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T-Boats on the Thames

(Choosing the Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Deborah King

This spring, we had our T-boat lab as a part of Navigation class. For those of you who don’t know, T-boats are older boats that we occasionally take on the Thames River to learn the basics of ship handling. During 2/c summer, we had a week devoted to them, and it was time to use them again during the school year.

To be honest, I expected it to be a rough week. Academically, spring semester was one of the toughest I’ve had, even including 4/c year. Midterms were right around the corner and it felt like I wasn’t keeping up.

Going out on the water changed that. The day was perfect. The warm weather and sun cheered me up. However, the best part was actually driving the boats and giving commands. We did some basic maneuvers including man overboard drills. While we were still learning and we made a lot of mistakes, it made me realize just how much I love being on the water, and why this experience was worth the time and effort.

Very Respectfully,
2/c Deborah King



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Jill Friedman

I’m almost ¾ of the way done with my second class year and I’m trying to coordinate my first class summer to figure out exactly what I want to do when I graduate. With all the planning for the future, I decided to do a little reflecting on where I am now.

I thought about my decision to come to the Academy and I’ll admit it’s frustrating missing out on the ‘normal’ college experience. I talk with my friends who are at civilian schools about their life and it sounds nice. They tell me about being able to sleep in, leave campus whenever they want, wear what they want to class, not have the added military obligations, etc.

Then I went to New Orleans for a diversity and leadership conference. I reflected on how much the community went through after Hurricane Katrina hit and the role the Coast Guard played in helping the people of Louisiana. I talked to Coasties who spent months in New Orleans responding to Deep Water Horizon and the impact they had on the maritime community in the Gulf of Mexico. I thought of everything the Coast Guard has done and continues to do in response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

No, the Academy is not a ‘normal’ college, honestly it can be difficult at times, but for me, knowing that I’ll be able to make a positive impact on the world makes it worth it.

If you have any questions feel free to email me at


My Turning Point

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Courtney Gilliam

The Coast Guard Academy’s Academy Introduction Mission or AIM program provided me with clarity – it was my turning point. There are some people who have known they have wanted to come to the Coast Guard Academy since they were little, others who have a personal family connection or experience with the Coast Guard, or some who have just always known the military was the life for them. I was not one of those people. Going into my senior year of high school, I still had no idea where I wanted to go, and the military was nowhere on my radar. I applied to a lot of regular colleges in state and out of state and I struggled over pro and con lists trying to figure out where I fit. But then that all changed when my guidance counselor told my family about the Coast Guard Academy and its many opportunities, which I immediately said “no” to. To be honest, growing up in Georgia I had personally never really heard much about the Coast Guard or its mission and I just assumed it wasn’t for me. But looking back, thankfully, that was not the end of the story. Begrudgingly, I agreed to give it a chance and explore all my options, so I applied for the AIM program and got in, which made me more nervous than happy because I had no idea what to expect but prepared to hate every minute of it. But life is funny like that sometimes and, when you least expect it, an experience can end up surprising you and putting you on a path you never could have imagined.

The first couple of days of AIM involved a lot of instruction and screaming, we ran everywhere, and I remember thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?” But I also remember a lot of laughter and a feeling of unity and family with people I had only just met; together we were all a little lost just trying to figure it out and help one another. We became a team. The people I met during AIM I remain friends with even today, whether they came to the Academy or not. I can still tell you the names of every single one of my cadre from AIM. That week I left feeling accomplished and surprised – a rush of confusion overtook me because I never expected to enjoy myself that much and it wasn’t a part of the plan in my head. But I came home unable to deny that it was the first college visit I had made where I felt at home and that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I waited to feel that way again with the other colleges I visited, but nothing. It was then that I decided to apply to the Academy; it was the only service academy I applied to and it changed my life. AIM was my turning point, it gave me a moment of clarity, a feeling of pride and satisfaction, and if you are like me who was very much on the fence, or even if you’re not, I highly recommend applying for the AIM program – it could make all the difference.


Back to School and Billet List

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Cece Hosley

Well, here we are back at school for my very last semester at the CGA! I really can’t believe it; my time here feels like it has gone by so fast and yet I have seen and accomplished so many things! The most exciting part about this semester thus far was putting in my billet list, also called a dream sheet. This is a list of all of the places and platforms (or different types of vessels/boats/jobs) that you are interested in applying to for your first tour. The initial step is to look at the shopping list. This is a published list of all the jobs in the Coast Guard that are available for the newly graduating ensigns (like me!!). Once this list is published we get to go through the options and make our own list, in preferential order, based on what we would like to do our first tour.

