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Second Class Summer

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2023) Permanent link
Jenna Bradberry

Hello all!

This summer was by far one of my favorites that I have had! As a 2/c, I had three weeks of leave right after the spring semester ended. I went home to Indiana to visit family and friends and just relax after a long semester. When I came back, I was thrown right into the summer session comprised of 11 more weeks, doing something different each week! This is what made the summer so fun and unique. These weeks consisted of the Mid-Cadet Transition Course, Rules of the Road and Test, Cyber, Prep (for swab summer), T-Boats, CATP (Aviation Program), Range, Coastal Sail, and 3 weeks of CADRE SUMMER. Cadre summer was some of the most rewarding, tiring, and fun weeks I have ever had in my life. It truly is such an amazing experience to be able to take full responsibility for the training of swabs and watch them grow under your care as you train them. As a phase 2 cadre, I had the opportunity to lead the swabs to the finish line and end of swab summer, which was amazing to say the least. Next to cadre, I had a lot of fun during range week as I had the chance to qualify on the pistol. I also loved, loved, LOVED, the aviation program. For one week I got to spend time at Air Station Cape Cod and experience everything about flight. I got to fly (literally fly) a CASA and hang out the back as they did a drop flight as well. This was such a cool experience! I wanted to fly before, but this really made me want to fly even more that’s for sure! If you would like to know more or any specifics about my summer or cadet life in general, feel free to contact me! The summers are by far the best here at USCGA!

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Bye-bye Boss! The End of an Era

(Extracurricular and Faith-Based Involvement, Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2023) Permanent link
Joshua Orbe

The last few weeks of the school year were full of emotion. It was a time of anxiety, relief, celebration and triumph for those graduating. It was time to say goodbye, pass the torch, and accept and commit to new responsibilities.

It is hard to believe that I am nearing the halfway point of my time as a cadet! I vividly remember all the nerves and excitement I felt on the days leading up to swab summer. Two years went by so fast, and now, I am a second class cadet. I heard that this summer, things are about to get interesting. But before that, the corps got to go away on a well-deserved break. One of my first and closest friends from the Academy brought me home to Maryland. I also paid my sponsor brother, who has been with me on this journey since day one, a visit to New Jersey. Lastly, my beloved mentor, a graduating Filipino international cadet, invited me to join him in Denver for one last adventure together here in the States.

I had meant to visit my roommate’s home for more than a year, but a global pandemic complicated those plans out of nowhere. When I arrived after a long but fun road trip, I couldn’t have asked for a better welcome. My roommate’s family took me in as one of their own and made me feel at home. I had a great time, and I could see how they had raised such a great son. From the trips, family traditions, great food, and even their adorable doggo, their family will forever hold a special place in my heart. I only hope to return the favor one day and be their tour guide around the Philippines.

I was sad when I had to leave, but I still have two more years here, and my roommate and I agreed to room together again! After Maryland, I took the train to my sponsor brother’s house in New Jersey. They are like my second family. We did not stay long and hit the road not soon after. We were going to attend an after-graduation party for our Filipino upperclassmen. After hundreds of songs and taking the wrong exits more than a few times, we made it to our sponsor mom’s house just in time to see our “boss” go up on stage with President Biden.

A few hours later, the party was in full swing. Our sponsor family made us a banquet of all my favorite meals from home. Many people came, Boss’s roommate from Puerto Rico and his family, my sponsor father’s family, and officers from the Philippine Coast Guard, some of them my future bosses.

I went back to New Jersey, and I went on the next part of my journey: Denver! It was my first time being West. What immediately struck me was the picturesque landscapes, soaring peaks, and vast grasslands. I stayed with my mentor/sponsor brother, whom we call Boss and his mom. The first thing we did was watch a John Williams tribute in Red Rocks Amphitheater. Those were some of the most breathtaking views I had seen. Our party then went hiking/picture taking at the hotel where they shot “The Shining.” The next evening was for the boys. Game 2 of the Denver Nuggets vs. Portland Trail Blazers playoff series was on in town. Boss and I had fun. I could finally check watching an NBA game off my bucket list. The next stop on our list was Mount Rushmore. Getting there involved a long drive. My job was to keep Boss entertained and awake. We played music the entire time when we had service. The drive up to South Dakota was beautiful but staring at endless seas of grass proved to be a challenge. At least we saw the occasional tumbleweed.

From there, we paid a visit to one of our sister schools, the U.S. Air Force Academy. What immediately struck me was the size of the campus. The campus sits in a valley with mountain peaks surrounding it. It is a massive campus with around 18,000 acres of space. The buildings were modern and futuristic looking even.

