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Heather Huang

Irvine, CA Major: Cyber Systems Sports/Clubs: Rugby, Cyber Team, Asian Pacific American Council (APAC), Women’s Leadership Council (WLC)
Heather Huang

When deciding on what to do post high school it came down to two options, attend a four-year university or take a gap year. For a high school student in Southern California, the typical path was to attend a four-year university, especially in the University of California system or a California State University. However, after high school, I wanted to further challenge myself and also serve others, which made a gap year appealing. Having no military background in my family, I had not known about the service academies. But when I discovered the Coast Guard Academy, I realized that it offered the promises of both a four-year university education and the adventures of a gap year. The Academy is a place that I can challenge myself and help others through its humanitarian mission, while getting a college degree. It is a place that goes beyond the four walls of a university.

Out of the nine Coast Guard Academy’s majors, one in particular stood out to me: Cyber Systems. What I love about this major is that it’s not just the technical components of a typical Computer Science major. It’s broader than that with discussions about the implications of Cyber in the policy realm and how it stretches across multiple disciplines from economics, government, and society. Information security is everywhere and bridges the gap between technology and humanity. However, I am by no means a natural at coding or all things cyber related. Sometimes in my classes I’ll hit a speed bump, however, with the small class sizes I am able to receive extra help from teachers and peers outside class hours. This major also sparked my interest in Cyber outside of the classroom and I joined the Coast Guard Academy’s Cyber Team to further develop my skills in a more technical and competitive realm.

After the Academy I am aiming to get some experience in Operations Afloat as a deck watch officer on a National Security Cutter for my first tour. Then for my second tour, I would like a billet at CG Cyber Command. I would love to stay in the Coast Guard as long as possible, dual specializing in Operations Afloat and Cyber. For my career in Operations Afloat I would like to be an Executive Officer of a cutter, potentially a National Security Cutter. As for cyber, I would try to transition to other organizations or agencies in the Department of Homeland Security or Department of Defense, such as the NSA.

One quote that especially stuck with me during my college application process and even now is “you miss 100% of the shots you do not take.” If that challenge is getting into the Academy, try and fully commit. Here, your mental strength is put to the test. It is resilience that will get you into this place, and it is resilience that will get you through this place. It is easy to think that the most challenging component is working on your physical fitness, but in reality, it is your mental fitness. It’s what gets you through the 0600 wakeups and the burning sensation in your calves when standing against the bulkhead during Swab Summer. It is okay to be afraid of failure, but do not let that stop you, let it make you stronger and let the people around you lift you up. I would not want to be part of another family other than this Coastie family. I will never forget the memories I shared with the lifelong friends here and trust me the journey is worth it.