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When Hard Work Doesn’t Work

(Academics, Athletics, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2021) Permanent link
Felicia Lombardi

Score a goal. Swim a best time. Get an A. Hit a target. These are all goals that have been defined for me growing up. For that reason, my understanding of the relationship between hard work and success has always been straightforward. If I work hard and meet all the goals, then I will be successful. After all, this method has worked for me before. In applying to the Academy, I made good grades, got good test scores, hit the community service requirement, scored enough goals, and swam fast enough. Moreover, upon reflection, doing all those things was hard, and I got appointed, which was an accomplishment, so it only made sense that I had the key to success in my hands. However, after a long and trying first year at the Academy, I found that my so-called “key to success” was not universal. On the contrary, my mindset regarding hard work and success was only good enough to keep me out of trouble, and there is a big difference between meeting expectations and being successful.

Evaluations are an essential part of any school, but especially at a military academy like the USCGA. They can be subjective and occasionally fail to reflect true merit; nevertheless, they serve an essential role in developing how personal progress and success are perceived. In soccer, strikers are evaluated by scoring statistics. In swimming, sprinters are evaluated by how fast they go, relative to both their personal bests and other swimmers. In academics, students are evaluated by GPAs and exam averages. Militarily, our fitness is evaluated by the PFE, and our cadet performance is evaluated by a Cadet Evaluation Report or CER. All these evaluations have targets, or standards of excellence. The best students are on the honor roll with a GPA of 3.5 or higher. The fittest athletes score a 270 or higher out of 300 on their PFE. The highest performing cadets have a silver star. These targets are always good to strive for, but for too long I let them define my every action, and in doing so I lost touch with my goals, and my desires.

My freshman year, I wanted to help my teams by scoring the most goals and swimming the fastest times. I wanted to memorize as much as possible, so I could pass my tests. I volunteered for an array of service events and leadership roles to boost my CER. I exercised every day to score high on the PFE. I did everything I possibly could to hit all the targets, and much to my disappointment, at the end of my first year I had fallen just short of nearly every target. It is mentally and physically exasperating when hard work doesn’t work, and the worst part was, I had no reason to complain about anything. I was successful last year, by many standards. Why wasn’t I happy?

Success is relative. That’s it. This long monologue of mundane storytelling cumulates into one epiphany I had after another goal-less soccer game this season. I can’t score because I was not playing for the love of the game. I was playing to score. Targets are a great guide, but as soon as I stopped aiming for them, I started hitting my mark. Lesson learned: do not let anybody set standards for you; set your own standards and then exceed them. My new approach this school year is to see how far my arrow will go, not how many targets I can hit along the way. It is still the beginning of my experiment, but the results look promising. Apparently, having fun gets things done.

I apologize for only talking minimally about the actual Academy in this post. With that being said, I feel like the opportunities for personal growth and achievement are an important part of the Academy. I can wholeheartedly say that I would not be having as much fun under as much stress if I did not attend a school with such a remarkable balance between rigor and support. If you have any questions, feel free to reach me at Felicia.M.Lombardi@uscga.edu!

MORE ABOUT FELICIA

Opening a Window

(Choosing the Academy, Class of 2022) Permanent link
Ryan Taylor

Every one of the past 17 years, a new window has been opened to me, now with a remarkable view of the life of a cadet at the Coast Guard Academy. Having grown up locally, my family hosted new sponsor cadets every year. Talking with them about the experiences, challenges, and opportunities presented by the Academy painted a clear picture of the life of a cadet. This experience gave me a fantastic feel for what to expect, making my decision to attend much easier.

My goal as a blogger for the Academy is to give perspective students and their families the same glimpse into life at the Academy that I was afforded. While it is impossible to speak with each person individually, blogging is a way to share my experiences with them. Additionally, the opportunity to provide applicants or those interested in the Academy with my contact information makes me excited to communicate one-on-one with those hoping to learn more.

