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Resilience Over Perfection

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2025) Permanent link
Mia Martinelli

As we are getting into the final weeks of classes and exams, it is nice to reflect on my Thanksgiving break. That was the first time I have been able to go home since S-day! It is crazy to think that I have been here for 6 months. I went home to a full house of my parents, my four older sisters, and their super cute pets. We played board games, went to yoga classes, walked on the bridge, watched movies, and baked and decorated cookies. It was so relaxing and rejuvenating. We laughed till our faces hurt. My oldest sister bought everyone matching Christmas pajamas that I am looking forward to wearing again soon. With all this great stuff over break, it feels difficult to be back at the Academy. But I definitely feel a newfound appreciation for traveling, oddly. I used to find it stressful to travel alone but last week I was nothing but relaxed and happy… even on my way back. I think that is coming from a place of confidence and independence that I have gained from being here the last half of a year.

Overall, I am happy with how my grades are turning out as I prepare for exams. Yes, the added challenge of the Academy makes classes harder than high school (in my experience), but I also feel even prouder of my work here. Initially it was difficult for me to not be disappointed in the grades that I was getting compared to my high school grades, but I realized that I am truly doing the best that I can. I have found it is much better for my mental health to measure my effort over the result. I think that this encourages me to work on resilience instead of perfection. See you in the new year!

MORE ABOUT MIA

Return to School

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2025) Permanent link
Mia Martinelli

Right now I am about four weeks into school and I’m still trying to find that smooth rhythm that everyone talks about! I have taken my first two exams and I have a few more just around the corner. The academics here are extremely different from my high school experience. There is a lot more responsibility and independence put on each cadet. I have already found planning and organization to be so important when it comes to school, military obligations, clubs, sports and councils!

I feel really excited to continue to meet and get to know cadets, professors, company officers/chiefs, etc. I signed up for a Coast Guard mentorship program, and foxtrot company also has its own mentorship initiative. I am hopeful that I can connect with people that I can continue to learn from and build relationships with.

I am practically counting down the days until Parents Weekend! My parents and two of my siblings are getting here on Friday. I am not entirely sure of the schedule, but I know I will be excused from lunch in the wardroom to eat with them on the lower field on Friday. I believe the swim team families are planning to meet up as well. Besides that, it will be nice to catch up and hangout with them off base.

Right after Parents Weekend, we start the first official swim team practice! I just can’t wait to get back in the water. I haven’t been competitively swimming normally for about 2 years now, because of a car accident and injury recovery, as well as restrictions due to the pandemic. It is so nice to have a new team and coach. We have been doing pre-season strength training 3 times a week, which I really enjoy.

This weekend was the first homecoming weekend. It is cool to see how this one place can bring together so many amazing people. My oldest sister (class of 2010) was here for her delayed homecoming and induction into the Hall of Fame for her achievements in Basketball. I couldn’t be prouder of her.

On Friday, the corps got a long, which basically means overnight liberty. Although there wasn’t really notice ahead of time, so like a lot of the 4/c, I didn’t really coordinate with anyone to take me anywhere, which means it has been a weekend of watching athletic teams, homework, and hanging out with friends. I don’t mind though, sometimes it is nice to just do nothing after a long week.

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Swab Summer & School Survival

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Swab Summer, Class of 2025) Permanent link
Emma Deery

So, you’re considering attending the United States Coast Guard Academy. Step one? Swab Summer.

For the sake of you and I both, I won’t get too in-depth about those 8 weeks. I highly recommend checking out other cadets’ blogs (specifically Junna Castel’s- that’s what I read in preparation for my Swab Summer!) Another great resource is Erin Edwards on YouTube.

The biggest advice I can give anyone is to start your prep early. Physical fitness is no joke during Swab Summer; you’ll be running back and forth all day, and even if your day isn’t as physically intense as most, you’ll still be on your feet from 0530 to 2200. If you have never visited campus before, I have one word for you: hills. To save yourself (and your shins) any extra aches and pains, I recommend hopping on a treadmill and doing some cardio at an incline. Nothing crazy long or high, but enough to get your body adjusted if you only ever run on flat surfaces.

If you’re traveling far from home, you likely won’t be home until Thanksgiving or even Winter Break. Those 8 weeks with little to no contact can make you real homesick. Spend as much time with family and friends as possible, give your pets some extra love and attention, maybe even keep something with you to remind you of home.

