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Lifelong FriendSHIPS Begin on Day One

(Choosing the Academy, Just for Fun, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Bruna Pavan

You don’t have to go through Swab Summer to understand that it is challenging. You can look up videos, newspaper articles, pictures (thanks Paul Duddy!) and interviews of all sorts that will describe how strenuous Swab Summer is, and a lot of blog posts are already written about individual experiences. Instead, I will tell you that the people you struggle and sweat with over those seven weeks become some of your closest friends. Not only do I have faith and trust in those in my Swab Summer company, but all of my classmates because we underwent the transformative experience that is Swab Summer and fourth class year together.

While I was driving my own car up from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to school (having a car here is a firstie-only privilege), I had plenty of time to reflect on how awesome the past three years were at the Academy and what amazing things are yet to come in the next eight months here. After eight hours of driving northbound, I made a stop in Charleston, South Carolina to visit one of my best friends and her family at their home. Hannah Waddell, a rugby-playing naval architecture and marine engineer, was one of my very first friends at the Academy as we were in the same Swab Summer company and have been my roommate for four of my six semesters here. Even though we kept in daily contact, it was great to finally see each other after eleven weeks apart.

Of course, I can’t mention Hannah without Kiera! Kiera Harrison is a Marine and Environmental Sciences major from Jackson, New Jersey. The three of us began our friendship on Day One of our 200-week long journey, and we have shared a tremendous amount of time together since between rugby, eating dinner together every night, spending every spring break at each other’s homes and long weekends exploring the East Coast. When my parents call, it’s always, “Hey, what are you up to?” followed by “How are Hannah and Kiera doing?”

The friendships you develop here make this place feel like home. Being surrounded by awesome people and being able to walk down the hall to see some of your best friends is one of my favorite aspects of this experience. They’ve seen me at my best, worst and everything in between and that is why this bond is so strong and true. Even though we study different things and are involved in a variety of activities, we can still depend on each other to work together just as we could over Swab Summer.

MORE ABOUT BRUNA

CGAS Cadre Experience

(Choosing the Academy, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Pat Wheeler

After I completed the three-week long summer orientation for the Coast Guard Academy Scholars Program (CGAS) back in 2015, all I wanted to be was a CGAS cadre! My cadre were tough, but fair, and I looked up to them because of this. They drove us hard, pushing us to break through mental and physical barriers I never imagined I would be capable of overcoming. Each of them instilled discipline into us, which is vital for military service. Above all, they motivated us to feel pride in the U.S. Coast Guard, encouraging each cadet-candidate to be passionate about the missions and history of the “Long, Blue Line” of Coast Guardsmen that had gone before us. Upon completion of our “boot camp” experience, several of us made it our goal to one day become CGAS cadre. Now, three years later, we have accomplished that objective we set before ourselves.

The CGAS summer orientation experience is quite a bit different when you are on the other end of it (i.e., not the one getting yelled at, but the one doing the yelling). It’s absolutely a challenge shaping kids who have just graduated from high school into basically trained Coast Guardsmen and women. The training is also just as physically taxing on the cadre as it is on the trainees, the cadet-candidates. The biggest motivating factor that gives the cadre the extra energy they need each day is the genuine desire to prepare each of the trainees the best they can for prep school. We want the cadet-candidates to represent the Coast Guard in a professional manner at Marion Military Institute, Georgia Military College, and the Naval Academy Preparatory School. Each of the scholars is a direct reflection of the cadre who trained them, as well as the Coast Guard as a whole, so it is of the utmost importance to the cadre that each students has engrained into them the core values of honor, respect, and devotion to duty. The training they receive over CGAS summer orientation will help each of them succeed at their respective preparatory schools, giving them the foundation and tools necessary for them to make it back to the Academy a year later for Swab Summer and, eventually, aid them in their four-year experience in New London, all the way through until commissioning as an ensign.

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On the Road to Success

(Choosing the Academy, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Dante Roberts

The cadet blog program is an excellent opportunity to provide past, current, and future cadets with a relevant viewpoint of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Cadets are represented from every state and from different countries, so it could benefit a future applicant to look into the life of somebody from their state.

In my case, I am one of the few people that represents Nevada; therefore, it might be advantageous for someone from this state or region of the country to see how I travel back home or how I became accustomed to being further away from home than others. After coming for the AIM program in July 2015, I followed cadet blogs whenever I could. I wanted to learn what it was like to be a cadet at such a prestigious academy. Not only did I come for AIM, but I came for the Genesis Invitational in November 2015 at which time I was offered my appointment in person by Admiral Rendon and Captain McKenna. At this event, the four of us that had received our appointments seemed to be an inspiration to those interested in applying. After this, I continued following blogs and was inspired by what cadets were doing in the fleet during the summer, in the classroom, and on the field. Now, I am one of those cadets that can influence the next generation of future officers.

I hope people can read my blog entries and become motivated and inspired to join the Long Blue Line on the road to success.

MORE ABOUT DANTE

Words Lead to Adventure

(Choosing the Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2021) Permanent link
Alyssa Easley

I remember profusely reading through the cadet blogs when I was in high school. I wanted to know what daily life was like at the Academy as well as get any inside scoops and tips that could help me in both Swab Summer and during the academic year.

Choosing to come to a service academy is a big deal, and I believe that reading those blogs gave me enough insight to reaffirm that I was making the right decision! Reading peoples’ personal experiences at the Academy gave me the courage to take on everything that comes with being a cadet.

Writing is likely the most convenient way to get through to others, to express emotions, and recreate experiences. Not only that, but free-writing is one of those creative outlets that somehow manages to relieve the most stressful situations.

