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cadet blogs

A Year in Review

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Kody Kekoa As we enter 2012 with excitement and enthusiasm, I felt that it is important to reflect on the past year.

2011 marked the first full year that I was blessed with the many opportunities that stem from the U.S. Coast Guard. While there were low points, they were greatly outnumbered by the positive moments.

Some of the memories I have are…
  • Traveling to France without the financial help of others.
  • Completing a year of prep school at the New Mexico Military Institute.
  • Joining the USCGA Boxing Team and traveling to some states for the first time.
  • Sailing on the USCGC Eagle into New York Harbor with the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, on board.
As cliché as it sounds, each day has guided me toward becoming a better person. My confidence is being constantly raised as I complete every day, although some seem nearly impossible.

It is that time of year for many of you high school seniors to narrow down your college choices and ultimately decide where you will attend. My best advice for you is to enjoy high school and go out with a bang. College will come soon enough, so this last semester and summer is for you to have fun.

Aloha.

More about Kody.

Weekends at the Academy

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Kody Kekoa As the famous poet, Rebecca Black once said “It’s Friday, Friday, gonna get down on Friday!” and indeed I am writing this entry on a Friday. If I were at home in Hawaii or at another college, it would be the start to a weekend where not a single care in the world would be given toward school. However, at the Academy, there is a different view of the weekend and it is actually a gift from the academic gods.

Fourth class (freshmen) do not have liberty on Fridays, and the liberty on Saturday and Sunday is limited, unless instructed otherwise. Other than eating, chilling with friends, working out, and sleeping, there is not much to do. So to pass by the time, we partake in the great pastime of homework. While it may seem like a downer, it is actually a blessing in disguise.

Cadets have sports, extracurricular activities, moments for themselves, and school all vying to take our precious time. So getting ahead of the game, by doing homework and studying for the future, really helps relieve the stress for the upcoming weeks. The weekend is also the best way to recover and catch up on sleep, which I believe is the number one reason why life can get pretty hard here. Another reason why I value the weekend is because it gives me time to talk with my family and friends. For as many opportunities that my shipmates and I are being opened up to, it is important to never forget where we came from.

At the Academy, the typical weekend may be uneventful. However, cadets really develop a sense of respect and value for this time.

Aloha.

More about Kody.

Set Small Goals

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Kody Kekoa It is the beginning of November, which is arguably the hardest part of the year thus far. While sports and extracurricular activities continue to take up time, the academics are becoming noticeably more difficult. At the Academy, tests for all subjects come in waves, and this next one feels like a tsunami. Projects and papers continue to the added stresses.

Because there are a million things happening at once, I have learned a very important lesson: set small goals. Especially as a 4/c it is very easy to get flustered knowing that all these things need to get done on time. Instead of panicking about each objective, I set smaller and easily achievable goals that ultimately lead to the completion of a big project or paper.

Another lesson that I cannot express enough is getting an adequate amount of sleep. It is very easy to catch yourself staying up until 1 or 2 in the morning, and while some cadets can survive like this, most end up spiraling deeper into a hole. Although that Math assignment may be 10 points, it is probably more worth it for you get to sleep if it is late in the night. The way I like to think about it is, if you stay up later, then you will not be as attentive in class the next day, and you will have to end up teaching yourself that material later on. Therefore you will need to stay up even later. Which is a scary formula.

It is now a little further along in the year, so my classmates and myself are learning the different strategies that do and do not work. I hope these points can help you if you come to the Academy or not!

Aloha.

More about Kody.

Everything’s Better in Texas!

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Samuel Krakower During the first couple days in February, I had the privilege of going with the Glee Club to Fort Worth, Texas! It was a great time, one that will certainly highlight my 4/c year. We flew down after classes on the February 1st and got in late. Our sponsor family was easily some of the nicest people I have ever met. That checked Southern hospitality off the list of things to see and have. We did “recruiting” by performing for multiple high schools, as well as a couple of elementary schools for fun. The students seemed to be pretty into it, and every time us Idlers went out and sang The Rattlin’ Bog, the place went absolutely crazy. Hopefully we recruited some good applicants!

