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Operations Research and Computer Analysis: Thinking Logically and Analytically

(Academics, Class of 2020, Mathematics) Permanent link
Anthony Turner

When I first came to the Academy, I was a Marine and Environmental Sciences (MES) major. In the early spring of 4/c year, I switched to be an Operations Research and Computer Analysis (ORCA) major. Since then, I have loved my major and am blown away with the cool stuff we do. ORCA is more than just math and coding, it helps you think from new perspectives. Personally, I love thinking logically and analytically. The ORCA major does just that.

Since I made my switch to ORCA, I have never considered switching to another major. One reason I stayed was because of the faculty. The teachers in the Math Department are amazing. They are always there to help you with anything and make incredible mentors. In my opinion, they are the best teachers on campus. They realize that the material we cover can be hard sometimes, but they are always willing to sit down and help you understand it.

When I switched into the major, I did not know much about it. We had presentations from all the majors about all the work that they did. This was all I knew about ORCA. The presentation cleared up all the misconceptions I had about this program. It showed how applicable the major was in and outside and the Coast Guard. Another selling point for me was that for our capstone projects, the Coast Guard sends the Academy current problems to solve and we get to solve them. Even as cadets, we can have a direct impact on the fleet. This is the type of challenge that I like!

I did a fair amount of research before I changed majors. I talked to my previous academic advisor and the ORCA faculty as well. In addition to that, I used the Academy website to learn about every major. The most impactful in my decision was talking to the upperclassmen. When I played rugby, most of my teammates were ORCA majors and they encouraged me to switch. They described it as the “slept-on” major because it is the perfect balance of free time and challenging work. As a 2/c, I can attest to that. I spend about four hours a week studying for my classes. A pro tip would be to do this studying during the free periods you have.

The easiest part of the major are the math classes, such as Multivariable Calculus and the optimization classes. They still have a certain level of difficulty, but they are the easiest classes you may take. The hardest classes are the ones that involve coding. I never coded until I took Computer Model Languages and it was like learning a new language. To those who code frequently, it’ll be a walk in the park. If you have never written a line in your life, rest assured because the faculty will be there to help you out.

In terms of how I prepared for ORCA in high school, I did not. I focused on science classes, because I thought I was going to be a MES major. Some computer classes were offered, but I chose not to take them, simply because I didn’t think I would need them. In terms of the calculus classes, I was not very prepared. I was placed in pre-calculus and worked my way to get on pace with my classmates.

To those that want to be ORCA, just get ready to work. Have no fear though, you will never feel overworked, and always ask your teachers for help. Those are the only tools you’ll need to succeed!

Until next time. I’ll see y’all later!

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Selecting a Major: Marine and Environmental Sciences

(Academics, Marine and Environmental Sciences) Permanent link
Deborah King

The academic majors offered at USCGA are of critical importance to properly supplying the United States Coast Guard with officers that are prepared to serve in a demanding environment. The goal at USCGA is to graduate and commission an evenly distributed number of officers in each academic major every year. It is essential that CGA applicants carefully examine their desires and do research when expressing their original intent for a major.

I am a Marine and Environmental Sciences (MES) major with a focus on chemical and physical sciences. I knew I wanted to be an MES major since I applied because I love the outdoors and wanted to learn more about it. In high school, I took AP Chemistry, Physics, and Biology. Even though I did not earn college credit for the AP classes, the rigor was worth it to prepare me for science at the Academy. I was fortunate enough to validate Chemistry 1 and 2 at the Academy, giving me more options in the major. As of now, I am also taking botany classes at Connecticut College because of my interest in forestry.

I spend about two hours plus a night on major-specific studying. The best part of the major has to be the field trips and field work. It’s cool to be exposed the information in the classroom, but it’s better to see science in action at the aquarium, beach, or in and around the Thames River. The most difficult part of the major is the math and programming portions for Waves and Tides. I did not expect as much math as there is, though it’s mostly in the physical oceanography portion. If I were to give advice to someone considering my major, I would say that MES is one of the most tactile and rewarding academic programs. There are difficult semesters, but nothing beats hands-on learning.

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My Major: Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering

(Academics, Class of 2020, Engineering) Permanent link
Amy Chamberlin

Hello! I wanted to take some time to talk about why I chose my major, Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering (NAME), and the experiences I have had with Nav Arch thus far. I will start off by saying that, unlike a lot of my shipmates, I came into the Academy knowing what I wanted to major in and never looked back.

Growing up in Rhode Island and learning how to sail when I was 12, I knew I wanted to spend my life helping others while being on the water. With that, I found that Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering was a possible major, and that the Coast Guard Academy was one of the few colleges that offers it. Immediately, I looked at the Academy’s website and knew that the CGA was right for me. Ever since I received my appointment, I have been waiting to take major-specific courses. Now that I am in my 2/c year, I am finally enrolled in classes like Principles of Naval Architecture, which are relevant to what I want to do in the future. One unique experience that Nav Archs get at the Academy is to be a part of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME). The New England chapter holds meetings at the Academy and cadets are able to attend. There is always a nice dinner followed by a talk by professional naval architects. It is refreshing to hear how what we are learning in the classroom applies to real life.