One topic that was widely debated among my class before S-Day was whether you should study indoc before arrival. If you want to be a step ahead for Day 01, have the mission down by heart, but other than that, save the Running Light for your Swab Summer experience. The entire point of Swab Summer is to stress you out to see how you will react under pressure. Reporting in with every single word memorized verbatim will do nothing but hurt you: if the cadre figure it out, they’ll make you memorize something entirely different.

On August 14th, we were finally finished. Believe me when I say that the days are long, but the weeks fly by. As enthusiastic as we were to complete Swab Summer, you never truly notice how much structure it gave you until you have barely any at all. Going from having every minute of your day specifically blocked out to the freedom of your first year in college was quite an adjustment. Keep in mind that as a cadet, you won’t have nearly as much free time as your civilian friends. Military training, sports practice, and academics will quickly fill your schedule, leaving you to scramble for what little time you have and figure out how to best utilize it. Time management plays a major role in your success: as a cadet, as an officer, and even within your life outside of the Coast Guard.

Classes are going well so far: as a 4/c you mainly start with general education classes like Calc I and Chem I. Once you get to your 3/c year, classes get more major-specific. I’ve gotten better at managing my time, but there is always room for improvement.

Thank you for reading, and if you have any questions or want to know more about how my summer was feel free to reach out!

MORE ABOUT EMMA

A Whirlwind Semester Worth My While

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

Hey y’all, how’s it going??? There’s been a handful of crazy events since I’ve stopped to catch my breath. It felt like just the other day I sat down to start the school year, and now we’ve just passed midterms. Ahhh!

Anywho, it’s been a crazy few months. I went on leave for a few weeks before I came back for the school year, and that was amazing!! I got to catch up with my family, friends, and take a break from the rush of Academy life. I went camping with my family and somehow we ended up with a bunny – definitely ask me about it because it’s quite a story. I also FaceTimed a few friends back the Academy while I was at home – and that was exciting simply because you begin to realize the good friends that you’ve made in the short time at the Academy.

I got back to school and was definitely kind of nervous to start the school year, but it ended up alright. I believe that I’ve mentioned this before, but I am now currently a Government major. I absolutely love it, so much better than a STEM major for me. While some may say that it’s easier, it’s definitely harder in certain aspects. I really love philosophy & theology, so I’ve enjoyed learning about ethics within the government major because it’s a topic I find interesting.

This semester has definitely been a handful though, I am Vice President of blog club along with being the Community Service Officer for St. Francis De Sales society. It’s been a blast, but a lot of work behind the scenes. Coordinating events, organizing memos (memorandums), and running around takes a lot out of you. But it’s definitely worth my while; even after I get exhausted from a long day. I’m excited to see what the future holds for me, but until then, I’ll be here to share a story or two about my Academy experience.

I am always down to answer any questions, so feel free to reach out @ [email protected]. Until next time, I’m off to sail the adventurous seas!!!

MORE ABOUT ISABEL

Summer Snapshot

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

And so here we are, the end of summer. 😊 I can say that it’s been a wild ride. As for the end of 4/c semester, I did end up passing all my classes. Which to some, that’s not a big deal. But for ME, I was quite surprised and very much enthralled at how the grades turned out. Needless to say, I did learn a few things…

One, try not to overdo your commitments. I learned that the hard way. I love to help, but sometimes I do spread myself too thin. While it kind of worked out in high school, it led to a much more stressful semester. Second, it’s okay not to have everything figured out. While that’s the mindset you might come in with, just realize that many aspects in your life change. Friends, family, and just your environment. That’s when you learn to let go of what you cannot control.

As for my summer, this is how it rolled. The first half of the summer I was on Eagle. As soon as I finished my finals, I got on to “America’s Tall Ship” and sailed across the ocean. The first two weeks we learned many skills including how to handle lines, stay on watch, and complete qualifications. While not all of it was ideal, I have certainly learned much. Our first stop was in Azores, Portugal. I loved going into the churches because of the beautiful artwork – and the town had amazing gelato. Hands-down; it was so good. I may never taste that exact same gelato again, but I will forever remember it. (Insert two more weeks of sea-going time here.) Our second stop was in Reykjavik, Iceland. While I didn’t quite get to explore as much as I hoped, I got to take some pictures of the volcano on the tour bus on our way to the planes. We took an international flight home, and that was it for that adventure.