We finished our trip at an amusement park. It was a fun day from start to finish. I almost got held up at the gate. Thankfully, I was able to buy a ticket by the time it was my turn in line. It was hot that day, but Boss and I thought it would be good to wear our matching Space Force hoodies. It was worth it in the end; we were able to take some great pictures. We also saw a fistfight happen a few feet from us. Thankfully, people broke it up before any got seriously hurt.

Looking back on the three weeks of summer, I could say that I spent my time wisely. I spent it with my best friends, my second family here. I look forward to more fun times and a happy reunion with my seniors who graduated before me.

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MSTP at Sector New York

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2023) Permanent link
Teegan Cordova

The Coast Guard is a lot like fifteen agencies in a trench coat. Conducting operations from drug interdiction to environmental protection, the service demonstrates versatility on the daily. Afloat operations comprise most cadet experiences in the fleet; during 3/c (sophomore) summer, cadets go underway on the tall ship Eagle for five to six weeks and to a small boat station or cutter for another five to six weeks, and 1/c (seniors) often spend a full twelve weeks on a cutter. While invaluable, those afloat experiences represent only a portion of available opportunities in the Coast Guard. If any of the myriad other officer subspecialties interest you, a handful of programs at the Academy introduce cadets to alternative career paths.

One such opportunity, the Marine Safety Training Program (MSTP), acquaints rising 2/c (cadets going into their junior year) with prevention ashore over the course of a week. Prevention ashore involves vessel and container inspections, investigations, port security, and marine safety engineering. In June, I attended MSTP at Sector New York on Staten Island with three other cadets. We focused on marine inspections, shadowing junior officers and enlisted personnel looking at cargo ships, oil tankers, small passenger vessels, tugboats, and more. A 2020 Academy graduate graciously taught us through the week. Her professionality interacting with the captains and crew of vessels and her familiarity with the Code of Federal Regulations astounded me. The junior officers at sector also shared considerable camaraderie and cooperated to get qualified. The workplace climate seemed amazing. My impression is that prevention ashore is an unparalleled opportunity for anyone looking for a fulfilling and challenging career in the Coast Guard with the opportunity for a good work-life balance. Unlike many afloat billets, officers at sector go home every evening (and the career also benefits those prone to seasickness). Beyond professional development, the experience also impressed me with the diverse work of the service and the importance of prevention in saving lives; the Coast Guard is famous for search and rescue, but all its work serves and protects mariners and the American people. If you attend the Academy, I recommend you avail yourself of as many opportunities to explore distinct career paths as possible.

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Eagle

(Class of 2023, Eagle) Permanent link
Teegan Cordova

I love Eagle. I absolutely adore the Coast Guard’s 295-foot, barque class tall ship – meaning, a sailing ship with three masts, two of which have square sails, while the third is fore-and-aft rigged. Every officer commissioned into the service since the 1940s has sailed on it, and I glow with pride to have spent even a limited time working on the one-of-a-kind boat. If you are planning on attending the Academy, I would recommend that you approach the Eagle experience with an open mind. There may be nothing else quite like Eagle in the rest of the Coast Guard, but that truth makes time spent on the boat truly a unique opportunity.

There are two tall ships in the U.S. military: USCGC Eagle and the USS Constitution. Given the Constitution’s advanced age (it was commissioned by George Washington before the War of 1812!), Eagle is the only active-duty tall ship in the American seagoing services. Many Coast Guard and Academy practices are steeped in what the CGA mission refers to as “the sea and its lore,” traditions that date back to the golden age of sail, when vessels like Constitution and Eagle made up the Navy and Revenue Cutter Service, the precursor of the modern Coast Guard. Being on Eagle gives context for many customs practiced at the Academy. I also love the feeling of, pre-COVID, giving tours to little kids excited about the “pirate ship” ... which isn’t historically accurate, but it’s always great to see the next generation delighted about boats.

And I saved my favorite part about Eagle for last: the camaraderie. Even if sailing isn’t your jam, it’s a great bonding opportunity. Over Swab Summer, your class will be broken into three groups for Eagle, and over 3/c summer, there are two phases. You’ll be on the boat with a third to a half of your class at any given time. Being on a 295-foot boat with that many people brings its own challenges, but it’s certainly a catalyst for team building. Furthermore, you’ll be assigned to a smaller division to stand watch, and people from my Eagle divos are close friends to this day. Experiences like seeing the milky way at 4 AM, watching dolphins dance in the bow waves, and blasting Elton John while washing dishes are some of my most cherished memories as a cadet, and I’m so thankful for the people I got to share them with. I hope that, like me, you’ll love Eagle, but no matter what, please be openminded to the adventure.

