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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!!!

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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. 😊

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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.

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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.

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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!!!

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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!

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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]

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