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First Phase of Firstie Summer

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Jill Friedman

During firstie summer, cadets are expected to act as junior officers; it is considered our ‘job interview’ and last chance to figure out where we want to go when we graduate in one short academic year. I was able to spend the first half of my summer training on the USCGC Ida Lewis, a 175’ buoy tender. This was a different experience than most of my classmates because there is no wardroom on a 175’ with the only officer being a warrant officer as the CO. While this is not what I was expecting to get for my firstie summer, I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything. I worked for the Operations Petty Officer and the Executive Petty Officer. At the Academy, we are surrounded by officers so being able to work with senior enlisted gave me a different perspective and a lot of past Coast Guard wisdom to learn from.

On Ida Lewis, I was able to break in Deck Watch Officer (DWO) and take on collaterals. As a DWO, your job on the bridge is to conn. Conning is giving commands to the helmsman to steer the ship. The DWO also provides directions to navigate the ship during complex evolutions. As break-in DWO, I was able to anchor the cutter, drive onto buoys during aids to navigation (ATON) details, conn through Newport in low visibility, and moor (dock) the cutter. Each of these evolutions uses a different method of steering and has different rules that need to be obeyed. It was a lot to adapt to but I was fortunate to be able to learn from seasoned crew members. Beyond the bridge, I was able to make route plans which determine the cutter’s time underway and what buoys are worked on during the patrol. This is a job typically done by the Operations Department Head so it was good exposure to a position I may have in the future. I also spent a few days working on the buoy deck, experiencing what life is like on the deck-plate level.

I learned a lot during first phase of firstie summer, and spending half my summer in Newport, Rhode Island wasn’t bad. For the second half of my summer I have an academic internship and I’m excited to see what that experience has in store for me. If you have any questions feel free to email me at Jill.M.Friedman@uscga.edu.

MORE ABOUT JILL

Firstie Summer 2018

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link
Kirsten Sharp

Well, I am officially halfway through my firstie summer ‒ and that is quite surreal to say.

Unfortunately, due to my recent ACL reconstruction surgery and medical complications, I was told early on that I would be unable to be fit for sea this summer. Having been Eagle cadre, I have thankfully been able to complete all of my underway time already, but I was hoping to travel far away for my last summer at the Academy, as I joined the Coast Guard to get away from my small Pennsylvania hometown…but I was sent to Sector New York. On Staten Island. Two hours away from home.

Needless to say, I became less excited about my summer as it got closer.

I arrived to Sector New York with absolutely zero expectations. I knew that two of my classmates would be joining me for the first half, and I knew that we would be on land, but that was it. We met our POC, who graduated two years ago, got settled in, and it became quickly apparent that there was not much to do on Staten Island. And that the barracks had no Wi-Fi.

As time went by, and we were all moved into different departments every week (for example, containers, facilities, pollution, command center, vessel traffic and inspections), I became thankful for the new system of not needing to get qualified over the summer. Instead, I have been able to focus on being a sponge and keeping a detailed journal of the things I was learning about and all of the different roles and responsibilities that a sector has to offer the fleet. I formed real connections with my coworkers, instead of pestering them for signatures. And, most of all, I have been able to rule out being a prevention officer from my intended career path.

Not to mention, there are silver linings ‒ other than getting weekends off and occasional half days. I have been able to see my family a lot more than I have been able to in the last three years combined. I was even able to take my siblings to see “Wicked!” on Broadway. The people at Sector New York are also some of the nicest people I have ever met. From the first day I arrived, multiple people offered to have us over for dinner, or offered us directions for how to go on adventures and get off the island. And, I have been able to continue my physical therapy.

I think what I have learned most this summer is that your attitude is the only thing that you can control, and that attitudes are contagious. For that reason, it is much more productive for everyone if you have a positive attitude. After all, things that may seem disappointing at first can turn into amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities!

MORE ABOUT KIRSTEN

The End of 4/c Year and the Start of 3/c Year

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

Fourth class year is officially over and I couldn’t have made it through without the great friends and support I have found here. We learned how to balance academics, athletics, and military obligations as soon as Swab Summer had ended. The school year is full of fun activities such as the 4/c formal and the talent show. I loved these types of events because I got to know more of my classmates during these functions. I switched between multiple sport teams but I eventually found my way to Windjammers, which is the Academy’s marching band. We travel constantly, from Canada to New York to Massachusetts.

As soon as finals week was over, half of the class of 2021 walked aboard Eagle as excitement and anticipation filled the air. After only a few hours, we were underway en route to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The first few days on Eagle included climbing, learning the lines, understanding the fire main system, and so much more. We were underway for about two weeks before we arrived at our first port. The other three ports we visited were Barbados, Santo Domingo, and San Juan. The phase change was in San Juan where Phase I bid adieu to Eagle. Some of my classmates from Phase I went to stations or cutters, but unlike them, some of us then went to summer school. Various classes are offered during the summer for cadets to catch up or get ahead.

I am looking forward to starting the new school year in August! It will be great meeting the Class of 2022 and the upper-class in my new company. If you have any questions, you can reach me at Stephanie.L.Burckhard@uscga.edu.

MORE ABOUT STEPHANIE

Words Lead to Adventure

(Choosing the Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2021) Permanent link
Alyssa Easley

I remember profusely reading through the cadet blogs when I was in high school. I wanted to know what daily life was like at the Academy as well as get any inside scoops and tips that could help me in both Swab Summer and during the academic year.

Choosing to come to an academy is a big deal, and I believe that reading those blogs gave me enough insight to reaffirm that I was making the right decision! Reading peoples’ personal experiences at the Academy gave me the courage to take on everything that comes with being a cadet.

