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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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Finding the Right Balance

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2023) Permanent link
Banks Evans

Spending time with family over the holidays was such a much needed and relaxing break from the Academy even with the restrictions caused by COVID-19. Luckily, I was able to golf with friends and play a little tennis. My family also got a new puppy, so I took my dogs for more walks in the time being at home than ever to try to tire them out so they wouldn’t be so crazy in the house.

Unfortunately, the time came where I had to say goodbye to my friends and family and head back to the Academy. For some reason I had never felt so down to leave home and I think it’s because I knew we would have what’s called a restriction of movement (aka ROM) here and it keeps everyone from being near each other. It stunk for the first couple weeks to not hang out with friends but I knew it was for all the right reasons. On a different note, when cadets return from winter break, we usually have a week to get ready for the spring semester. I was totally fooled and realized school started 2 days after I got back! So, I jumped right into all these new classes and just had to put my head down to figure out how I was going to tackle each day of the week. When I see my new schedule I like to figure out how every hour of the day is going to be spent so I can try to have some kind of relaxation to end the day. One of the biggest stress relievers for me is to go on off-base runs because I can run by houses and see families and dogs and really just the world and it reminds myself of why I came to the Academy. It’s to give back for everything I’ve been given. Life here can get hectic and stressful, but finding things you enjoy and relying on your friends really does make the difference.

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Reunions

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

After a tumultuous semester at the Academy, going home felt surreal. I hadn’t been home since the pandemic broke out in February. Nine months later, my long-awaited homecoming would soon be reality, and I couldn’t wait to see my family again. However, I knew that this year’s homecoming would not be like the last year. I wondered how much my country was changed by the pandemic.

Before leaving, I spent Thanksgiving at my sponsor brother’s house in New Jersey. There, I reacquainted myself with Filipino food. After relaxing for a few days, Tito (uncle) was kind enough to drive me to New York.

Seeing GCT and the Empire State building again made me miss the old days. The wonder of being in the Big Apple never gets old to me. Tito dropped me off at JFK airport and 15 hours and five movies later, I was in Manila. I can’t describe how happy I was to be back home. My dad picked me up at the airport and dropped me off at a hotel for my quarantine while waiting for my COVID test results so I could be cleared for travel.

One difference that I noticed immediately was how seriously the Philippines was taking the pandemic. Everyone wore masks. Everyone wore face shields too. Every mall, store, and restaurant had separate contact tracing sheets that you had to sign in at before being granted entry. Alcohol stations for your hands and the bottoms of your shoes were everywhere. There were people enforcing social distancing. It was reassuring to see that my countrymen seemed to understand the dangers of the virus and had even somewhat adjusted to the new normal.

When I was cleared to go, my dad took me back to our home province of Bataan and I was reunited with my mom and sister. They introduced me to the new family pets, a fish named Edward and a black lab named Rocco. We also bought a couple of houses in my absence. We moved out of our old house in Cavite and transferred our stuff to Manila. My parents showed me the family house being built in Tagaytay, where I will one day live once I graduate from CGA. Besides that, our family went all over. We went Christmas shopping in a nearby province known for its cheap yet quality products. We spent a weekend on a remote island resort, having fun like the world was normal again. Also, I finally bought mom that karaoke machine I promised her. On Christmas day, we wore matching pajamas. For the New Year, we made a feast. All of us were stuffed, even the dog!

My vacation went by so fast. We did so much and I thank God for giving me the chance to go home. Saying goodbye was bittersweet. I am excited for the next time I get to go home but for now, I have a whole new semester and 2/c year to look forward to.

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Cadet Music

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

I’ve played guitar since I was eight, so music has always been an influential part of my life. My sophomore year of high school, I joined the jazz band, and to this day, the people I’ve met through music are some of my best friends. When I received an appointment to the Academy in 2019, I worried that I would have to give up playing in a college jazz band to pursue a career in the Coast Guard. Thankfully, that has not been the case.

The Academy jazz band is directed by Mr. Frenkel, a fantastic warrant officer who also works with the Windjammers drum and bugle corps. Band helped me survive 4/c year. A few low-key hours of playing music every week was a relief from military training and academics, and it gave me a steadfast community of friends and mentors.

During the fall 2020 semester, after an initial quarantine and with continued surveillance testing, the corps was able to meet in-person for socially distanced activities. Jazz band moved from the basement room we used to share with the Coast Guard Band to Leamy ballroom, allowing for sufficient spacing between cadets to prevent virus transmission (and giving us access to the disco ball). Although 3/c year is generally less stressful than 4/c year because there are fewer military obligations, the changes necessitated by COVID created an uncertain environment, and I found the same solace in band last semester that I did fresh out of Swab Summer. We were even able to record about 20 minutes of Christmas songs that I could send to my grandparents in Colorado. Having just a touch of something so normal made all the difference.

In addition to the jazz band, the Academy has a concert band (that plays with Connecticut College across the street in non-COVID times), several vocal ensembles, a recently minted orchestra club, and the Windjammers marching band (and dance team!). If you like music but don’t want to be part of a structured group, there’s an annual talent show, and you can route a special request through your company officer to keep almost any instrument in your room--both my roommate and I have a guitar, and I know of at least two cellos in our company. Even if music isn’t your jam, I would highly recommend that you get involved with an extracurricular at the Academy. There are so many ways to find likeminded people and keep doing the things you love.

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