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Cadet Blogs

Winter Leave and Returning to the CGA

(Just for Fun, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2020, Mathematics) Permanent link
Francesca Farlow

Winter leave, Mid-year Administrative Processing (MAP) week, and the first day of the new semester are officially over and the academic year is back in swing. Over winter leave, I went home and saw my younger sister and parents, caught up with friends from high school, and spent a lot time at the American Airlines Center in Dallas watching the Dallas Stars play, which is probably one of the things I miss most about home. The day after Christmas my family traveled to Florida (about two hours south of Tampa) to visit my grandparents, aunt, uncles, and cousins from both my mom and dad’s sides. We celebrated Christmas again, my grandpa’s 85th birthday, competed in a 5-mile run, and rung in 2019. I also spent days on the beach soaking in the sun knowing soon I would be back here in Connecticut where you can’t leave Chase Hall with anything less than long sleeves, hats, gloves, and boots. When we returned to Dallas, we bought my mom a new car, celebrated her birthday, and took down all of our house decorations from Christmas. Leaving home is always hard, but I knew I’d be home with half of second semester under my belt in just two short months.

During MAP week I had to change rooms and roommates, take the Physical Fitness Exam, ensure my schedule was correct for the semester, purchase books, and prepare my room for inspection. When the week was finally over my friends and I attended the CGA hockey game at Connecticut College and enjoyed some food off base. The first couple days of school have been long, but eventually you get back in the swing of it all. Luckily, this weekend is already Martin Luther King Day which means we will not have class on Monday. I am meeting my aunt and uncle in New York City to see a musical and spend time together. This will be the third time my aunt and uncle have made this trip on MLK Weekend, it is our annual tradition and is a great way to relieve some of the back-to-school stress.

This semester I am enrolled in five core classes: Principles of Electronic Communication Systems, Mathematical Statistics, Probability Models, Criminal Justice, and Differential Equations. In addition, I am taking a Conversational Spanish class that meets once a week to continue to improve my fluency. I am looking forward to this semester and my final summer at the Academy.

MORE ABOUT FRANCESCA

4/c Year Survival Guide

(Academics, Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2021) Permanent link
Malia Haskovec

It is tough being at the bottom of the academic class food chain 4/c year. All the clocks, orderlies, cleaning, duty, squaring, and bracing up gets tiresome quickly. In addition, you have your standard cadet obligations of military training, classes, room and uniform standards, managing sports, and getting sufficient food and sleep. It can all be stressful, but these busy schedules make each and every day at school its own rewarding experience. To help ease the transition from civilian life into cadet life, I’ve compiled a list of some tips and tricks that have helped me and my classmates make it through our 4/c year.

  • Utilize your trunk and the class cages, it helps keep your room decluttered during room inspections.
  • Keep an extra of each uniform item as an “inspection pair,” e.g., leathers, covers, trop shirts, etc.
  • Get off base as much as possible through community service events, sports, weekend liberty, or off-base runs!
  • Be engaged during classes and talk to your teachers and academic advisor often. They are some of your biggest supporters at the Academy.
  • Also, don’t be afraid to talk to upper-class and your company officer and chief. They are all here to help you and ensure your success.
  • Join a club or affinity council! There are so many cool ones like Rugby Club, Glee, Asian Pacific-American Council, Spectrum, Genesis, Aviation Club, etc.
  • Take advantage of your personal shelf. Make it yours! Add some morale to the bleak white walls of the Chase Hall rooms.
  • Finally, know and understand that it is okay to fail. We all come from solid academic and athletic backgrounds where we were no strangers to success. The Academy is tailored to challenge us and sometimes failure is inevitable. Although it may be okay to fail, it is not okay to quit. Keep your head up, trust the process, and don’t be afraid to seek help!
MORE ABOUT MALIA

Swab Summer: Humility, Commitment and Teamwork

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2021) Permanent link
Jasmine Rodriguez

Swab Summer is not meant to be easy, whether you consider the incoming civilian students powering through their transition into the military or the cadre forging their leadership skills. I remember my Swab Summer vividly. I had proud moments, and I had moments of disappointment and doubt. So, too, did every other member of my class, but we made it through together.

