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What I Am Thankful For

(Athletics, Extracurricular and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Joshua Roh

Hello, everyone. If you haven’t heard already, life at the Academy can be hard. You take 16-23 credit hours per semester and, on top of that, you have several military obligations as well as mandatory athletics. With all of these challenges, many of us cadets often forget that we have a lot to be thankful for and, as Thanksgiving approaches, I thought it would be an appropriate time for me to reflect on what I am thankful for here.

  1. The Swim Team: I have been a swimmer since I was six years old, which means I have been swimming for almost a decade and a half. Swimming is a big part of my life and my identity and being able to continue with this throughout my tenure as a cadet has been an enormous help in keeping me motivated. Not only do I have something familiar from my life before the Academy but also the men’s team is a true brotherhood. Every day, no matter how tired I am, I can look forward to practice if for nothing else to see the guys.
  2. OCF and Jiu Jitsu: Officers’ Christian Fellowship (OCF) and Jiu Jitsu are the two main clubs, besides the Blog Club, that I participate in. I decided to talk about them together because they both help me equally decompress. My dad was a youth pastor in Des Moines, Iowa when I was born and so Christianity has been a large part of my life. Having the opportunity to fellowship with other believers on a weekly basis at OCF is not only refreshing but has allowed me to meet other likeminded people who I now call friends. Jiu Jitsu is relaxing in another manner entirely but for me no less spiritual. I have done martial arts from when I could walk until the end of middle school and intermittently after. My dad being an avid martial artist helped train me in Taekwondo and Krav Maga before I came to the Academy but, due to the time commitment needed to swim, I was unable to continue for much of high school. When I came to the Academy, I was looking for something to get back into Taekwondo when I came across the Jiu Jitsu club, which I had never heard of before, so I thought I would try it and ever since then I have been a fanatic. As a grappling martial art, it is very different from Taekwondo and Krav in that there is no punching/kicking (i.e., striking); it’s solely grappling. After every practice I go to no matter how tired I was going into it or how physically tired I come out, I always leave energized and ready to go at it again.
  3. My Company: The Corps of Cadets is split into eight companies: Alpha- to Hotel and as a fourth class you are assigned to a company for a year and then transfer to a new company for your last three. Last year I was in Delta which was an amazing experience. I am extremely glad I was able to spend a year there and I would have loved another three but alas, things must change, and I hit the jackpot. I am now in Golf company, which by most people in the corps would not be regarded as the highest in morale. However, the people who transferred in from my class are awesome, several of my good friends came with me, and it feels like the majority of the swim team is in Golf so I get to be with my team all the time, I couldn’t ask for a better group.

There are so many more things I could write about, but, as this is longer than most papers I have written I’ll keep it at these three. Despite the challenges of this place, there is always something there to pull you through. These three are a few examples of many that have gotten me where I am now.

Spes In Virtute

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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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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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Reflections on the Summer Past

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Anthony Turner

Let me set the scene for you. If I were to say that you and seven of your classmates were given a million dollar yacht for a week, you would think I was crazy. What if I told you that you were to sail the coast of New England and immerse yourselves in the local cultures of each port. The only catch is that you have to have fun.

On a more serious note, the Coastal Sail Training Program (CSTP) will most likely be the highlight of your 2/c summer. The program requires a lot of work, but the benefits greatly outweigh the costs. Not only do you learn how to sail, but you also gain a lot of leadership experience. Often the hardest thing is peer leadership. The program is designed to be challenging in certain aspects, but your safety officer and friends aboard the yacht will be there to support you. The beauty of the program is that it doesn’t demand that you become an expert sailor or a world-renowned leader, only that you learn more about yourself.

On the flip side, there are plenty of good things that arise from the program. It’s an excellent opportunity to get to know people in your class. The best way to get to know someone is to live on a 44 foot boat with them and see how they cook. Speaking of food, the cuisine up in Cape Cod and Newport, Rhode Island was outstanding. While in Hyannis, Massachusetts, all the coastal sail boats went to an all-you-can-eat Brazilian barbeque buffet and the food was AMAZING.

The ports that you are going to visit are Stonington, Connecticut; Newport and Block Island, Rhode Island; and Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Hyannis and Cuttyhunk Island, Massachusetts. The majority of the ports are in Massachusetts, but each one is vastly different from the next. There are plenty of museums to visit so you can learn about the history of each port, in addition to seeing the different kinds of architecture there.

When I said that you learn about yourself, this is an understatement. You not only see how you function in stressful situations, but also how you deal with people in that environment. For me, this revelation occurred when I was watch captain, which means that I oversaw the ship for the day. And the weather was awful: there were three to five foot waves; the wind was around 15 knots; and it was foggy, raining and cold. To top it off, we received a search and rescue case that day. Now let me ask you, how do you command seven of your peers in these conditions? During this, the safety officer is there, but simply sitting back to see your course of action. Situations like this really reveal the type of person you are as it did for me that day.