Writing is likely the most convenient way to get through to others, to express emotions, and recreate experiences. Not only that, but free-writing is one of those creative outlets that somehow manages to relieve the most stressful situations.

If, by writing, I can both do something I love and (most importantly) help someone possibly make a worthwhile and big decision, then so be it! Cadet blogging here I come! I’m ready to write about all the cool things that occur within this amazing corps!

MORE ABOUT ALYSSA

Join Me on My 200-Week Adventure

(Choosing the Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2021) Permanent link
Jacob Cheeseman

Why do I want to be a cadet blogger? The answer is simple: I want to give back. Even though I am only a 3/c cadet, I want to inspire the next generation of cadets to come behind me. I remember reading through the blog posts when I had just started to be seriously interested in the Academy. Later, I turned to the blogs for advice before AIM and during the application process. Soon, the blogs gave me important motivational tips that I internalized before Swab Summer began. I want to share my cadet experience with others so they can learn from my mistakes and my successes. If I can inspire even one candidate to apply to the Academy, then I have been successful. But if I can inspire candidates to apply, come here, and succeed, then that would be even better.

I hope to share with you what is most important to me at the Academy. Obviously, I will discuss cadet life, including academics, military, and athletic training. In this program, I will be learning how to be a better cadet as I am writing! I also want to share the unique experiences that you can’t get anywhere else, such as meeting high ranking government officials, participating in historic ceremonies, etc. I want to show the human side of the Academy – having fun with my shipmates, growing in my Catholic faith, and becoming a better person! I hope that you can join me on my CGA adventure and learn with me as I progress through my 200-week journey to becoming a Coast Guard Officer – the ultimate goal and motivation for those who walk through the Chase Hall Archway on Day One!

Semper Paratus! Go Bears!

MORE ABOUT JACOB

High School AIM Experience

(Choosing the Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020) Permanent link
MegMarie Stanchi

Before I attended AIM, I had only visited the Coast Guard Academy in person once. Now, to some, that may be more than what they experienced, but my point is that the Academy was still such a foreign place to me. I think most people can agree that their first visit to the Academy was very confusing. You don’t know what to think or what to ask because it is all so different. Well, that is why I was nervous going in to AIM; I really wasn’t sure what I was walking in to. I had done my research on AIM and Swab Summer, so I knew what might happen, or what may be done, but I was really scared to see how I would respond to it all. Even though I knew it was only supposed to be a taste of Swab Summer, I wanted to see how I would react because that was going tell me if I could handle attending this school for four years.

So, I just did it. I powered through the week and took all that I could from it. AIM is a program that not everyone gets to attend before Swab Summer, so you must take it as an opportunity to learn and ask questions if you are selected. The AIM program might have changed a little bit, but for me, the first three to four days simulated Swab Summer, in a watered-down version. We saw a lot of the Academy, went to trainings, did some incentive training, cleaned our room, folded our clothes, recited indoc, and squared our meals. It wasn’t until the end that we got to talk to our cadre, and hear from them what being a cadet at the Coast Guard Academy was like. When they talked to us, I soaked it all in. My favorite part about AIM was being able to hear what real cadets struggled with at the Academy, what they learned, what activities they were involved in, and really, how they “survived” the Academy. Hearing them speak made it seem less scary and foreign. I realized that these cadets were people from different backgrounds and different regions of the U.S., and they had made it through. They finished Swab Summer, they completed two academic years, and they stood up in front of me and talked about situations they had been in and how they got through them. As corny as it sounds, I realized they were just people. People transitioning in that weird stage from teenager to young adult.

After hearing what the academics at the Academy was like, after seeing a bit of what Swab Summer demanded, and listening to personal experiences from cadets, something was quite clear to me. I had to apply to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and give this place a try.

MORE ABOUT MEGMARIE

Trying New Things

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2021) Permanent link
Will Landry

So far, almost everything at the Academy seems new. I am constantly learning and there is always a new challenge to face. It is important to take advantages of the new opportunities you are offered because you never know how they might help you. I have never written a blog before, so when I saw the opportunity to be a part of the Blog Club I decided to try it out. I'm not sure what I will write about, but I will most likely begin with writing about my experience as a fourth class and possibly some of the things I learned in the summer. Like I said, I am constantly learning new things so there will probably always be something to write about. I hope that by writing blogs I will be able to provide helpful information for those who might be interested in applying to the Academy or maybe just people who want to see what it is like.

MORE ABOUT WILL

Doing Something Different

(Choosing the Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2020) Permanent link
Jacqueline Jones

Unlike a lot of my classmates, the decision to come to the Academy was tough for me. I had applied to about 15 colleges and I narrowed it down to two. One was a small private school in Baltimore, Maryland, only about an hour away from home. The other was the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, which is about six hours away. To my friends, the decision seemed easy; they expected me to go to the school near home. However, I wanted to do something different and try something new. I wanted to experience life and help others while doing it, and the Coast Guard Academy has not let me down yet.

I decided to become a cadet with the help of mentors, my Admissions Officer, and the cadet blogs. As a senior in high school with a decision to make, I became an avid reader of the cadet blogs. It was interesting to read how cadets felt about the Academy, their struggles, their likes and dislikes, and their many adventures as a cadet.

I am beginning my sophomore year at the Academy, and I can tell you that freshman year was hard and Swab Summer was even harder, but I do not regret my decision to come to the Academy and I cannot wait to tell you guys about the people I have met and the experiences I have had. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at Jacqueline.T.Jones@uscga.edu. Thank you for reading!

MORE ABOUT JACQUELINE