Skip Navigation Links

Cadet Blogs

A Look at the Semester

(Academics, Extracurricular and Faith-Based Involvement, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2023) Permanent link
Monty Rickey

The spring weather has finally arrived! This semester has been chaotic, to say the least. This year has definetly been challenging with school, a long winter, of course the pandemic, and constantly changing schedules. I am in Golf Company but moved to a Hotel triple for a month or two. This turned out to be one of the highlights of the semester, because I got to know two people I had not previously known and living in a triple is always fun. I also ended up getting contact traced for COVID and ended up in Munro for two weeks. Luckily, my friend that tested positive, my Munro roommate, and I all ended up healthy. I was moving during online school, so it was not too hard to keep up with everything. Although Hotel was nice, a few days ago, I moved back to Golf and it great to be home.

Other than moving multiple times in the last few months, school has also been crazy. I love being an ORCA major and am in a lot of major specific classes, compared to 4/c year. I think my favorite class is Mathematical Statistics because I specifically love the probability and statistics aspect of math. Next semester, I want to take an independent study and dive deeper into probability theory, so I am excited about that. We also take programming classes, specifically in Python, and learn about R Studio in terms of statistics, which is awesome. What I love about the ORCA major is that it gives us the opportunity to learn about several types and aspects of math that I didn’t know about. It also opens my eyes to how much math is in the world around us and truly integrated into everything we do.

Now that it is spring, the women’s water polo season has started. Because of COVID, though, we are not playing games or tournaments, like we would during a normal season. I love playing water polo because I’ve never done it before, and the team is awesome. I swam in high school, but water polo is so different, and I love learning about it.

A few days ago, the 4/c took their Boards, which is a cumulative oral test of all Coast Guard indoctrination knowledge they have been studying since Swab Summer. It was awesome to see all of them do exceptionally well and transition into becoming 3/c this summer and next year. I am excited to see the 4/c as 3/c and so see my class as 2/c. After watching Billet Night, I am so hyped to see my class grow throughout the next two years!


The Suspense of Waiting for Billet Night

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2021) Permanent link
Felicia Lombardi

Billet Night is one of the most highly anticipated events of firstie year, as it is the night when seniors find out where they will be assigned for their Ensign tour. I look forward to watching Billet Night every year because it is exciting and inspiring to see your friends, teammates, and mentors begin planning for the next phase of their lives. Although now that it is time for my Billet Night, the experience of waiting is completely different and full of all sorts of emotions.

Billet Night always happens on the Thursday before spring break, about halfway through your last semester at the Academy. For most of the year Billet Night has felt like nothing more than a distant thought because we have been so busy with capstone, command, and classes among other firstie obligations. However, now that it lies weeks away, the thought that we are graduating in only a few short months has become very real. I feel excited and ready to start the next chapter of my life, but I also can’t help but feel uncertain about what is to come. Where will I be? Who will be there with me? Will it be everything I have imagined? Where will my friends be? How do I live on my own? There are a lot of unanswered questions that I can’t even begin to process until Billet Night happens.

After a year of uncertainty due to the pandemic, I am really looking forward to finding some grounding. Although as we wait, rather than perseverating on what is to come, I have been trying my best to make the most of the time I have left here. This includes watching movies with my friends, late night trips to the cadet bookstore to buy some Ben and Jerry’s, playing badminton on the weekends, and prioritizing people and experiences ahead of planning for the future. This sounds a little counterintuitive if you think about it too hard, but the truth is, there is no point in stressing about the unknown that lies ahead when there is so much to be grateful for in the present. Billet Night will come, and it will be great, but I think I will enjoy it more if I have lots of fun memories building up to it.


My Winter Break and Looking Ahead

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2024) Permanent link
Isabel Jimenez

Hello again! It’s officially February here now, but I figured I’d write about what happened with me these last few months. So last year, with COVID and everything, we were sent home for Thanksgiving and it was decided that we were to do the last several weeks of school virtually. It worked out well! And actually, I stayed with my Sponsor Family for Thanksgiving, (as my family was busy so we couldn’t be together for Thanksgiving this year), but I did have a chance to head home for Christmas.

It was so wonderful to be back! I live in the great state of Wisconsin, so it was a little bit of a journey, but it was definitely worth it. Being away from your family for several months (5 months to be exact) makes you really appreciate what you’ve missed. For example, I absolutely love cats. I know not everyone is a fan, but back home I would cuddle-up with my cats when I did my homework. I didn’t realize how much I missed that! I also got to see all of my family again – and that includes my four younger siblings and parents. And while it was absolutely great to see them all again, it also made me realize how fast they’re growing (and how much my brothers have become teenage boys).