As a prior-enlisted member, I was met with Swab Summer’s unique challenges compared to basic training at Cape May. Though the core values are the same, the mission and model are different. Humility, commitment, and complete reliance on teamwork are, perhaps, the main lessons of Swab Summer ‒ for both leaders and followers.

As a scholar who attended Marion Military Institute, I appreciated every minute and mile of preparation with my classmates. Any spare moment not spent bettering myself or others, mentally, physically, and spiritually, was time wasted.

Finally, as a 2012 participant of the Academy Introduction Mission program otherwise known as AIM, I reflect again on commitment and teamwork. I still remember when my arms were failing during a static hold of our water bottles, and my peer squared to face me. She held her arms out beneath my own and held mine up, simultaneously teaching me new facets of humility, self-sacrifice, and mental strength. The friendships I built through all my trainings are strong, and they support me personally and privately. This is not a journey one can complete alone. Each training program – be it AIM, Cape May basic training, Coast Guard Academy Scholars, or Swab Summer – is a necessary challenge designed to prepare a balanced, confident Coast Guard team.

MORE ABOUT JASMINE

We've Got Your Back

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Darden Purrington

Dear Class of 2022,

We’ve got your back.

As Day One approaches, I’m sure many of you are nervous. So was I…so am I.

I know I speak for my class, the great Class of 2020, when I say we are ready.

We are imperfect and human. We will make mistakes, just like our Swabs. We are dedicated to, and proud of, this institution and the Coast Guard that stands behind it. We have trained and waited two long years for this. Cadre Summer, the epitome of cadet training. We are learning, just like 2022, how to be officers in the World’s Best Coast Guard ‒ we are simply two years further down the road.

If there is one thing I want you to understand it is that 2020 is full of people. That may seem silly to many of you now, but come mid-July, you’ll have long forgotten. Every cadre will seem like a god or demon or some mythical creature who subsists on energy drinks and sleepless nights. We won’t seem like people. Some of us may seem like we don’t care about you, or worse, don’t like you. What you won’t see are the conversations with our roommates after you’ve gone to sleep about how we can get you through just another month, or another week, or another day of training. Because you are our swabs.

My class will run you, and drill you, and quiz you until you think there’s nothing left to give ‒ but give more. We will push you; some of you will cry, wake up exhausted, sit bolt upright at the drop of a needle in the middle of the night, and some of you will want to quit ‒ don’t. You have more in you and you are better than that. Stick with it. Give more.

You are our swabs and if one day you wake up and can’t do it for yourself anymore, do it for us. Do it for your shipmates, because they need you more than they will admit, perhaps more than even they know.

You wouldn’t be coming here if you didn’t belong here. We believe in you, all you have to do is prove us right.

Class of 2022, we’ve got your back.

Perseverance

(Choosing the Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2021) Permanent link
Jasmine Rodriguez

I am 4/c Jasmine Rodriguez. My family followed my father’s Marine Corps career back and forth across the country to both coasts, which exposed me to a multitude of different cultures and lifestyles, all the while maintaining military standards and pride. My patriotism is founded in my parents’ examples of service to country and in my young memories of the impact of 9/11. Mixed with a love for the sea, I looked to service academies for an environment that would advance my education and my personal interests – the Coast Guard Academy was a perfect fit. After four applications, an enlistment in the Coast Guard, and a year preparing at Marion Military Institute through the Academy’s Scholars program, I finally made it. I have taken nearly every opportunity the Coast Guard Academy has to offer, and I want to share these amazing experiences with anyone even slightly considering a military academy. I love hearing others’ stories, and I love to write and share mine.