For me personally, creating my list was a lot of fun but I had to make a lot of tough decisions. I was born and raised right here in New England, but throughout my time at the Academy, I have had some incredible and unique opportunities to travel and through those experiences I was able to make my list. I have traveled to, and seen more of this world and more of our beautiful country in the last four years than I ever even imagined for my entire life! Anyway, I used those wonderful experiences to craft my list. My first choice is Seattle, Washington on the Coast Guard’s polar icebreakers! Second on my list is the black hull or buoy tending vessels in District’s 17 and 14 (that’s Alaska and Hawaii, pretty far from home for me)! I know that no matter what I end up getting it will be quite the adventure. I am so excited to find out and I can hardly wait. Stay tuned for my March blog because I will know on March 8th, our Billet Night, which will be live-streamed this year!

Aside from the excitement of billets, life at the Academy is pretty much back to normal. This semester I have my very own division consisting of cadets from each class. We are in charge of the common rooms in our company and regimental recycling. All of the members of my division are outstanding cadets and I am so beyond excited to be able to work closely with them this semester to improve the recycling program at the Academy. So, that is what is going on now here at school, but be sure to check back in after Billet Night!


Equestrian Club

(Extracurricular and Faith-Based Involvement, Just for Fun, Class of 2018) Permanent link

One of my favorite activities to be involved in here at the Academy is the Equestrian Club. Through the Equestrian Club, cadets here are able to take part in all kinds of equestrian-related activities from trail rides to horse shows.

I have been riding horses ever since I was about 6 years old. During my first years here at the Academy, I was always so busy with classes and military obligations but I was able to get out a few times to the barn to see the horses and even go on a trail ride through the woods. However, now that my schedule has lightened up a bit as a first class cadet, I have had much more time and opportunities to go horseback riding. Through the Equestrian Club, I am able to ride at Mystic Valley Hunt Club in Ledyard, Connecticut just ten or so minutes from the Academy. Mystic Valley has a beautiful barn with lots of all different kinds of horses. My instructor at the Hunt Club, Richard, is a fabulous teacher as well. It is so nice to be able to get away from the stress of the Academy for a bit and get to spend time with the horses. Riding is also a great way to get your exercise as well!

Over the winter, I was given the opportunity to lease one of the horses at the barn and I fell in love. Her name is Merry Melody and she is one of the sweetest horses I have ever met. Over winter leave and into this semester I have been so fortunate to be able to ride her almost every day and to take lessons once a week as well. I have seen a huge improvement in my riding and the strength of my legs too. We have been doing a lot of great flat work and even some jumping, too! We are so lucky here at the Academy to have so many wonderful opportunities such as going horseback riding! If anyone has any questions about the clubs here at the Academy or the Equestrian Club, please don’t hesitate to email me.


Whale That Was Fun! An Admissions Trip to Sitka, Alaska

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link

Well, here I am back at the Coast Guard Academy after an amazing weekend in (you’ll never guess it) SITKA, ALASKA!! How lucky am I, right?! Well, as some of you may know I had an internship this summer through the Marine Sciences department at the Sitka Sound Science Center in Sitka, Alaska, which is one of the most beautiful places on earth in my opinion and naturally I wanted to go back. Lucky for me, our internship invited us back to Sitka for a weekend in November for the annual Whale Festival, or Whalefest. Whalefest is a four-day event full of research symposium presentations, scientific talks, a film night, wildlife tours, concerts, and much more! Of course we simply had to go, but we weren’t sure how we would get the funding so I did a little bit of research. As fate may have it, on the Friday before Whalefest weekend, the University of Alaska Southeast, along with the Science Center, was hosting the National Ocean Science Bowl competition right there in Sitka. This is a competition where high schoolers from all over the state (even the country) come to compete in a trivia style competition with questions solely focused on our ocean environment. I saw this as the perfect opportunity to do a little recruiting so I talked to Admissions and pitched my idea and BAM! It worked, we were going back to Alaska!!

I know it seems crazy to fly all the way across the country for the weekend, but it was definitely worth it. We arrived Thursday night just in time to have dinner with all our friends from Sitka. Then, Friday we volunteered at the Science Bowl competition all day! I was wearing my favorite Coast Guard Academy lacrosse shirt (had to represent!) and talking to the high school students about the Academy every chance I got! After that, we got to attend some of the scientific talks and experience Whalefest, which was a blast! On Saturday morning, we donned our very professional Service Dress Blue uniforms and gave an hour long presentation to the community and the high schoolers from the Ocean Bowl about the Academy and the admissions process. Our presentation was a huge success and people were asking lots of great questions (they also loved the Bears backpacks, brochures, and pens we handed out as well). After the presentation we explored the festival some more and soaked up the beautiful (rare) sunshine that was shining down on Sitka that weekend. On Sunday, I went out in a little skiff with some friends and got to see the humpback whales bubble net feeding and breaching out of the water! It was absolutely incredible (and a tiny bit scary) to see these massive and majestic animals so close to us! Overall, the weekend was absolutely amazing and I am beyond lucky to have had the opportunity to go. I will never be able to thank the Coast Guard enough for the opportunities it has given me to learn, travel, explore and experience the world.