The highlight was probably when we sang the National Anthem for the Fort Worth Stockyards Stock Show and Rodeo. The announcer gave us an amazing introduction; we sang great, and the crowd of maybe 7,000 sounded like a fully packed NFL stadium. Southern patriotism (or Texas patriotism at least) is definitely big. The rodeo itself was awesome, and it was really a good time. We finished with a full concert at a church, which went remarkably well. The concert is actually on Youtube!

Overall, the experience was great. We got out of Connecticut, did some good singing, had a great time, and just soaked in the Texas awesomeness. Now that we’re back, it’s time to hit the books, play lax, and get ready for Spring Break!

More about Samuel.

I Like It Here

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Samuel Krakower There’s something about coming back to the Academy after winter break that makes you feel depressed. Maybe it’s because of the Swab Summer feeling after the Flag Ceremony, maybe it’s because you had a great time over break and you miss your family and friends, or maybe it’s because you don’t want to do school again, or do 4/c things. Just like every other 4/c, and maybe some upper-class, I felt this coming back to the Academy. But yesterday, something really hit me. I like it here. A lot. The people I’ve met have already made a huge impact on my life from OSC Moore, our Company Chief, to former 4/c Luke Miller, a cadet in our company who got medically disenrolled just this week.

And it doesn’t stop there. I saw this article, which you all can check out.

It blows my mind that despite our current relations with Iran, the Coast Guard (and yes, the Navy) is still willing to go all out to save and rescue distressed sailors and fisherman. There’s a pride in my service that I can’t even explain in words. There were times I’ve doubted being here, whether it was the right fit, whether I could succeed academically or not. The answer to all these small problems lies in the three core values of the U.S. Coast Guard - Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty. It comes down to honoring my shipmates who have been with me on this trail and to not let them down, respecting others and myself on having accomplished so much in a measly six months, and devoting myself to every duty I have, going 100% on everything.

The new semester begins. And with that a horde of new challenges. There is no doubt in my mind that my shipmates and I can conquer them all.

More about Samuel.

This Semester and What Comes Next

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Samuel Krakower There’s nothing like hearing Christmas music in Chase Hall, it means we’re just about done with the semester! Of course, with the end of the semester come finals. As classes wrapped up, it’s amazing what we all have learned academically this semester. My Chemistry teacher, CDR St. George, showed us a binder about six inches thick full of Chemistry work, tests, PowerPoints, and the like. She bluntly said, “This was Chem 1.” We all got a laugh out of it, but it really is extraordinary how much we all have struggled and advanced this semester. I know I wasn’t looking too good in the beginning academically, but I have picked up drastically since then, looking at As and Bs in most of my classes. Study and Conference Day is today, where we basically went around to all of the classes we needed to go to and received all last minute help and suggestions for the finals. I’m really excited to get these finals knocked out.

We’ve all been told that it will only get harder after break, and that will most definitely be the case for me. I’ll be taking Stats and Engineering, the second parts of Chemistry and Calculus, and Macroeconomics, to name a few courses. Our jobs as 4/c are only going to get harder as well, at least that’s what our guidon says. On the other hand, starting next semester, lacrosse will kick in, as will the Cadet Musical. Glee Club has a trip planned to Texas in February, and Model UN will be planning for the McGill Conference in Montreal! There’s a lot to look forward to, but the main focus now is to bang out these finals, and onto winter leave!

More about Samuel.

It's Almost Thanksgiving Break

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Samuel Krakower Hey Everyone!

As my clocks would go:
Me: THERE ARE NOW 12 DAYS TO GO UNTIL THANKSGIVING LEAVE! THERE ARE NOW-
Random 1/c: Secure it!
Me: AYE AYE SIR!

Thanksgiving Break! Yes! So close to the first real break since my coming here in June, which, when I think about it, was almost five months ago. It’s incredible that I’ve been in the long blue line for that long.