I strongly believe that there should be more enlisted members coming to the Academy – their experiences in Cape May and in the fleet better prepare them for the challenges of the school year and of the eventual challenges faced by our junior officers in connecting the wardroom to the chief’s mess. Last year, the Scholars program took more enlisted members than usual, but we lost some of our companions along the way. I believe if the Academy were advertised more accurately and efficiently to the enlisted corps that more members would be interested in taking on this great and rewarding challenge. I want to write to inspire, encourage, and persuade. I have attended almost every program CGA offers to civilians of all ages in an effort to network and make myself known. I spent thirteen years of my life wanting the Coast Guard Academy and five earning it. Now I’m here, and I want to share with as many people as possible exactly why it is the best service academy, the best school, and the best Coast Guard in the world.

Why Blogs?

(Choosing the Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2021) Permanent link
Katherine Doty

The Cadet Blog program was very influential in my decision to both apply to the Coast Guard Academy, and my decision to accept my appointment. Because very few people from my high school have ever attended a service academy, I had little exposure to the Coast Guard or service academies in general. Through the Cadet Blog program, I gained insight into how cadets felt about their experience here and life at the Academy.

That being said, I love it here so far! Yes, Swab Summer was challenging, but I learned so much about myself and how important teamwork is. Nothing over Swab Summer was impossible; rather, you just needed to put in 100% effort 100% of the time. I fell short and failed many times, but I learned how to overcome my failures and grow as both a person and a leader. The transition from Swab Summer to the academic year has been interesting, to say the least. I have enjoyed my classes so far and have gotten used to the workload. I know that there will be many challenges in the future, but they will shape me into a better leader and ultimately an officer in the United States Coast Guard. With my friends by my side, and a positive attitude, I am confident that fourth class year will be amazing!

As always, feel free to email me and GO BEARS!!

MORE ABOUT KATHERINE

Dear Class of 2021 Parent

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Francesca Farlow

June 26, 2017 will now always mark a special place in your heart. Maybe not quite like a birthday or anniversary, but when you see it on the calendar it will make you smile, at least for a second. It was the day your child made the biggest commitment thus far in their lives, and whether you realize it now or later, you made a commitment too, and you became part of the Coast Guard family. Swab Summer is tough, but your child will make it through and then fourth class year will be full of ups and downs, learning experiences, and most importantly lifelong bonds and memories. Before you know it, your swab turned third class cadet will be sitting here writing a letter to the Class of 2022 parents, wondering where their first year of college went and how their second summer is almost complete. Between now and then, there will be good days and bad days, days they are sure they will make it and days they are unsure how they made it this far. When I look back on my fourth class year, I struggle to remember the negative events, and although it may not seem like it, in a year your 3/c cadet will do the same. They will think back to Day One, killing a calculus test, a weekend full of adventures with friends in NYC, coming home for the first time, their first practice or game as a collegiate athlete, passing boards, and earning carry-on and everything else will fade away.

Fourth class year is hectic, even on a slow day. Bear (no pun intended) with your cadet as they figure out their schedule and when they have time to talk and when they can’t. If they say they need to write a paper, or they need to prep a uniform, they have a three hour practice, they need to wax their floor, or attend CAAP, I promise those are all things that need to be done, sometimes all in one day after attending a full day of classes. Just tell them to breathe and that when all those things are complete you will still be around. If they mention trying a new sport or joining a club, encourage them, even if you don’t know anything about it, because distractions from Academy life are key to survival. Also, encourage them to take adventures on long weekends; it will give them something to look forward to. Tell them to go to NYC or Boston, if nothing else it is worth it to be able to wear civilian clothes and feel like a person instead of a cadet, even if it is just for three days.