If, by writing, I can both do something I love and (most importantly) help someone possibly make a worthwhile and big decision, then so be it! Cadet blogging here I come! I’m ready to write about all the cool things that occur within this amazing corps!

MORE ABOUT ALYSSA

Join Me on My 200-Week Adventure

(Choosing the Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2021) Permanent link
Jacob Cheeseman

Why do I want to be a cadet blogger? The answer is simple: I want to give back. Even though I am only a 3/c cadet, I want to inspire the next generation of cadets to come behind me. I remember reading through the blog posts when I had just started to be seriously interested in the Academy. Later, I turned to the blogs for advice before AIM and during the application process. Soon, the blogs gave me important motivational tips that I internalized before Swab Summer began. I want to share my cadet experience with others so they can learn from my mistakes and my successes. If I can inspire even one candidate to apply to the Academy, then I have been successful. But if I can inspire candidates to apply, come here, and succeed, then that would be even better.

I hope to share with you what is most important to me at the Academy. Obviously, I will discuss cadet life, including academics, military, and athletic training. In this program, I will be learning how to be a better cadet as I am writing! I also want to share the unique experiences that you can’t get anywhere else, such as meeting high ranking government officials, participating in historic ceremonies, etc. I want to show the human side of the Academy – having fun with my shipmates, growing in my Catholic faith, and becoming a better person! I hope that you can join me on my CGA adventure and learn with me as I progress through my 200-week journey to becoming a Coast Guard Officer – the ultimate goal and motivation for those who walk through the Chase Hall Archway on Day One!

Semper Paratus! Go Bears!

MORE ABOUT JACOB

Everything's a Circle

(Choosing the Academy, Class of 2021) Permanent link
Malia Haskovec

Something that I hear a lot at the Academy is that the Coast Guard is one giant family. As the smallest branch of the Armed Forces, we must be able to adapt and do more with less. Therefore, in the fleet, there is a high chance you will run into someone that you already know. The same thing happens at the Academy. It is easy to make connections here from the Bears Day program, AIM, STEP, and other Admissions events. There may even be a fellow cadet from your same hometown. That’s one of the major reasons why I chose to come to the Academy – the small, genuine, family-like environment where everyone knows everyone. When researching the Academy, I remember reading cadet blogs on topics like Swab Summer, time management, and Academy clubs. Learning about the bloggers’ experiences through the written word solidified my intention to receive an appointment for the Class of 2021. Now I am a 4/c cadet in the same division as two of the bloggers who impacted my life so greatly. I no longer know them from their profile pictures on a computer screen. Now I know them as real people. It’s truly amazing to see how everything at the Coast Guard Academy comes full circle. My hope as a blogger is to inform prospective cadets about Academy life in hopes of completing many more circles.

MORE ABOUT MALIA

High School AIM Experience

(Choosing the Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020) Permanent link
MegMarie Stanchi

Before I attended AIM, I had only visited the Coast Guard Academy in person once. Now, to some, that may be more than what they experienced, but my point is that the Academy was still such a foreign place to me. I think most people can agree that their first visit to the Academy was very confusing. You don’t know what to think or what to ask because it is all so different. Well, that is why I was nervous going in to AIM; I really wasn’t sure what I was walking in to. I had done my research on AIM and Swab Summer, so I knew what might happen, or what may be done, but I was really scared to see how I would respond to it all. Even though I knew it was only supposed to be a taste of Swab Summer, I wanted to see how I would react because that was going tell me if I could handle attending this school for four years.

So, I just did it. I powered through the week and took all that I could from it. AIM is a program that not everyone gets to attend before Swab Summer, so you must take it as an opportunity to learn and ask questions if you are selected. The AIM program might have changed a little bit, but for me, the first three to four days simulated Swab Summer, in a watered-down version. We saw a lot of the Academy, went to trainings, did some incentive training, cleaned our room, folded our clothes, recited indoc, and squared our meals. It wasn’t until the end that we got to talk to our cadre, and hear from them what being a cadet at the Coast Guard Academy was like. When they talked to us, I soaked it all in. My favorite part about AIM was being able to hear what real cadets struggled with at the Academy, what they learned, what activities they were involved in, and really, how they “survived” the Academy. Hearing them speak made it seem less scary and foreign. I realized that these cadets were people from different backgrounds and different regions of the U.S., and they had made it through. They finished Swab Summer, they completed two academic years, and they stood up in front of me and talked about situations they had been in and how they got through them. As corny as it sounds, I realized they were just people. People transitioning in that weird stage from teenager to young adult.

After hearing what the academics at the Academy was like, after seeing a bit of what Swab Summer demanded, and listening to personal experiences from cadets, something was quite clear to me. I had to apply to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and give this place a try.

MORE ABOUT MEGMARIE

Semper Gumby

(Athletics, Choosing the Academy, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Taylor Rowles

As an applicant for Coast Guard Academy, I dissected, read, and reread the cadet blogs to gain insight into the lifestyle of a cadet. The past cadet bloggers truly made a difference in my interest in the Academy and helped me find my way to studying along the Thames. Now that I am a cadet, I would love to give back to those who are lost in the ongoing college decision process through blogging about my experiences thus far at the Academy.

Over the past year at the Academy I have learned to expect the unexpected because no one day is like the next. We are always adjusting to change much like an officer’s day-to-day lifestyle out in the fleet. Whether it is a pop-up uniform inspection or a drug boat causing us to diverge from coarse, I have learned that you must be “Semper Gumby” as a future officer in the Coast Guard. I would love the opportunity to voice our unique experience to those who one day wishes to serve next to us. As an avid participant in over ten clubs and women’s varsity track and field I will be able to give a wide range of information regarding what happens behind the gates of the USCGA.

MORE ABOUT TAYLOR