Lastly, throughout my time in middle and high school my family traveled during the summer and would keep a blog of our escapades. We took turns writing one entry a day and posting it with photos so that close friends and family could follow along. I was delighted when it was my turn to write and relished the opportunity to craft words in a way that accurately represented my experiences and emotions. Being a cadet blogger would allow me to continue my love of blogging with the added challenges of a broader audience and representation of the Academy.

MORE ABOUT RYAN

The Itch for Something Different

(Choosing the Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2022) Permanent link
Ryan Hurst

Back in high school, I had an itch to do something different from all my classmates after graduating. I did not know what it was, but I decided to explore unique and exciting options. One of the options I was exploring was the Coast Guard Academy. Eventually, after searching the web, I was able to find ample information on the Academy, especially on the cadet blog pages. I decided The Academy was where I wanted to go.

I applied early to the Academy and was devastated when I got wait-listed. I knew it meant more impatient waiting. After not hearing much over the next few months, I assumed it was the end of the road; that I would not get into the Academy. I came to accept it and was actually excited to attend the University of Tennessee with all my high school friends. Ironically, I received my appointment while at University of Tennessee orientation. I had to decide on the spot, and I chose the Academy in a heartbeat. It was not easy to tell my friends that I was leaving them, and in the back of my mind I had my doubts. My road to the Academy certainly was not an easy one to traverse, nor very clear cut, but in the end, I made it.

MORE ABOUT RYAN

Why Blog?

(Choosing the Academy, Just for Fun, Class of 2022) Permanent link
Merrill Cline

I love writing. Maybe not so much formal writing for class, but fun informal stories where I can just put down what I’m thinking. Writing makes me feel better, whether I’m just trying to organize what I need to get done, or maybe writing about when I have a bad day. I started keeping a weekly journal during Swab Summer and will continue to write in it for probably a long time. I highly recommend doing this at the Academy, it definitely helps you feel more positive and it’s really cool to look back at how you were feeling in that moment in time. I know that it gets kind of difficult to find detailed information about what Academy life is like, but this is the best place to find the raw, uncut stories about everyday life, what to expect, and what to look out for.

When I was in high school, I wanted to come here more than anything in the world, and now that I’m here, I really hope I can be of assistance those of you who are just like I was. If you have a mission to come here and become an officer in the United States Coast Guard one day, keep working hard and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. Find out what drives you to succeed and never forget it, let it motivate you to give your all at everything you do. If you always remember what inspires you, then you will not fail. By writing these blogs, I hope I can help you find some more inspiration and things to look forward to here at the Coast Guard Academy. I’m super excited to keep writing to all of you and I hope you stay tuned for more entries in the future. Thanks for reading!

MORE ABOUT MERRILL

My Academy Story Begins Here

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2022) Permanent link
Jack Brunswick

I started a personal blog in high school and have kept a personal journal for five years, which I utilize to track my goals and explore my personal thoughts to explore and better myself as a person and leader. More importantly, our own thoughts and actions are meaningless unless they can be shared with others, so I hope to utilize my blog posts to reach readers in a positive manner regarding the readers’ understanding of the Coast Guard Academy and the Academy’s reputation.

I believe I understand people well and can reach out to them efficiently through writing. I enjoy topics involving philosophy, productivity, and psychology. My goal as a cadet blogger is to provide insightful, enjoyable reads for viewers and to hopefully grow the Coast Guard Academy’s blogging audience. As a cadet blogger I will provide an accurate, yet unique perspective on academy life for you, the reader. As a basketball player and track runner I will provide unique voice for student-athletes and how they manage academy life. I want my posts to be personal and relatable so readers can have a clear idea on what the Academy is like.

I look forward to bettering myself as a writer and serving a greater purpose in the Cadet Blog Club by bringing a positive light on the Coast Guard Academy. My goal is for my readers to understand the reality of academy life ─ good and bad. I take pride in my writing and hope that viewers take pride in the Academy and appreciate it after reading my posts. This is my story and I hope to take you along for the adventure.