If you are a prospective cadet, I would recommend participating in Cadet for a Day. I attended the program when I was a senior in high school and I shadowed a 3/c (who is now an ensign!). She was a Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering major and was on the dinghy team. The experience sealed the deal for me to not only come to the Academy, but to major in NAME. I feel like my high school prepared me really well to be successful at the Academy. I think it is really important to take higher level math and science courses ‒ for example, I took AP Calculus AB, AP Physics I and II, and AP Environmental Science!

Being an engineer at the Academy is not the easiest life but late nights, lots of coffee, and studying with friends are all things to look forward to. Between homework and studying, I spend at least 20 hours a week doing work outside the classroom. I would say that is typical for most engineers. If I were to give advice to a prospective cadet it would be to study hard in high school, but also to have fun. The cadet experience is nonstop but I have learned to make the most of every moment. Ask a lot of questions, get to know your teachers well, and don’t just survive, but thrive!

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at Amy.M.Chamberlin@uscga.edu.

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Choosing Marine and Environmental Sciences as a Major

(Academics, Class of 2020, Marine and Environmental Sciences) Permanent link
Jacqueline Jones

I am a Marine and Environmental Sciences (MES) major here at the Academy. I chose my major because I was originally interested in biochemistry and the Marine and Environmental Sciences program is most closely related. There are three tracks in the major; Physical Oceanography, Biological Environmental Science, and Chemical Environmental Science. I had to choose two tracks, so the most obvious ones for me where the biological and chemical, where I am taking classes such as organic chemistry, fisheries biology, marine biology, and meteorology. Personally, organic chemistry is my favorite subject; however, the field trips in the other classes made them equally enjoyable. The most frequent field trips being to the Mystic Aquarium and out on the R/V Michael J. Greeley, a research vessel for cadets.

The most difficult portion of the major are the prerequisites. I love science, but I am not a math person at all so luckily the professors in the math department are amazing and were there to help me every step of the way. There were a lot of long nights working with the professors who stay late about once a week to help students catch up on material that they may be struggling with or those that just want extra practice. I would have had a much harder time getting through calculus, multi-variable calculus, and differential equations, if it were not for the resources available to me. Now, I only need to get through probability and statistics next semester and I am done with math requirements for my major! If you are interested in learning more about major-specific requirements, check out the Marine and Environmental Sciences page on the Academy website. I did a lot of researching on the page looking at not only the major requirements, but also cadet blogs like this one (I hope it helps). I also stayed for an overnight visit with a cadet in my major so that I could ask more questions.

In the end, I chose this major because of all the career possibilities inside and outside the Coast Guard. In high school, I had the opportunity to intern at research institutions such as the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Agriculture. I loved both of those internships and I found that I would love to work in environmental response while in the Coast Guard, and environmental health or environmental justice when I get out of the Coast Guard. My major allows me to take a few electives that I believe will help me learn more about this path. As of now, my electives are microeconomics and emergency management. Next year, I hope to take public policy and environmental policy.

Besides the classes and the field trips, the best part of my major are definitely the professors and my classmates. All of the professors are passionate in what they do. So, if you are thinking about the Marine and Environmental Sciences major, I am here to tell you that it is the way to go, but do your research and see if it is the right fit for you.

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Rolling on the River

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Francesca Farlow

The academic year is rolling along here on the Thames in New London and I could not be more excited to be a third class cadet. It was great to return to the Academy from leave and see my friends and teammates, some of whom I had not seen in over three months. Last time my class walked the halls together we wore green shields on our uniforms and bore no stripe on our shoulder boards. Now we have returned wearing red shields and having earned a single diagonal stripe. This year will bring so many new adventures, new lessons, new friends, and perhaps most importantly the privilege to look at my food again. Third class year is a transition out of followership and into role-modeling. For my class, we will be setting an example for fourth class, holding ourselves accountable, and finishing out our core classes.

At the end of fourth class year, cadets are shuffled and moved to new companies where they will remain for the duration of the next three years. I was an Alfa fourth class and was placed in Charlie for the next three. I am interested to learn about Charlie’s role in the corps and what I can do to be a part of it as a third class. I am also eager to help fourth class get through this year because although it is tough, it is worth it, but that can be difficult to see while you’re experiencing it.

I am also excited to start taking major-specific classes and really begin to understand the Operations Research major. This semester I am taking two math classes, a computer language class, American Government, Rescue Swimming, Organizational Behavior and Leadership, and Spanish. I am really looking forward to the computer language and math classes. Outside of class I am part of the women’s rugby team this season as well as Cadets Against Sexual Assault, Spectrum Council and Women’s Leadership Council.