Altogether these experiences made the program. If I’m being honest, it was my favorite experience as a cadet. Nothing tops sailing New England in the summer, meeting new people and experiencing new cultures.

Until next time!

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Training Boats (aka T-Boats)

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Dante Roberts

Another portion of summer training occurred on the Thames River. During this week, we immersed ourselves in the training on the simulator and then on the actual T-boats at the waterfront. During the first two days, we learned about how to be a conning officer (giving commands); how to steer a ship; and how to execute different maneuvers required for man overboards, mooring/unmooring, and anchoring. We applied skills learned from our professional maritime classes and used them directly during this training week.

Following the classroom days, we used our experience from the simulators and applied them directly to the T-Boats. It was rewarding to see that the skills we learned in the classroom were finally paying off in a real-world application. Each day, the boat had assigned cadets-in-charge (CICs) who arrived early to start the engine, generator, and navigation equipment. The CICs researched the weather before arriving and made decisions on how to best carry out the evolutions for the day. Each boat was also assigned a safety officer. They always made sure the crew knew what we were doing, but also allowed us to make mistakes so we could best learn. The last day of T-boats culminated in an exam that included multiple rotations of mooring and unmooring, man overboard recoveries, and an anchoring detail. Probably the best part of the week was getting to know my classmates. As an AIM cadre, I did not know some of my shipmates too well coming in. During this week, I not only worked in a team with some new faces, but also built lasting friendships outside of the training environment.

After the training day, I had the opportunity to go on liberty. During this time, I was able to attend weightlifting and CrossFit with a few of my closest friends, as well as some new ones. On the weekend, I discovered new restaurants with these new friends that I hadn’t known about before. Overall, T-boats had a lasting effect on my classmates and me.

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My AIM Cadre Experience

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Dante Roberts

Left. Left. Left, right. Right on left. My heart raced as the cadence was called out down the steps of Dimick Auditorium. It was the first week of Academy Introduction Mission, otherwise known as AIM. Little did the AIMsters know that they would meet their cadre in this manner. The back doors of the auditorium opened and, one by one, AIM cadre began to filter down the aisles on both sides. Every head must have been on a swivel in the building. That was the first discrepancy: failure to keep eyes in the boat. All 49 cadre looked like a foreboding storm to those high school AIMsters. Our right hands snapped up as we swore our cadre oath for the first time. It all seemed so real now. About face! We marched out of the room and immediately back to Chase Hall. This is where the cadre experience began.

Whiskey 2 cadre looked out the window as Whiskey 1 and Whiskey 2 AIMsters arrived to meet the platoon commanders just outside the steps of Chase Hall. We took the classic cadre photo with our clipboards to display our motivational quotes. The radio on my hip was blaring with radio checks from medical and battalion staff. We were all pacing back and forth. How do we yell at these kids? How do we get them to listen? All these questions were going through our heads. Suddenly, Whiskey 2 platoon ran up the stairs to the wing area and it was almost like instinct kicked in. “Square!” “Square!” “Eyes in the boat!” “Stop looking around!” “Is this funny to you?!” “Center of the p-way!” “Hit the bulkhead!” Within a matter of seconds, we were cadre. And within a few moments, they had already complied with our orders. One by one, each cadre introduced themselves to the AIMsters and relayed relevant information for the week. “Eyes!” Snap! “Fix it! My name is 2/c Roberts, but you will refer to me as Mr. Roberts, sir! Is that understood, Whiskey 2?” “Yes, sir!” “For the remainder of the week, you will no longer refer to yourself with pronouns. Words like I, me, my, we, and our no longer exist. You are a team now, you are an AIMster!” It was almost like our Swab Summer instincts from two years ago were in full gear. The first order of business was to make the platoon stow their civilian clothes and change into the AIM uniform of the day. By the first hour, the AIMsters had changed into uniform, learned to greet and square, and begun to march.

Their real first test was dinner formation. Here they are expected to greet, know indoctrination, form up with the correct division, and keep their eyes in the boat. Formations can be the most stressful for the AIMsters because of these standards and expectations. At meals, the AIMsters were expected to square their food just like the swabs. As one of two division officers at the table, I used this time to foster personal development rather than ask for jokes or stories. I realized that the AIMsters appreciated that as they were not only able to ask Academy-specific questions, but also ones about civilian colleges and high school.

By the end of the week, each participant stated that they were grateful that they were able to learn about leadership and perseverance, as well as what they might want to do for the rest of their lives. This is when I realized what cadre summer was all about. As a 4/c and 3/c, cadets are expected to lead themselves. By 2/c and 1/c year, cadets transition to leading others. This transition into a 2/c cadre truly made me realize that I was influencing and inspiring others.

