagle, and over 3/c summer, there are two phases. You’ll be on the boat with a third to a half of your class at any given time. Being on a 295-foot boat with that many people brings its own challenges, but it’s certainly a catalyst for team building. Furthermore, you’ll be assigned to a smaller division to stand watch, and people from my Eagle divos are close friends to this day. Experiences like seeing the milky way at 4 AM, watching dolphins dance in the bow waves, and blasting Elton John while washing dishes are some of my most cherished memories as a cadet, and I’m so thankful for the people I got to share them with. I hope that, like me, you’ll love Eagle, but no matter what, please be openminded to the adventure.

MORE INFORMATON ABOUT TEEGAN

Creative Outlets

(Extracurricular and Faith-Based Involvement, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2024) Permanent link
Cole Fulton

It’s important for everyone to have a creative outlet – a way in which to express oneself through another medium. For some, this is athletics: the artistic maneuvers of flipping through the air or shooting a basketball. For others, this can be music: the playing of instruments or the writing of original songs.

I myself have spent considerable time seeking out this creative outlet – trying everything from cooking to kendama (a Japanese skill toy) – until arbitrarily stumbling upon photography. Now, four years later, I’ve found that my journey with photography has taught me technical proficiencies, different perspectives, and other valuable lessons applicable to all aspects of my life. While this may sound corny or repetitive, I feel that it’s important for others to understand photography at its essence so that they may see the benefits of creative outlets in their own lives. Because, unlike the commonly held belief, photography goes far beyond just taking a photograph.

The camera I first started with was none other than the camera on my iPhone 5. Now compared to other smartphone cameras at this time, my 14-year-old self was fascinated by the phone’s capabilities. I was able to shoot telephoto shots, as well as make minor corrections through apple’s digital editing software. I would spend hours setting up mini photoshoots with my friends – and when they got tired of it – with my dog. However, as I continued to exclusively use my phone for photography, I began to notice some limitations. My pictures were half the quality of other professional shots I’d see on Instagram; moreover, certain photographs that require longer exposures were not possible due to the iPhone’s fixed shutter speed. Knowing I needed a better camera to improve my photographs, I began researching my options. And, after nearly 2 months of contemplating, I finally decided on my next camera.

The Nikon D3300. This DSLR camera was the first “real” camera I had ever received. Unlike an iPhone, DSLR’s have a much broader range of capabilities… and certainly are not the shape of a smartphone. The kit that came with my camera included a 24-50 mm lens, filters, an external flash, and many other photography trinkets. My first time using the camera was a nightmare. All my photos came out either overexposed, are grainer than a sandy beach. But, overtime, I eventually learned the ins and outs of this magnificent tools and was able to produce “post-worthy” content. This camera became my most prized possession for the next 3 years until I realized it had its limitations. The D3300 could not perform as well under lowlight conditions and the autofocus was very outdated. In need of a new camera body, I scoured the internet for my next soulmate until eventually finding a match on amazon’s Black Friday sale.

The Nikon Z6: sleek in its design and boundless in its abilities (not really true but it was certainly an upgrade). While my bank account didn’t agree, this was by far the best purchase I’d ever made. I was now able to take quality astrophotography shots and shoot detailed photographs in lowlight conditions. In addition to the camera body, I’d also purchased a 70-200 mm lens and a 50mm lens for wildlife and portraits shots respectively. After using this camera for about 4 months now, I feel like I am close to mastering it; though, only time will tell. I plan on using this camera for the duration of my time at the academy until eventually moving on to a different Mirrorless camera.

Beyond the technical aspects I’ve developed through photography, I have established other skills to be grateful for. Photography has taught me to be confident in myself and my abilities. When working with a client – or while out in public – it is essential that you show you know what you’re doing. Any sense of doubt or insecurity will make others feel uneasy. So, in order to conduct successful photoshoots, it’s imperative that you remain calm and collected the entire time. This directly relates to the bearing that one must uphold as a military officer. In times of danger and distress, Coast Guard officers are expected to maintain a professional presence to guide others to safety. The maturity I’ve learned from photograph has certainly helped me in that aspect of my life.

Another important lesson photography has taught me is to not be afraid of putting yourself out there: you can only hide behind a camera for so long. When I first started getting into photography, I was very self-conscious of what others thought of my abilities. This scared me away from posting on social media or reaching out to other photographers. Overtime, I realized that I would get nowhere in this hobby by staying under my shell. So, I began forcing myself to be under the spotlight by submitting my works to competitions and generating a platform for myself. This allowed me to grow my credibility tremendously and provides another reason to continue this career. I’ve always been reluctant to unwarranted attention, I’m an introvert as some would say. However, photography has allowed me to break through these self-conscious barriers and appreciate my work for what it is, not how its perceived.

Photography is a very important aspect of my life for a multitude of reasons, though at essence, it can be described as my creative outlet. It is a way for me to develop, express, and reflect upon my qualities as a person. This passion has led me to do great things in my life and I can’t wait to see where it will take me in the future.

I hope this gave you a perspective into the essentiality of creative outlets and the motivation to discover your own.

Follow my new photography page: @FultonsFotos on IG.

MORE INFORMATON ABOUT COLE

My Morning Routine

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2022) Permanent link
Elizabeth Carter

Get a sneak peek of life inside the barracks. Follow Erin Edwards along through her morning routine.