Back to School and After-School Activities

(Athletics, Extracurricular and Faith-Based Involvement, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2018) Permanent link

I can’t believe this is my first blog back at school for my last year at the Academy! It’s crazy how time flies! So here we are back at school for another exciting and challenging year at the CGA. I had heard that some people were interested in some of my other extracurricular activities here at school (which are a blast!), so here is a little bit about what the CGA has to offer outside of everyday cadet life.

This semester, I happen to be the Executive Officer of Golf Company. It is an honor to be in charge (along with my Company Commander) of leading and guiding a company of 124 other cadets. On top of being XO, I am also captain of the varsity women’s lacrosse team. As a lacrosse player and a captain, I am very busy organizing team events, practices, and team bonding time. As a varsity athlete much of my time is spent at practice every afternoon and at away games on the weekends. Some of our games are around two hours away but the time spent with my team on the bus is priceless. It is an amazing and humbling opportunity to be able to test out my leadership skills while playing the sport that I love.

When I’m not playing lacrosse or working on company logistics, you can find me at Yoga Club, Women’s Leadership Council, with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization (FCA), or Asian Pacific American Council (APAC). I know it probably seems like it is impossible for me to do all of these things, and sometimes it seems like it is, but the beauty of being here at the CGA is that everyone understands the limits on our time and thus clubs are very flexible with scheduled events (unlike varsity sports obligations which are mandatory). When the clubs are hosting big events, club members can sign up to attend if their schedule allows. For Yoga Club, we have the unique opportunity to travel off-base to Mystic Yoga Shala for hot yoga once a week. If I’m too busy with homework I’ll skip out on yoga, but otherwise the classes are a great stress reliever and a hard workout. For Women’s Leadership Council, we do a mentoring program and have other fun events that I choose to attend based on whether or not my schedule allows. FCA is great also because we have lunch excusals every couple of weeks, so it doesn’t take any time out of my day, but instead I get to eat lunch with my fellow classmates and athletes. It is a great time to relax, reflect, and discuss our faith. Lastly, being a part of APAC is really fun as well! The council usually does big events with delicious food, like Dim Sum Sundays at a local restaurant. Overall, the Academy has a ton of unique and fun extracurricular activities to offer and I only do just a few. If you have any other specific questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!


A Summer Blog from the Last Frontier

(Just for Fun, Class of 2018, Marine and Environmental Sciences) Permanent link

Greetings from Sitka, Alaska, the most beautiful (and rainiest) place on Earth! I know it’s been a little while since my last blog, but this summer has been a whirlwind of exciting travel and new experiences. This past spring I arrived to my first unit, the great Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Munro in Kodiak, Alaska. Kodiak was very cold, very rugged, and very beautiful. Life on the cutter was a unique and interesting experience. The cutter is a 378 foot high endurance cutter that patrols the Bearing Sea and over to Japan. While on board we got to live the junior officer life, helping out with the cutter’s Change of Command ceremony, morale events, preparations to get underway, and much, much more.

After Kodiak, I flew to southeast Alaska to a tiny island town called Sitka for the second half of my summer program. Here in Sitka, I live at the Coast Guard Air Station and work at the Sitka Sound Science Center through an internship provided to me through my major at the Academy (Marine and Environmental Sciences). At the Science Center, myself and the other Academy intern, are working on various research projects, while getting involved in the local community and volunteering at other center’s camps and events. Our time here in Sitka so far has been a blast! Our primary research here has been conducting shellfish surveys for the local tribe in an area crucial for subsistence clamming. We are very excited to be wrapping up this work and have put together a wonderful presentation on the Academy and our time here in Sitka, as well as the results from our surveys and the rest of our research to present to the community tonight at the public library.

I have gone hiking, kayaking, fishing, paddle boarding, sightseeing, and much more during my time here at the internship. I have seen the most beautiful mountains, sunsets, and wildlife such as eagles, bears and whales! Alaska is such an incredible and amazing place (with the best fresh fish available anywhere) and I would highly recommend visiting! If you are at all interested in the Science Center or the internship you can find us online on Facebook, Instagram or at our website: :)