As for the second half of the summer, I took summer school. While a lot of people try to advert from summer school, it all depends on the person. I struggle in school, so I am not going to lie – I did also struggle in summer school. But I can say, you do get a lot more focused attention during the summer, and a lot more personalized help in the classes. I took Engineering Mechanics – Statics & Calc II, and I did pass both classes. Although…during the process I did change my major to Government for a good handful of reasons. And while I would love to share all the reasons, I’m going to save that for another story…

So here we are. I got to go home after the whole ordeal and spent a few weeks with family – I loved it. I’ll be heading back to USCGA as a 3/c; with more responsibility & a handful of excitement. We’ll see how the school year turns out, but I’m sure it will turn out as God Wills it. Until I reach out again, off to the next salty sailors’ tale!!!

Feel free to reach out with any questions @ [email protected]. I’m always happy to share an adventure. 😊

MORE INFORMATON ABOUT ISABEL

Hurricanes and Ambulances

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2024) Permanent link
Cheyenne Waters

Now this is not your typical worst first day of school that involves mean kids, strict teachers, and funny mishaps. This is quite extreme when it comes to college experiences.

So, the week started off with a hurricane. The hurricane barreled into New London on Sunday which, of course, cut our weekend short and locked the cadets up in Chase Hall. Believe it or not, the hurricane was one of the best parts of the week. Even though I was stuck in Chase, I found ways to keep myself busy by preparing for school and creating study tools and sessions for the 4/c.

Tuesday was the first day of classes. I woke up early on Tuesday excited to start school and especially excited for my oceans lab where I would be studying meteorology. I get an email advertising for a blood drive later that day. I sign up on a whim thinking I had a free period, it was a nice thing to do, and, if I am being honest, it was also a good bullet. So, my first class went great, and my spirits were high as I headed to Leamy to give blood. I had never donated blood, but I had my blood drawn loads of times, and I was not fazed by needles or blood. Therefore, I walked into Leamy thinking it would be no big deal. I was very wrong. I got there at 11:00 and waited for about an hour. I figured I would miss lunch, but I had a good breakfast, and I was drinking my water while waiting. Plus, all the times I had my blood drawn I was just fine after a cookie and some juice.

I finally get to the table, feeling slightly nervous but ready to finish and get to class. They stick me, which was not that bad, then the blood starts flowing. The machines beeps were the first sign something was wrong. The blood sucker machine kept saying my blood was moving really slow. So, they give me something to roll in my hand and it flowed a little faster. However, it still ends up taking forever to make a pint. Almost four time longer than usual!

At this point, I really want to get to lab. The whole process had taken way longer than I thought it would. So, I quickly stuff some food in my bag and start off to class. I don’t make it very far before my head spins and my vision blurs. I walk back to the Red Cross people, and they have me lie down. Now I did not actually pass out. I just got very close. I hazily emailed my teacher to tell her where I was. I tried to sit up, but I felt so dizzy that they made me lay back down. Finally, the head Red Cross lady said she was going to call Nine-One-One. Now, I start to panic in earnest. I felt terrible, but I thought an ambulance was a bit dramatic. I really just wanted to go to the clinic. I also wanted to sit up because my panic was making my breath tight. Someone from the clinic arrives, but they call the ambulance anyway.

The EMTs get there. They strap me to the transport bed thing, and we take off. The ride was actually pretty fun, and I guess the highlight of the day. After that, they stick me in the ER, and I wait a while. I eat and drink something and feel better, but when they take me back, they say I am still dehydrated, and they hook me up to an IV. The IV, of course, starts hurting when the bag gets about a three quarters empty. So, they take it out and send me on my way.

I get back to the Academy, tell my story about a dozen times (which was actually pretty fun since it was a traumatic but very interesting story). The next morning was pretty bad too. I missed another class because I was in the clinic. Then, I switched up my classes and missed yet another class. I got a lot of makeup work, but I made it through Wednesday with no more ER trips. After a bit of rest and relaxation and a couple of good nights sleeps, I felt back to one hundred percent.

So, I guess I should summarize the great lessons from my unfortunate first days of school. The first is basically bad things will happen. I mean it happens. Sometimes you just have to roll with it. The second is that sometimes you do need to take a pause. Sometimes it is just too much, and you need to take time to sleep, breath, relax, etc. The third is something you will hear at the academy a lot which is communicate and ask for help. Everyone here is very helpful and understanding if you give them the chance by communicating and asking for help. The last one is trying to find a silver lining. I will admit I was pretty down those two days. I had a lot of stress (but unfortunately not blood) pumping through me. However, I am trying to get back to my normal, happy self and look on the bright side. I can’t say you will be happy all the time at the academy. It’s just not true. BUT you will enjoy your time better here if you do your best to look at the positive no matter how hard things get.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT CHEYENNE

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!

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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.

MORE ABOUT FELICIA