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Cadet Leads Marine Science Camp In Marshall Islands

by Stefanie Senkow
September 18, 2018

Marine Science CampNEW LONDON, Conn. -- A tent set up on the grass of a remote island, frequent power outages and building a fire to cook a meal. Sound like a camping trip? Instead, it’s the site of a humbling internship experience of cultural compassion and character-building for First Class Cadet (1/c) Kayla Ishida.

While many summer internships at the Academy take cadets on an exploration of new technology or to Coast Guard units, this unique program took 1/c Ishida to the Marshall Islands where she joined forces with Pacific Allies and a small team of student leaders to run a two-week-long marine science camp for the local high school students on Gugeegue Island.

“The purpose of the camp was to educate the island’s future leaders about ocean health and climate change,” said 1/c Ishida. “We taught them how to snorkel, collect data, identify coral and build quadrats.”

With her solid background in Marine & Environmental Science from the Academy, 1/c Ishida shined as a teacher But what really resonated with her were the strong connections she made with her colleagues and students that left a lasting impact long after her departure.

“On the last day of camp, the students prepared skits and presentations to showcase what they learned and they gave my colleagues and me special hand-made crafts and leis to show their appreciation,” said 1/c Ishida. “They even sang us a song as our bus departed from the site!”

1/c Ishida also represented the people of Ebeye Island, talking with leaders at the nearby Army base in an effort to encourage more cultural mixing among both parties to resolve a strained relationship that’s been years in the making. This combination of exercising leadership and mentoring students during this first-of-its-kind camp project has helped shape 1/c Ishida into a leader of character as she looks ahead to her officer commissioning in the Coast Guard upon graduation in 2019.

“I learned first-hand the importance of building relationships with people and fostering those working relationships, because people and the relationships that come with them are vital.”