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Excited for Summer, Extra-Curricular Activities

(Extracurricular and Faith-Based Involvement, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2022) Permanent link
Elizabeth Carter

Happy spring everyone!! It is finally beginning to feel like spring around here. Outdoor Track and Field season is in full swing, and the days seem to get warmer as time goes on. There is an exciting energy in the air as well, as 1/c cadets count down the days to the long awaited graduation.

This summer is proving to be a gauntlet of its own right, as I prepare for a position on Battalion Staff. I applied back in December of 2020, and upon receiving a role, have been steadily producing work in preparation for the 2021 summer training period. I am beyond excited for what this summer holds for each trainee and cadet alike.

The second half of my summer will be spent on a tiny buoy tender out of Rockland, Maine. I cannot wait to find myself secluded in a small New England town for my 21st birthday. I plan on finding the best lighthouses, best lobster and clam shacks, and exploring national parks. I have heard nothing but good things about Maine in the summer, and I look forward to the time away from New London. It will surely be a different experience from being a 3/c on a gigantic National Security Cutter. I think I will fit right into the ATON life, and bond with the smaller crew once I report in. I’ll admit, I am counting down the days ‘til Rockland!

Ring dance is right around the corner, and the USAA Career Starter loan is just within reach. Things are starting to look up around here, and I am extremely excited to begin the final year of my Academy journey.

MORE ABOUT ELIZABETH

Tell Us Your Life Story

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2024) Permanent link
Cole Fulton

"Tell us your story." The words glared back at me as if they were looking into my soul.

I shut my laptop, laid back on my chair, and closed my eyes; though the words still lingered – engraved into my vision. Starting out new academic semesters is always an exciting time, though writing “about me” bios for certain classes reduces that excitement significantly. Some find it easy to blurb their entire life story into a measly 500-word essay… I’m definitely not one of those individuals. My mind initially raced with topics to write about but was quickly suppressed with sheer nothingness. I was lost for ideas.

I opened my eyes to find an overused ukulele meeting my gaze. Feelings of warmth and joy engendered from within me. Seeing the tarnished ukulele sitting in the corner of my room reminded me of my early childhood, growing up on the Island of Oahu.

The magnificent beaches, deep-blue waters, and exquisite aromas of fresh ahi poke immediately came to mind. Hawaii, a place so diverse yet so connected, was a place I called home for the first 13 years of my life. My family and I were cramped - yet content - residing in a small house in Mililani. Street fights and drug deals occurred frequently in my neighborhood, but I was too distracted with my Magic Tree House books and Pokémon cards to notice.

Still joyous from the memories of a nostalgic past, my eyes drifted away from the ukulele and locked onto a duffel bag hanging ominously from the corner of my locker. A shiver creeped down my spine. What was now empty and collecting dust had once carried my personal belongings 2,872 miles from the islands of Hawaii to the potato fields of Idaho.

The unforeseen move to Idaho introduced me to an abnormal foe: adversity. I struggled to adjust to this new environment, unwilling to plod down the unbeaten path that trailed off into the wild unknown. But, like most challenges that arise in my life, I decided I wouldn’t back down. Ignoring the warning signs that my anxious consciousness displayed before me, I trudged on, forcing myself to take part in community events and joining clubs that I was initially hesitant to. I continued my passion for basketball and assimilated into the athletic community. I perused my academic passions and continued to challenge myself in school. I had finally adapted to my new home.

The soft patter of rain against my window brought me back to reality. I sighed, content with the life I had created for myself; however, the brewing storm outside reminded me that I was no longer in Idaho. And like driving on most of the streets in my Washington neighborhood, I encountered yet another rut in the road.

I had my summer of senior year all planned out. Everything was in place according to my compulsive behavior. But, instead of partaking in a trip to Canada with my friends. I was stuck packing my cumbersome belongings. Instead of conducting an extensive research project at a local University, I was busy loading up a 26-foot U-Haul. And instead of playing basketball with a team I had become very close to, I was forced to memorize new plays for a team much different from my previous one. Moving again felt like déjà vu being forced down my throat... and it was getting hard to breathe.

I could feel the strain of emotions pulsating through burning red cheeks, though I refused to admit it was there: refused to acknowledge the pain that had wriggled its way back into my life. But, in this moment I began to think. I thought long and hard about the experiences in my life: a lightbulb went off. Somewhere in the deep dark depths of my sorrow, this lightbulb shone down, luminating my shrouded conscious.

I became grateful for the diverse culture I had indulged into during my time in Hawaii: thankful for the values of family and good morals that I had created there. I was grateful for the adversity I faced, adjusting to new environments and experiencing the unknown. I was thankful for the relationships I’d built with the amazing people in each community: those who changed my mindset and taught me to not settle for the circumstances given to me, but to make the best of each opportunity. It helped me overcome the barriers of anxiety and self-consciousness that had created a turbulence in my mind.

And I was grateful for the opportunity to now apply these life-changing realizations to the next chapter of my life here at the academy.

I paused for a moment and grinned, thrilled to have finally thought of an idea. I sat up in my chair, opened my laptop, and began to type.

MORE INFORMATON ABOUT COLE