Anywho, we’re back in school now. This semester I’m taking I2C (Intro to Computing), Physics, Introduction to Navigation, and Calculus. Definitely none of my specialties. But that doesn’t matter as that is apparently what I’m supposed to be learning this semester. 😊 Classes are in full-swing, and I’m better-balancing out my schedule. Last semester, I was really just trying to figure out what needed to get done and when – this semester I’ve got a plan. Nothing fancy, but I’m better with understanding my time with all the military obligations & everything.

Lastly, it has been a little challenging lately since most of everything has been restricted because of COVID. And while not everything is what one might expect, it’s a blessing to go to a wonderful school with such amazing people! If you have any questions or just want to talk about Academy life, definitely reach out to me!!!


Happy New Year Everyone!

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Swab Summer, Class of 2024) Permanent link
Grace Sickendick

I wanted to take advantage of our downtime over MAP week to recap my first semester at the CGA. Coming out of Swab Summer, it took a while to adjust to becoming a 4/c. Being told what to do and when to do it was soon replaced with having to be responsible with your own schedule, knowing what to do and when to do it. Although the stress from yelling had disappeared, the new stressor of having a new independence soon appeared.

The first week was very confusing. I remember still being stuck in the habit of “securing for sea” with my backpack straps, keeping my shoelaces tied and hidden, and referring to myself as “Swab Sickendick.” Not to mention afterwards being terrified when Reveille sounded in the morning and rushing to put on my white socks, only to find that I did not need to secure myself to the bulkhead and could instead head to the wardroom to get a cup of coffee. I have found the cup of coffee is much needed now. The best part of being out of Swab Summer was getting to finally talk to the people I had spent over a month with and still hardly knew anything about. “Swab Buelt” and “Swab O’Brien” soon became “Annie” and “Dana.” Swab huddles to figure out how best to make our rack became Friday night movie night. Back home I would meet someone and then learn to trust them, but here I learned to rely and trust people before I even got to know them.

Getting into a routine during the schoolyear took a while to get used to, especially switching from high school classes to college classes. This past semester I was enrolled in Calc I, Chem I, Fundamentals of Navigation, I2C (Intro to Computing), GSO (Gender and Sexual Orientation), Swim I and Principles of Fitness I. I found my Nav class very interesting and enjoyed learning, and my I2C class the most challenging (the professor was an incredible teacher, I am just really bad with computers; in fact I had to have my grandma teach me how to use Facebook). I recommend taking GSO if you are interested in lots of class discussion and don’t mind discussing some difficult topics.

On top of my classes, I played snare for Windjammers (the Academy drum corps) and am so glad I joined. I met a lot of really cool people, had an AMAZING section, played some fun music, and even got to travel with the football team to Kings Point to play at our only game. I am hoping to get involved with more clubs over this next semester and into 3/c year. CGA also held IC (Inter-Company) sports over the fall semester, which turned out to be a blast. I decided to play ping pong (shoutout to the Golf ping pong team, we took home 2nd place), and am hoping that there will be a spring season.

I left to go home the day before Thanksgiving, and I’ll be honest, it was difficult to come back. I enjoyed being home with family and friends, but realized I was starting to miss the people here more than the people at home.

Thank you for reading! Again, please email me with any questions you might have -- [email protected] -- Enjoy the New Year!


Career Goals

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2021, Engineering) Permanent link
Stephanie Burckhard

Just shy of a year away from graduation. Only a few months away from putting in our billet list. I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do when I stepped foot on CGA nearly three years ago. It was not until I went to USAFA that I began to consider aviation as a career path. It was exhilarating flying the T-53A with several officers in the USAF. I heard great stories and high recommendations to consider aviation. Several mentors at CGA have encouraged me to look at the cutterman lifestyle as well. Currently, I am hoping to go underway my first tour then apply for flight school if I am still interested. If not, I hope to stay on the Law Enforcement side. This next year there will be plenty of time to visit and talk with my friends who are graduating this year about their ENS tour.

The Academy offers several opportunities for cadets to hear about career opportunities through Operations Spotlights (OPS Spotlight). Some that we had this semester included hearing from several Judge Advocate Generals (JAGs) in which they highlighted how important their role is in the fleet. OPS Spotlights are good opportunities for cadets to ask questions and listen to sea stories.

