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Cadet Blogs

Ready to Serve

(Class of 2021, Government) Permanent link
Eric Noble

I’m incredibly grateful for the experiences I’ve had at USCGA. I’ve been taught by an outstanding faculty and a dedicated team of coaches, company officers, and company chiefs, upper-class cadets and even my under-class cadets. To my sponsors, the Pacquette and Griffin family, the Academy clinic, the mailroom employees, and the wardroom staff, each of you will have a special place in my heart. Representing the Philippines in a U.S. military academy setting was quite challenging, but, at the same time, my daily interactions with all of you made it fulfilling and rewarding.

As an international relations major, I am ecstatic to serve the Philippine Coast Guard and apply what I have learned from my cadetship. My classes in international law, transnational threats, Spanish, Korean, public policy-making, maritime law enforcement, and criminal justice were some of the most memorable experiences I have had. I cannot wait to impart my acquired knowledge to my future units.

I thank the CG-12 staff and the rest of my mentors in the Philippine Coast Guard for their tremendous support and for providing us the tools we needed to succeed. I would also like to congratulate the class of 2021 on our graduation and wish everyone fair winds and following seas. We’ve all worked hard, and I know that we’ll continue to do so in our careers as commissioned officers. I’ll miss you all.

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The Final Blog

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2021) Permanent link
Stephanie Burckhard

Well, the time has arrived. The great Class of 2021 (go odd years!) is heading out to the fleet in just a few days. It still hasn’t hit me yet that classes are done and it’s time to leave Connecticut. The classes of 2022, 2023, and 2024 have been slowly leaving Chase Hall to head out to the fleet or to home for a short summer vacation. It was weird saying goodbye to people I knew I wouldn’t see again for probably a few months or years.

I’m excited to announce that I received my top billet choice! I will be heading to USCGC Bertholf stationed in Alameda, CA as a Student Engineer.

These past few years at CGA have been something I wouldn’t trade the world for. Since Day One, I have made so many amazing friendships that I know will last me well into the fleet and beyond. There have been ups and downs and each time, I have grown as a stronger leader and person. I firmly believe I am a completely different person than when I entered those front gates on June 26, 2017.

The Academy is a challenging, demanding, and rigorous 4-year program. The biggest piece of advice I would leave with is to always cherish the good times. Those will be memories you will turn back on and smile about the most.

To those interested in applying to CGA, go take a visit or apply for AIM. It’s difficult to describe the family atmosphere in one blog and it was this atmosphere that drew me to pick CGA. If you can’t do either, feel free to reach out to any of the bloggers on this page!

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Billet Night Reflection

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2021) Permanent link
Katherine Doty

Thursday, March 4th was a momentous day for many members of the Class of 2021. Billet Night, as it is commonly referred to, is the night where first class cadets discover where they will be stationed for the next 2-3 years. For the Class of 2021, the options included Deck Watch Officer or Engineering Officer in Training aboard cutters, Student Aviator at Naval Flight School, Marine Inspector at a sector or other marine safety unit, or Watchstander at the Cyber Security Operations Center.

The night began with a lovely dinner in the cadet wardroom. We then headed to the Leamy Hall Auditorium for the presentation of billets. The entire auditorium felt like a step into a different world because there was so much excitement and rejoicing. As everyone can attest, the past year has been difficult in many ways. This was an opportunity for the Class of 2021 to take a break from all of the stress and get excited for the next chapter of our lives.

Since Billet Night, we have been busy talking with our new units, apartment hunting, and working to finish our last semester of college strong. Because we will be scattered from our classmates very soon, everyone is doing their best to enjoy the last few weeks with our friends.

May 19th, here we come!!!

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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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Oh How Time Flies!

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2021) Permanent link
Stephanie Burckhard

It seemed like it was just yesterday when I was telling my mother on Day One that no, I cannot make it through the Academy. That was exactly 1,300 days ago. I am so incredibly blessed to have gone through these past 3.5 years- couldn’t have done it without all the great people I met along the way.

The other day the Class of 2021 submitted their billets! It’s an exciting and nerve-wrecking time hitting the submit button. I turned to my roommate and we were smiling ear-to-ear. It’s one step closer to Billet NIght and another step closer to graduation.

Since COVID-19, many of us can say this is not the 1/c (“senior”) year we expected. No ring dance, no winter formal, no sports, etc. Thankfully, our class has worked as a team to come up with creative and fun socially-distanced events. To replace the lack of a ring dance, our class council held a ring dipping ceremony in Crowne Park. We all were able to dip our shiny new class rings in the water from the seven seas. It was a great event to replace a much-anticipated ring dance.

Unfortunately, for our last semester here at CGA, COVID-19 cases have increased along with restrictions. We have our fingers crossed that Billet Night will be somewhat normal and that we can walk across the stage in a few short months. The Class of 2021 has gone through a lot these past 1,300 days but we remain together during this pandemic. I am forever grateful for each friend I’ve made along the way and cannot wait to see where the Coast Guard takes us.

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Bittersweet Returns

(Extracurricular and Faith-Based Involvement, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2021) Permanent link
Juliana Lehnerova

The fall semester was our first semester back at the Academy since the pandemic, and the first time since March that I got to see some of my friends. While it was great to be with the corps again, it was very different from what I was used to. We couldn’t all eat dinner together anymore, or sit next to one another in class, and any gathering had its masks and restrictions and social distancing. It was certainly something to get used to, and I felt that I was losing many of the things I loved about the Academy.