A crucial part to AIM outside of Chase Hall was the engineering competition. This year was a first for the engineering program. Previous years, such as when I attended AIM in 2015, AIMsters constructed a custom robotic boat that then carried out the different missions of the Coast Guard. This year, however, the AIMsters had to construct various projects that reflected the Academy majors and represented different missions. Thanks to this concept, I felt like I was able to truly promote my major – Marine Environmental Sciences, abbreviated as MES – and actually answer questions. One of the projects was a buoy that could generate electricity by running a magnet through a coil of wire. Each buoy could be tested in the tank in the Naval Architecture lab. Every group of AIMsters was successful in generating a current. It was rewarding for every cadre to answer questions applicable to their major. The next task was drone-related. As National Security cutters begin to utilize drone technology, it is important to understand the concepts that go into the acquisition. The AIMsters had to successfully fly drones through an obstacle course. By doing so, they unlocked “keys” which could be used to decipher a secret message. This exercise also tied in to the new Cyber Systems major. The last exercise was to build a directional antenna that would then be used to locate a transmitter. Every group was successful in locating the “fox” that cadre hid around campus. In summary, our AIMsters were able to get a taste of all the Academy majors and witness different Coast Guard missions.

Another exciting component to the AIM program was the opportunity to see actual assets in the Coast Guard, as well as discuss the training elements at the Academy. Participants were able to see the 44-foot Leadership yachts, go aboard the training boats, see the MES research vessel, and view ship bridge simulators in Yeaton Hall. They were also blessed with the opportunity to go aboard USCGC Albacore, an 87-foot patrol boat station at the Academy. The asset tours blew away all the AIMsters, especially those that needed to find some form of motivation from the program. The last week of AIM, they were able to see an MH-60 helicopter land on the lower field, as well as observe a search and rescue demonstration on the Thames River. Overall, AIM provided participants and cadre with the opportunity to see what there is to offer at the Academy and in the fleet.

If I could do cadre summer all over again, I would. It taught me more about myself, my classmates, and how to lead those I am responsible for. The skills I learned as a cadre are already directly correlating to 2/c year. I feel empowered to speak up in my division and have already begun to mentor the 3/c and 4/c. It is rewarding to see where I was as a 4/c and 3/c, and where I am now. As AIM cadre, I was able to lead and inspire students from around the country who have the potential to become future cadets and officers. Even if they choose not to attend a service academy, many of them stated that they learned personal life skills that they wanted to take back home. As AIM cadre, we not only inspire future cadets, but the future generation of the United States. All it takes is one AIMster from each region to spread the skills they learned once they get back home. That, at least, is the hope that we have as cadre. If past AIM participants are reading this, I hope that you have begun to influence people at school and in your community. Take the skills that you learned at THE United States Coast Guard Academy and use them in YOUR life.

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Eagle Cadre Reflection

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020, Eagle) Permanent link
Amy Chamberlin

Being a cadre on Eagle was an experience that I will remember for both the good and the challenging times. After I heard I would be Eagle cadre, I was worried that I would not have the same relationship that my classmates were gaining through being with the swabs for three weeks in Chase Hall. I quickly realized after getting back to school last week that I was wrong. I feel like the 4/c know the Eagle cadre just as well, if not more.

I thought the most challenging part of the summer was leading my peers. Our group of cadre was split up into a Cadet in Charge, Cadet Executive Officer, a Mast Captain assigned to each of the three masts, and finally division officers underneath the Mast Captains. Each division officer was in charge of 4 to 5 swabs, in addition to exchange cadets, JROTC, Sea Scouts, or Sea Cadets. Learning how to accept your shipmates’ ideas while still acting professional to your division was an important skill to have.

Since I did Summer Ocean Racing during my 3/c summer and did not spend 5 to 6 weeks aboard Eagle and I always knew that I wanted to have an opportunity to sail on America’s Tall Ship. One of the best parts of being an Eagle cadre was being able to get to know the crew. Going to school at the Academy and mostly interacting with officers, it was a different experience to be with a crew of almost all enlisted members. The crew was extremely proficient in their collaterals and specialties. Every cadre had a collateral, mine being the navigation brief into New London, Connecticut.

One of Eagle’s main missions is Public Affairs. The ship usually hosts a reception to different groups once pulling into a port. One of my favorite moments on Eagle was at the reception in Norfolk, Virginia. It was a beautiful night, and coincidently, it was the Coast Guard’s birthday ‒ August 4th! The sun was setting, and we had the large National Ensign flying. As we all heard the boatswain whistle sound off, we all came to attention ‒ cadets; crew; and junior, senior and flag officers. It was a moment of Coast Guard pride. We stood tall as the National Anthem played in the bankground.

If you have any questions about Eagle or Academy life, please email me at Amy.M.Chamberlin@uscga.edu.

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