MORE ABOUT JACK

My First Impression of the USCGA

(Choosing the Academy, Class of 2022) Permanent link
Greg Costello

My time here at the Academy has already gone by so fast. I am months in and it feels like I started just yesterday. Actually, it feels more like it was just yesterday when I sat down at my computer at home and started looking for more information about the USCGA and found myself reading blogs upon blogs discussing all the amazing components of cadet life. I read stories about clubs and the outreach they do, the unique summer experiences cadet’s have, and the types of bonds formed here between “shipmates.” The more I read, the more intrigued I became. Being here is a dream come true and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You are challenged to be the best version of who you are, and you learn more about yourself than you ever have before. All the stories I read about this place and what it had to offer provided an almost unreal glimpse into how life actually was. The writers did not seem to water down any of their descriptions of the most challenging aspects of being here, instead wrote from an honest and fair point of view, which was refreshing. I wanted to be a blogger because I want to inspire the next group of future Coast Guard leaders to take that next step and apply to the Academy. I feel as if there is no better way to connect to the potential students who are looking at this fine institution than to talk about my experiences, what I love, and what I am challenged by.

The cadet blogs provided me with my first real impression of what it was like to be a cadet and I am super thankful for the openness of how they were written. I did not get into AIM so I based a lot of my information on this place from what I read from first person sources. The blogs touched on a wide array of topics and answered a ton of questions I had, but I still think there is room to improve and that is another reason I want to be a blogger. Cadets could create their blogs while incorporating other sources of multimedia potentially. This way, the readers can have a better view of the Academy that isn’t just purely in words. Collaboration between bloggers to diversify their topics also could improve the final product.

MORE ABOUT GREG

Why Blogging is Important to Me

(Choosing the Academy, Class of 2022) Permanent link
Liz Feldman-DeMello

I have never been the type of person who volunteered to participate in writing or putting together the school paper. This will be a new experience for me. I remember when I was in high school looking at the Academy as a possible choice, I read through a lot of the cadet blogs. I thought it helped me to see the Academy from a new perspective. I had a pretty good understanding of the admissions statistics and how I would fair academically according to my high school GPA and SAT/ACT scores, but the cadet blog gave me a glimpse into how it would be on a more emotional and personal level.

I hope to have the same effect on other high school students hoping to come here. I think it is also important to have a 4/c cadet share some thoughts on the Academy because it is so different from the other classes. The Coast Guard Academy is not for everyone; and I think it is important to have as much information as possible so incoming students can make a well-thought-out decision of whether or not the Academy is a good fit for them.

MORE ABOUT LIZ

Reading the Blogs to Learn About the Academy

(Choosing the Academy, Class of 2022) Permanent link
Elizabeth Carter

If you had asked me months ago what I thought I would be doing now, I would probably say that I had no clue. It feels like years ago ─ receiving my appointment and graduating from high school. At that point, I was laser focused on one thing and one thing only: Swab Summer. The word “nervous” does not seem to encompass the emotions going through my head that fateful morning of Day One. I was excited, anxious, hopeful, and scared. I can remember waking up that morning, knowing that my life would forever be changed. After those long seven weeks, I knew that I wanted to try and provide others with a taste of Academy life, especially those considering applying and coming here.

As a prospective cadet, I would read these blogs to try and understand what Academy life is like. I hope that I can help others with my blogs, to ensure that they are making a well-informed decision before coming here. One thing that became increasingly apparent during Swab Summer is that the Academy requires a huge commitment of yourself ─ physically, mentally, and even emotionally. I urge the readers of my blog to research the Coast Guard, to reach out to cadets with questions, and to learn as much as possible. I hope to provide blogs that give a glimpse of the joys of Academy life, and pass along information that only someone living through the experience can describe.

MORE ABOUT ELIZABETH