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The Last Stretch

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2022) Permanent link
Jack Brunswick

Time at the Academy flies by, but also feels so slow. I don’t know why the days feel like forever but the weeks go fast. The last few months has been crazy with Billet Night , spring break, castle dance, and more. Here, I’ll summarize all the things you can look forward to when you’re a 1/c cadet (senior) at the Coast Guard Academy.

Billet Night

Billet Night is when all the senior cadets find out where they are going for their first job after graduation. In December we receive a list, and we upload our top picks online. Then in March, we all get together for a formal dinner, then we all gather in the auditorium for a presentation. They call up a handful of cadets at a time, and announce their billets while they are on stage. I didn’t go until the end, so I was nervous for most of the night. There was a lot of cheering, crying (happy tears), and celebrating for everyone. I have friends going to Hawaii, Florida, Guam, California, and more. I got Sector/Cyber Texas, which was my number one choice. Billet Night is super exciting because you get to celebrate all your classmates and your own accomplishments over the past three and a half years. We all struggled and triumphed together, and Billet Night is the culminating event that brings that all together. Even more excitingly, you get to start house hunting or apartment hunting, which has been a little stressful, but mostly fun. I definitely recommend getting a roommate because it is more fun that way. Also, you’ll save a lot of money and/or be able to afford a nicer place. No billet is a bad billet. Even if you end up somewhere you don’t want, it’s still an amazing opportunity. I wanted to be grateful no matter what billet I got. There are so many college kids who don’t have the opportunity to get a good job after school or get paid as much as a Coast Guard officer does. Some kids can’t afford college, and some kids around the world get the opportunity at a high school level education. Billet Night put in perspective how blessed I am and that I should be grateful of all my opportunities, friends, and classmates.

Spring Break

Spring break is self-explanatory. You get a week off from school in March, the week after Billet Night. I spent my week with some friends snowboarding in Vermont and New Hampshire. I have the Epic Pass, which for military is only $150 (usually $1000+ for civilians). I will do a separate post about the perks of going to the academy and being in the military.

Castle Dance

Originally, Castle Dance was created by 1/c cadets (seniors) to have their own event separate from the Academy. However, rumor has it that one year the cadets got too rowdy and Castle Dance was canceled. Eventually, Castle Dance was brought back under the condition that Academy faculty and leadership could oversee the planning of the event. This year, we were able to have our Castle Dance at the Rosecliff Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. It looks like the mansion in Great Gatsby. We all got dressed up in suits and dresses, had a DJ, drinks, and food. I’m not going to lie, this is probably one of the most fanciest events I’ve been at. The class leadership did a great job planning it, and it is something to look forward to as a senior.

Dining In

Dining In is another formal dinner where 1/c cadets dine with admirals, officers, and other VIPs. This dinner is a welcome into the Officer Corps. As a cadet, you usually have a formal dinner like this once or twice a year.

Graduation

Graduation is May 18th this year. Then, we get 30 days of leave to spend time with family, travel, and get settled into our new place. Then, we all report into our new jobs and get to work!

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Secret Perks of Being a Cadet

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2022) Permanent link
Jack Brunswick

Being in the military brings lots of perks. If you are thinking about joining a military service academy or ROTC, here are a few unexpected perks that might be thrown your way.

  1. Chipotle does a law enforcement discount, and technically, the Coast Guard is the only branch of the military with law enforcement authority. If you take 30 seconds to explain this to Chipotle, you can get 50% off your order.
  2. Luxury credit cards come with lots of perks, including free access to airport lounges with free drinks and food, complimentary flight upgrades, and more. However, these credit cards also come with a $100- $500 annual fee. For AMEX, the fees for these cards are waived for military members, meaning you can earn awesome points, hang out in airport lounges, and earn exclusive discounts without paying a fee.
  3. Access to websites like GOVX and other military discount stores. They provide cheap prices for a variety of products. Many brand name companies offer 20%-30% discounts on their products for military members, including Oakley and RayBan. You also earn access to the Coast Guard Exchange website, which does not charge tax on its products.
  4. Military discounts for cruises, vacation packages, and more. Self-explanatory.
  5. Lots of airlines allow military to check bags for free. Also, you’ll be upgraded to TSA precheck, making getting through security much faster and easier.