Finally, as a cadet there is only so much I can say about being the parent of a cadet, so my own parents would tell you that the Academy experience in general, and fourth class year in particular, is your child’s experience. Your son or daughter, prior to Day One, probably did not fail at much, so it will be difficult to listen to their struggles—and they will struggle, get knocked down, fail, be challenged and pushed—perhaps to points they did not know they had. Despite the temptation, allow them to tackle this challenge on their own terms. Support them on this journey, but always know that you cannot take the journey for them. Remind them to laugh—to never lose their sense of humor. Above all, be proud of the fact that your son or daughter has answered the call to service; raised their right hand and taken an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. Welcome to your new family as the parents of USCGA cadets.

Go Bears!

MORE ABOUT FRANCESCA

Advice for 2021 and 2022

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Darden Purrington

Wow. It’s been too long since I sat down and blogged. Life here really flies by.

Cadet for a Day season is upon us again! (This is a program that invites prospective cadets to tour the Academy with a cadet for an entire day in order to see what USCGA is like before coming here.) Seeing all these young men and women has made me think about how useful I found the blogs when I was in high school, which reminded me I should blog, which made me think of a few things I have to pass on to all ye prospective cadets.

Class of 2021

  • It’s gonna be hard. It’s different as your support system is ripped out from under you, everything is new and exciting and kind of frightening and you can’t even look around. It’s worth it and it will get better. Swab Summer feels like an eternity but try to remember what a small portion of the Academy experience it is. You will wake up some mornings and want to leave. Don’t. You made it in and you’re tough enough to handle this place.
  • You may not see it but your cadre cares. You matter to them. They love their jobs passionately and training you is their job. They will not baby you and they will not make it easy, but they will be rooting for you even when it seems like they’re not. 2019 is full of some of the most awesome, dedicated people who cannot wait to make you all great shipmates.
  • Do your job. There will be mornings, even during the school year, that you’ll be so tired you won’t want to get out of bed or be able to remember how excited you were to get to come here. It sucks. Get up anyway, square your corners, do your job and do it with as much fake enthusiasm as you can. Fake it until you become it; I’ve found that if you do that, usually, by the end of breakfast, you feel eight million times better. If you can pretend you’re doing great, even when you feel awful, more likely than not some upperclassman will say or do something that makes you feel less like dirt. From personal experience, I can tell you that without fail, every time I am struggling and nothing seems to be going right, someone from my company does or says something – and it could be as small as greeting me by name in the passageway – that helps turn my day around. Make it easy for your shipmates to do this for you; do your job and fake it ‘til you become it.
  • Start getting ready physically for Swab Summer and have fun with your family and friends. I think particularly for those of us who do not live in New England, the last time you will ever get to spend a good amount of quality time with your friends and family is before you report in. Hang out with your friends, but also hang out with your family. I know it may not seem like the coolest thing to do, but especially if you have siblings at home, this is the last time you may ever get to spend a lot of time with them and likely the last few months you’ll ever live together. Go see a few movies together, go to the beach (when it gets warmer!), or an amusement park, or see a concert. Make some good memories and take some pictures while you’re doing so.

Class of 2022 (AIMsters)

  • Get to know your cadre. They’re scary. I was an AIMster too, trust me, I know. I was terrified of my AIM cadre, but it’s worth getting to know them and staying connected with them. This year, I was lucky enough to be in the same company I was in for AIM. Last semester, my division officer was my AIM division officer. I was fortunate that he remembered me because I didn’t make any effort to stay in contact with him or any of my other AIM cadre. I wish I had. They’re awesome people and they were rooting for me all the way. My fall division officer is easily one of best leaders I have ever had the pleasure of working for and he will be an amazing officer come May. I got lucky being in his division as well as being in Bravo for AIM and 4/c year because otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten to know the amazing firsties who were my AIM cadre. Don’t leave that to chance like I did, stay connected with them after AIM.

Anyway, hope you guys found something useful that you could take away from this post. As always, feel free to email me with any questions!

Very Respectfully,

4/c Darden Purrington

Kathlene.D.Purrington@uscga.edu

MORE ABOUT DARDEN