I have loved horses since I was little and joined Equestrian Club as soon as I got to the Academy. With many activities curtailed, I chose this time to become more serious about my riding - and to bring a few friends along for the ride. It was amazing to have the chance to share my passion with my friends and watch them fall in love with my sport. We started going out riding more often and developed deeper relationships with one another and with the animals we rode. After feeling that many things were “taken away” by the pandemic, it was a great consolation to still have a passion toward which I could direct my energy. It was a balm to the sense of loss and sometimes loneliness that came with the pandemic.

As the semester went on, I was able to discover more passions. I went along to horse shows with our club advisor and learned how to take photos of horses, especially in action. I fell in love with photography and looked forward to the weekends when I would be able to practice my new craft at the shows. Other cadets came with me. Together, we found creative ways to be together and pursue what we loved while staying safe. Moreover, going to events all over the area and seeing people of all ages enjoying themselves and persevering through the difficulties of the new post-COVID world was inspiring. It challenged us to be creative and intentional with the way we spend our time.

Despite the many challenges of the past semester, I am excited to come back for more. While I still reminisce over the things I lost, it is hard to be sad for long when there is so much that I have gained. I can’t wait to get my billet in March and see what the next chapter has in store for me!

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The “Coffee” at the End of the Tunnel

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2021, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Eric Noble

Last Wednesday, I got the opportunity to catch up with my sponsor brothers and sponsor mom over at the Leamy Hall Student Center. This was long overdue because everyone had been very busy with academics and military. Our sponsor mom also had scheduling conflicts and we had to sort out and synchronize our schedules with hers. Finally, once we had everyone together, we sat down by the couches of the cafe. I was very excited to hear their stories after not being able to sit down like this together in-person for over months now.

While drinking our Starbucks coffee and blended beverages, we conversed about how excited we are for Thanksgiving leave and how tough this school year was due to online classes and the current COVID-19 pandemic. While socially distanced, we exchanged our goodbyes and wished everyone to finish the semester strong. I am happy to see all of them hanging in there and staying positive despite everything that is happening outside the walls of the Academy. We thank the staff of the Leamy Hall Student Center Café for being available for socially-distanced gatherings like these. We hope to spend more time here in the coming weeks as we close out the semester and transition to remote-learning after Thanksgiving.

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2020: Flying By the Seat of My Pants

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2021) Permanent link
Felicia Lombardi

Words cannot describe how crazy this year has been for everyone. From a virtual spring semester and a scramble to salvage 1/c academic internships, to a never-before-seen standard operating procedure (SOP) onboard CGA this fall, the word unprecedented is overused and understated. If there is one thing that I have learned through it all, it is that the Coast Guard does not stop for anything, even a global pandemic. Instead, the Coast Guard keeps rolling with the punches and, in doing so, takes advantage of the opportunity to train cadets in the critical art of flying by the seat of your pants.

I was in line for Expedition Everest in Walt Disney World with my family and two other cadets when I got the email that we would not be returning for the remainder of the spring semester. I don’t think any of us understood at the time just how big this was going to get, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to spend some extra time with my family. At first it was fun telecommuting to class. I didn’t have to put a uniform on first thing in the morning, I could wear slippers to meals, and I could wear clothes that weren’t navy blue.

However, the novelty wore out pretty quickly. After about two weeks of virtual school, I missed my friends and teammates; I missed late night discussions about Nietzche and NYT v. Sullivan; I missed the treadmills and squat racks in the Billard Cardio Room; I missed the strong sense of purpose and duty that I wake up with every day at USCGA. We went from a couple weeks at home, to a couple more weeks, to the rest of the semester. Then my sister (now ENS Lombardi) lost the fun and festivities of Grad Week and I lost my summer internship. Overall things seemed pretty dim; we weren’t sure what was to come of the summer or the fall semester.

Thankfully, even when the Coast Guard is flying by the seat of its pants, it always lands on its feet. Our leadership team worked tirelessly to organize a return to campus so we could pack out our rooms. While two weeks without liberty is bound to elicit complaints, it allowed us to make the most of it—taking long walks, playing recreational sports, and spending way more time outside than we ever did before. While we were restricting our movement, we were ensured that we had a beneficial summer training opportunity by Cadet Training.

My summer ended up being all over the place. I spent two weeks onboard the Barque Eagle with all firsties where we spent the days talking professional development and practicing our conning skills, and we spent the nights watching romance movies off a projector in the Gorch Fock II berthing. After Eagle, I returned to CGA and telecommuted to a virtual internship with the Washington International Diplomatic Academy. While this wasn’t the internship I had planned on, it ended up being very informative and helped me cement my desire to work for the foreign service after the Coast Guard. After four weeks of class, I went to Sector Long Island Sound in New Haven, CT where I worked in Response Ashore. I was only there for two weeks but met lots of great mentors and role models while being exposed to a whole aspect of the Coast Guard that I knew little about before.

While this pandemic brought many ups and downs with an everchanging course of action, I still had a great summer training experience thanks to the fact that the Coast Guard always perseveres!

MORE ABOUT FELICIA