There are tons of other financial military perks for being in the military, but many of the best perks have nothing to do with money. For me, having a network of amazing friends and coworkers is the best part of attending a service academy. The skills, wisdom, and experiences you gain from being at a service academy or in the military are great too. Do your full research on all the benefits military members receive, as these are only the tip of the iceberg.

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What is Gangway?

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2022) Permanent link
Jack Brunswick

Gangway is a privilege that 1/c cadets earn during their last semester at the Academy, usually in April or May. This privilege allows 1/c cadets to leave campus whenever they would like, as long as they are not absent from military obligations. This includes morning formations, meals, trainings, and classes. Prior to earning gangway, 1/c cadets can only leave from the following times: Thursday 4pm-10pm, Friday 4pm-11:59pm, Saturday 10am- Sunday 10pm. The hours for underclass are different, as other bloggers have already likely explained how liberty for cadets works. So far, I haven’t really used my gangway. I feel like I’ve already built a routine over the year and don’t find it necessary to go out on a Monday or Tuesday. It is really nice to have the freedom to go surfing in Rhode Island or go golfing during the day when I want to. That’s a huge change I’ve seen in myself now versus when I was a highschooler- I used to be very sporadic with my activities, daily life, and goals. Now, I feel like I follow a strict routine (in a good way), work towards specific goals, and am efficient with my time. I believe although it has been difficult at times, the Academy has taught me to be more productive, efficient, and effective in the way I live my life. Now that I have a lot more freedom for these next two months, I value the time I have, what I do with it, and to make smart decisions. Without the discipline and difficult times of being at the Academy the past three years, I might be wasting my time instead by drinking, partying, watching TV, playing video games, or whatever it may be. The Academy teaches you to value your free time, because often it takes it from you and only gives you what is leftover.

Lessons to takeaway: take advantage of your free time! Do something productive like reading a book, working out, or achieving whatever goal you have. Also, something important to take away from this post is that I had no idea what gangway was or what liberty was prior to coming to the Academy. You don’t know what you don’t know. Take time to ask questions, schedule a tour with admissions, and ask more questions. A lot of high schoolers come to a service academy or ROTC and don’t realize what they are getting themselves into, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but more information is better than less.

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Billet Night Excitement

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2022) Permanent link
Elizabeth Carter

I write today from the confines of my room, as a snowstorm closed base! Thankfully this means that there were no classes today, not even the virtual kind. Today has been a well-needed reprieve from the hustle and bustle of a typical spring semester. The major difference this spring semester is (and you probably guessed it) billet night! The long-awaited night is less than a week away, and the excitement, anxiety, and energy is tangible within Chase Hall. We are also steadily working through midterms, in the form of tests, papers, presentations, and speeches. I can certainly feel the stress and pressure amounting, as the finish line is just within sight.

Even though it feels like a sprint towards the finish line, my personal running career has come to an end. I made the decision to not compete for Outdoor Track and Field, and really focus on my last few months with friends and academics. The decision was not an easy one to make, as this sport has carried me through the past four years at the Academy. My Mom and Dad both ran for the Coast Guard Academy Cross Country and Track and Field teams, so the conclusion of my career felt more meaningful than I had anticipated. I have truly dreamt of running for CGA since I was about eight years old, when I first visited the Academy with my parents for their class reunion, and ran a lap around the lower field track. My final race was a 5k at the Springfield Indoor Track Invite, and I burst into tears as soon as I crossed the finish line, simply overcome with emotion.

I have a feeling that many more emotional events are about to take place, not only for me, but for my friends and family as graduation steadily approaches. This journey has been challenging, and yet the most rewarding experience of my entire life. And this is just the beginning of it! Next Thursday I will know my new home, and start my own moving process, of which I am all too familiar. My childhood consisted of six moves, and seven houses, so this will be a walk in the park! I won’t get into the specifics of my billet list, as just the thought of it gets my heart racing. I simply know that wherever I go, I will be ecstatic, jumping for joy on that stage.

I plan on concluding my Blog Club journey with this post, and as I sign off for the last time, I hope that everyone who has followed my journey got a little something out of it. If I can be of any help in the future, please do not hesitate to reach out. As much as the Academy has challenged me, I love it for the people and experiences it has brought into my life. Good luck to the Class of 2026 and all those interested in joining the Corps!