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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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She Kills Monsters

(Extracurricular and Faith-Based Involvement, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2023) Permanent link
Teegan Cordova

Last semester, a friend texted me, no context, “Do you want to be an evil cheerleader?” Of course, I said yes. It turns out she was talking about the spring play. This year, the Drama Club put on She Kills Monsters, a 2011 play by Qui Nguyen about a girl who loses her family in a car crash and starts playing Dungeons and Dragons to connect with memories of her sister. It’s a sweet story about love and acceptance, and our leads absolutely knocked it out of the park.

For theater at the Academy, there’s usually a fall play, entirely cadet-run, and a spring musical, put together by a fantastic team of people including Academy/Alumni Center staff and New London community members. Last February I was in the chorus for the musical, and I can honestly say it was the most fun I had that semester. Both productions count as a sports credit.

This year, because of COVID, there was no spring musical. The play happened the last weekend of February and was streamed online in addition to having a live, socially distanced audience in Leamy Hall. Even though we had to adapt to be COVID-safe, it was absolutely worth it all to hear that people like it.

I didn’t act before coming to the Academy. I was involved with theater behind-the-scenes as part of the band for my high school’s musicals, but previous experience isn’t needed to be a part of Drama Club. If you’ve ever wanted to try out acting, it’s an awesome opportunity! For this production, we also had a 4/c student director, and she was amazing both for theatrical insight and managing logistics. You don’t have to be on stage to get involved with theater; you can direct or be a part of the tech/makeup team. One of the things I like best about the Academy is that, as such a small school, it’s possible to walk onto a lot of teams and activities. Theater is no exception!

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Mock Trial

(Extracurricular and Faith-Based Involvement, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2023) Permanent link
Teegan Cordova

I joined the mock trial team this semester. The Coast Guard has many opportunities for grad school after the Academy, including law school, which is a possibility I’ve recently begun to consider. What is less well-known are the ways to prepare for grad school as a cadet or to explore what interests you might want to pursue in further education. Mock trial is a fantastic opportunity to help solidify your future goals.

Since this was my first year, I participated as a witness. This semester, the team is ten people: six lawyers, three witnesses, and one alternate. The lawyers are divided into two teams, the defense and prosecution. Each side prepares a case based on a packet and the help of coaches. Our coach, LT Fritz, is a new instructor at the Academy this year. He began his career as a lawyer with the Marines but went to flight school to become a helicopter pilot. He then commissioned into the Coast Guard as a pilot and eventually returned to the law. He has a wealth of knowledge in both aviation and litigation. I hope that, as a government major, I have the opportunity to take one of his classes in the future.

Ordinarily, the team starts practicing at the start of the fall semester. This year, because of complications related to COVID, we began in January, so we elected not to participate in competition because of logistical and time constraints. In a normal year, the Academy team travels to Yale University to compete, giving participating cadets the chance to get off-base and network with like-minded college students. A handful of our team had participated in mock trial or moot court competitions in high school, but experience is not a requirement to join. I walked onto the team with no clue what I was doing and still had a blast. If you’re interested, I would highly recommend seeking out the club at the activities fair at the Academy.

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My Other Home

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2023) Permanent link
Joshua Orbe

Going home for winter break, half a world away, I was able to momentarily forget all about my responsibilities as a cadet.

After recharging my batteries and bonding with my family, I came back to the U.S. with excitement for the future. I was looking forward to the snow, having new classes and a new roommate.

I took a different route back to the U.S. this time. I had a stopover in Incheon. I tried to maximize the five-hour period I was given in this new and beautiful country, taking in as much of Korea as I could from inside the terminal. I was walking non-stop, checking out all the shops and looking at all the people. I was amazed by how high-tech the facilities were. The people were also some of the friendliest I’ve met. I’ve always been amazed by Korean music, food, history, and culture and I hope to return one day when everything is a bit more stable. Five hours isn’t enough!

I came back a little later than my classmates because of some delays but my roommate was kind enough to set up my side of the room for me. He was my first ever roommate at the Academy and one of my best friends here. Funny enough, the room we moved into was the room where we first met. We even sleep on the same sides of the room we did as swabs!

As of writing this (early February), classes have been going fine. After taking these last few math and science classes, I am set to take a lot of political and writing classes. COVID restrictions are what they are. Athletics and working out hasn’t slowed down significantly. The Academy is doing its best with the current situation. When housing the people that had to be quarantined became an issue, the Academy leadership quickly came up with and implemented a solution. None of us could have prepared for as big a challenge as COVID. Vaccinations are slowly being distributed and I hope and pray that the end is in sight.

In other news, last week, we had 10 inches of snow. It’s been forever since the last time I saw that much snow. Myself and another one of my friends commandeered an upperclassman’s surfboard and rode down the hill. We were headed straight for a tree but we ejected (stylishly) at the last second. Good instincts if you ask me. But I don’t want to be a pilot. I’m more of a cutter guy myself. Until next time!

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