Go 3/c year and Go Bears!

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Alpha Lambda Delta

(Academics, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Amy Chamberlin

On Tuesday 24OCT2017, fifty members of the Class of 2020 were inducted into the Academy’s chapter of Alpha Lambda Delta (ALD). To be an inductee, a cadet has to have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.5. It was an extraordinary night, with Lieutenant Melissa K. McCafferty (a former blogger) as the keynote speaker. Her words of wisdom about striving to put others before yourself, working hard toward your dreams, and staying humble throughout your journey touched everyone. Dr. Alina Zapalska, the advisor of ALD, commented that there were more inductees in the Class of 2020 than usual, which she was very excited about. Being a part of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society is just the beginning of a great academic career at the Coast Guard Academy. As LT McCafferty told the inductees and special guests, there are scholarship opportunities for high-standing cadets, such as the Fulbright Scholarship, Truman Scholarship, and Rhodes Scholarship. LT McCafferty was awarded the Truman Scholarship in 2011, and is currently on the Board of Directors for the Truman Scholars Association. My favorite part of the night was when all of the inductees got their certificate and stood reciting the pledge of the Alpha Lambda Delta society with a “flame of knowledge” (a lit candlestick)!

If you have any questions about Alpha Lambda Delta or anything regarding cadet life, please email me at Amy.M.Chamberlin@uscga.edu.

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Hump Week

(Academics, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Anthony Turner

Midterms! This past week marks the halfway point of the first semester. Nine weeks of stress, lack of sleep, and late night group study sessions has finally ended, only to lead into another nine weeks of the exact same thing. These nine weeks have been a rough transition from high school. The ability to manage sports with classes, and military obligations, while keeping up your grades is a challenge. One thing that helped me get through the first part of this semester, would be the 4-5-2 class periods. These classes allowed me to effectively plan my obligations and assignments for the upcoming week, and while it may sound simple, it’s extremely helpful. When it comes to getting work done, you need to be able to find those small breaks that you have and use them effectively. Thus, you save so much more time at night, allowing you to do other activities such as going to bed early!

In terms of the grading process, the first part of the semester is almost completely homework. You won’t believe the amount of homework that you have. I remember my senior year, I had eight classes and I could get my homework done in a few hours. Now, I have 4 classes and depending on the number of military obligations I have, it can take all night. While it may sound rough, don’t worry it pays off in the end. I told my division head about my progress, and she advised me to push a little harder in the latter half of this semester, and I’ll have a gold star. Now, the latter half of this semester is going to be a little harder. The first half was plagued with homework, and now the latter half is plagued with exams. No worries though, it’s still going to be a good semester!

Until the next scheduled programming.

Peace,

Anthony Turner

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And Let the Games Begin! Again…

(Academics, Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Darden Purrington

Exactly nine weeks ago today, June 25, 2016, my parents and I arrived in New London, Connecticut, to the city that I would call home for the next four years. Swab Summer came and went in a whirlwind of yelling and commotion and now we are one week into the school year. And even though I am now part of the corps, that I am a “basically trained coast guardsman,” I feel no different.

Classes started this week and, just like high school, some are harder than others. Statics and Engineering Design is a pretty tough class, Leaders in U.S. History is practically a repeat of my AP U.S. History class (this is certainly not a bad thing since I loved my APUSH class, simply something I’ve noticed). While we are on the topic of things I’ve noticed, another thing I’ve observed is that life here at the CGA is very, very similar to high school (kinda backward right? Most people have told you differently, haven’t they?). My high school experience was very busy, 20+ hours a week on the water with my sailing team, rigorous academics with many AP classes, participation my school’s choir and a cappella group as well as my church’s choir, Girl Scouts (including earning my Gold Award), DEV Team, and working on the tech crew for my school’s theatre department and occasionally another theatre group outside my school. Do I say all this to make myself look good? No. I say all this because I read the cadet blogs all through high school and everybody said something to the effect of “it’s so much harder than high school ever was,” and I spent a good portion of my time worrying about how on earth I would ever survive in a place with even more demands on my time. I want to dismiss that thought for anybody who’s schedule was a jam packed as mine. In high school, I got up around 5:30 every morning, didn’t get home until after 7:30 every evening, and then did homework until at least 12 if not further into the night. Here at the Academy, I get up at 5:45 (Wooo! Sleeping in a bit!), I go to classes, some days I even have a free period where I can do homework, I go to sailing (which always ends at a set time), I eat (squaring my meals of course), then I either practice with the Glee Club for an hour or finish my homework and am in bed by 12 (unless there’s a Formal Room and Wing, then all bets for sleeping are off).

That was long and tangent-y so I’ll hop off here and let you continue with your day.

Very Respectfully,

4/c Darden Purrington

Feel free to email me at any time: Kathlene.D.Purrington@uscga.edu.

MORE ABOUT DARDEN