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How to Get Into the U.S. Service Academies

(Choosing the Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2022) Permanent link
Erin Edwards

The semester is almost over and we have one more to go before 1/c Edwards joins the fleet. It has been jam-packed with a lot of activities, so far, but who better to share Admissions tips than a cadet who has been through it all? Here are a few application tips from 1/c Edwards!


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Focusing On My Final Memories

(Extracurricular and Faith-Based Involvement, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2022) Permanent link
Elizabeth Carter

Hello readers! I write this on more of a bittersweet note. I have successfully completed my final cross country season, after eight years of running the sport. When I look back at those four seasons at the Academy, and consider everything that has happened, I smile fondly. I can remember trying to be recruited from high school, and my times did not quite make the cut. I still tried out for the team, and four years later I am team captain. I can confidently say that being team captain will always hold a special place in my heart, over any sort of command or leadership within the barracks. Fall in New England will always mean 6ks at Harkness Park, cider mill runs to Clyde’s, and long runs through orange, red, and yellow leaves. My mother came up to watch one of my final races, and it was heartwarming to hear her stories and traditions from running on the team almost 30 years ago. This sport has always meant more to me than anything, and I accredit it with getting me through some of the hardest times at the Academy. For whoever is reading this, and may be interested in the team, please consider it. This sport has given me some of my best friends here, and we are a family.

Although cross country season is over, there is still work to do with Track and Field! I am beyond excited to hit the ground running for the indoor season and wrap up my running career at the Academy before commissioning. It is absolutely insane to think this is the final stretch. Even looking back on some of my older blogs bring back many memories of times long past. My days at the Academy are numbered, as I am often reminded by the countdown I keep on my whiteboard. It has become a sort of well -known thing around here, seeing as I live in a very congested passageway. Apparently, some of the Company Officers have taken a liking to my countdown as well, and continuously talk about their excitement for graduation (184 days!).

I know these final months will fly by, and I am trying my hardest to keep focused, get work done, and focus on my memories here while they still last. I don’t anticipate writing another blog before Thanksgiving and Christmas, so in the meantime, Happy Holidays, and good luck to all those applying early action! Please reach out if you have any questions!!

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Parents Weekend

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2022) Permanent link
Erin Edwards

Get an inside glimpse of parents weekend, not only form a cadet perspective, but from a parent’s perspective. 1/c Edwards and her parents take you around campus for this fall tradition at the Academy.


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A Productive, Fun and Rewarding Summer

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2022) Permanent link
Jack Brunswick

This summer for me was productive, fun, and rewarding. I first spent six weeks with the Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT) in Virginia. There, I spent many days at the range shooting pistol, rifles, and snipers. I often played as an opposing force in the shoot house, where myself and the other cadets would be bad guys with guns and the MSRT teams would come in and clear the rooms to either arrest or subdue us. Even though we knew they were coming and that both teams used paintball ammunition, it was stressful and intense. I spent a week with the precision marksman team, where we built ghillie suits, hides, and temporary command posts in the woods using camouflage and our environment. All in all, I learned a lot about Coast Guard special forces and the experience made me more interested in joining the special forces community.

The second half of my summer was in Key West on a fast response cutter (FRC). I spent a week or so on the Isaac Mayo, Kathleen Moore, Glen Harris, and Charles David Junior (all FRCs). I got to see four different units of people complete the same mission on the same platform, which was useful to decide how I want my first unit’s culture to be like. I saw four different ways of problem solving, what a good officer looks like, what a bad officer looks like, and four different team dynamics. It taught me that although the Coast Guard has lots of policy and rules, the way we do things is not set in stone. There is lots of room as an Ensign to improve or hurt the team culture at a unit. Mission wise, we spent a lot of time rescuing migrants and sending them back to Cuba. I got to practice on my Spanish skills and speaking to migrants inspired me to get better at Spanish speaking and listening. After being underway, the last week in Key West I spent at the Sector, where I got to see what they do in the command sector, in the response division, and in the prevention division. My goal for the summer was to see and experience as much as possible, which I accomplished. I met lots of amazing officers and enlisted, made new mentors, met up with old teammates, and made lots of new friends. The Coast Guard is a small service- my first day in Key West I ran into old shipmates from my 3/c summer experience. Going into my senior year, I am still unsure about where I want to go, but regardless, every single billet class of 22 gets is an amazing opportunity that few people are given.

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