During cadre summer, for one week you are sent to a unit out in the fleet. The following one-week programs were offered for the Class of 2021 last summer:

  • Cadet Aviation Training Program (CATP)
  • Marine Safety Training Program (MSTP)
  • Naval Engineering Training Program (NETP)
  • Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT)

I opted for MSTP at Sector Boston. During this week, I ran into a few Ensigns that I knew from my 4/c year! They talked with us about their position at the Sector. We were also able to get a tour of Sector Boston and CGC Spencer. Some days, we were able to tag along on inspections since we were mostly there to see the Prevention side of the CG.

There is no rush to making a “dream sheet” or planning a set career path anytime soon. This is what 1/c summer is for- to help cadets decide when the time arrives.

I am excited to see where my career path will take me in a few years!

As always, reach out if you have any questions! My email is [email protected]



(Academics, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2023) Permanent link
Jane Alandydy

Due to the worldwide health concerns caused by COVID19, the Corps did not return to the Academy following spring break. After filling out countless accountability spreadsheets and reading an unending trail of emails, I was excited to be able to spend more time at home with my family. But it is very strange not going back to the Academy. As online classes begin, I have to learn how to manage my time all over again. It’s hard to stick to my routine when I can stay in my pajamas all day. But I’m not complaining 😊 Online classes are completely uncharted territory for me, but so far they are going well. They are very self-driven, so I rely on my organizational skills to keep track of all of my assignments.

So far classes are going well. I made a schedule for the week with the due dates for assignments and I’ve been able to get work done every day. I’m still doing a lot of schoolwork but instead of sitting through trainings in the mornings or going to lunch formation, I’m filling that time with hanging out with my sister or walking outside.

In the months that I’ve spent at the Academy, every day has felt so long. In one day, a cadet can get a ton of work done. Applying that same attitude of doing a lot every day, it’s been really fun to swap doing a lot of homework for doing tons of things I want to do. That being said, I’m still very excited to be able to go back and see all of my friends.


Why Civil Engineering?

(Academics, Class of 2021) Permanent link
Stephanie Burckhard

I originally entered the Academy determined to be a Mechanical Engineer. During my first semester at CGA is when I made my switch to Civil Engineering (CE). I had yet to take “Statics”- the class that most people use to consider what engineering major they want. My decision was based on two main factors; the “Majors Presentations” that all 4/c are required to attend and upperclass cadets. During those presentations, I found the Civil Engineering experiment to be suited to more of my interests. In Windjammers, one of the lead 1/c in drumline was also a Civil Engineer. I spoke with him often about why he picked the major and if he would recommend it. He highly recommended it and the one point he made that still holds true is the support you’ll get from the faculty. The CE Department is fantastic- they are very engaged in the curriculum and are always happy to help. They keep an upbeat attitude about CE and are excellent resources not only for homework help but for Coast Guard related questions as well.

I spent hours in the Civil Lounge this past semester working on homework and it was so nice to have the faculty next door ready to answer any questions. Not only is the faculty great, but also the cadets in the major. There are 20 CE cadets in the Class of 2021. It’s a great group and we work great as a team. Another point about CE is the CAPSTONE opportunities for 1/c. Most of these CAPSTONE projects involve direct work with the Coast Guard which some majors don’t have the same connection. I love how applicable CE is to the fleet and it feels as though CE cadets are making a real impact with these CAPSTONEs.

In the end, I highly recommend Civil Engineering. If you have any questions or concerns, send me an email at [email protected]


A Peek into the Operations Research Major

(Academics, Class of 2021) Permanent link
Katherine Doty

After being an Operations Research and Computer Analysis (ORCA) major for almost three years, you might think that I understand the true potential of the degree I am working towards by now. Or at least I thought I would. However, yet another surprise that I have encountered while at the Coast Guard Academy is how truly relevant, applicable, and just plain fun the ORCA major is!!!

While we started with prerequisites similar to other STEM majors, such as Calculus, we have since moved on to optimization and the use of technology to create mathematical applications to model human occurrences. From determining the best hot tubs to make from which materials in Linear Optimization, to analyzing queues in shopping malls in Probability Models, from creating programs to analyze a cadet’s performance on the Physical Fitness Examination (PFE) in Computer Modeling Languages, to determining the optimal time to shoot in a two person duel in Game Theory, ORCA majors are constantly learning skills to find the best solutions to problems.

Aside from the incredible staff in the Mathematics Department, my favorite aspect of the ORCA major is how applicable it is to life in general. We are introduced to logical thinking and how to calculate the risk vs. reward of our daily actions. While I may not have an OR-specific job immediately following graduation, I know that I can use the skills I am gaining in whatever position I fill in the Coast Guard and beyond.

As always, please feel free to contact me with questions!