Since I last wrote, a lot has gone down. The play, “Murder Runs in the Family” was a huge success! I received so many congrats and good jobs from upper class, and even Captain O’Connor, our Commandant of Cadets! It was a great experience working with everyone in the cast, and performing the show.

Halloween on the Hill was pretty cool. I got to dress as a Jersey “guido” (repping the home state!), which was a lot of fun. The weekend before, lacrosse went down to Maryland to play a game against Morgan State. Worst weather conditions I’ve ever played in, but we managed to win 16-2, so no complaints!

Aside from that, everything has been pretty routine here. The days usually follow the same pattern: training, classes, sports, sleep, repeat. We finally have all of our uniforms, concluding with out DDB jackets. We even have our running suits, but right now those are just mocking me in my upper left hand drawer, as we can’t wear them yet. At least we got dry cleaning privileges! Ironing is so much harder than it looks. We closed out the drill and formal room and wing season, so everyone is pretty happy about that.

All that’s really left is finals, finishing up CERs, and before you know it, winter leave will be here! I know I’m going back to my high school alma mater to show them the new 4/c Krakower. It should be a great time. But Thanksgiving Break comes before that, so I’m pretty pleased at the remainder of this year.

If you haven’t finished applying to the CGA yet 2016…you better finish up!

More about Samuel.

The Camaraderie

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Samuel Krakower Whoa! Midterms here already? I can’t even believe it! These first eight weeks have gone by way faster than Swab Summer did, that’s for sure! Don’t kid yourselves, applicants, if you think you did well in high school and you’ll be able to coast right through here (no pun intended), think again. These classes are tough. Add the athletics and military obligations and you’ve got one heck of a schedule! Another huge thing I’ve noticed here is everyone is really helpful and really friendly. If you need help with something, someone is going to help you. Study sessions and CAAP sessions are definitely helping me out. My favorite classes are definitely History with Dr. Zuczek and Nautical Science with BMC Shafer. History is my favorite subject (oh, hello there Government major!) and Dr. Zuczek brings an interesting perspective to it. We had some pretty intense debates about Jackson and Clay, and it’s awesome because EVERYONE gets involved and gets intense. Navigation is just a great class because it’s what I’ll be doing in just four years! Really enjoying that class, as well as all of the classes in general.

I joined a whole bunch of clubs since coming here, including Mock Trial, Model UN, Glee Club, and I even made the fall play! That’s going to be lots of fun! Lacrosse is awesome, we just played our first game against UCONN last Sunday, and we almost won! I got an assist and played two quarters, so I’m happy about that. Extracurriculars definitely take your mind off the madness of fourth class year, and can even get you wearing civvies and leaving the Academy! Glee Club is going to NYC next week, I’m pretty excited!

The military stuff is pretty chill, believe it or not. Duty gives you time to do homework with no distractions. Clocks are clocks, and the greeting is so much better than the mass greeting of Swab Summer. Which brings me to Swab Summer. Eight weeks later, looking back at it, it is easily the best experience of my life. I made thirty great friends who are now my company-mates, we went through many difficult days and came out strong. That’s what I like best about this place – the camaraderie.

One half-semester down, 15 to go until I’m an Ensign! Hopefully, it won’t go TOO fast!

More about Samuel.

The Dark Ages

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Matthew Martin Getting back into the rhythm of things, getting ready for our first round of exams, and studying for boards; life is good. I knew coming back from this place would not be on my “yay” list, but once you’re back into the swing of things, it really isn’t too bad. Yes, I miss normalcy, like eating without bracing up, not having to square all around Chase Hall, and screaming for ten minutes staring at a clock before breakfast and lunch. I also miss the garbage man that most people take for granted. All we have to do to get our carry on and to stop having to do all those annoying little tasks is to pass the Boards indoctrination test. It is a ten question, oral exam that is very formal. You have to get an 8 or better to pass and the whole class must pass before we get our privileges. In the past, boards was in February, at the latest March, but now our week of Boards in the second week of April! It is nice because you don’t have to worry about it for a while, but it is not so nice because that is right before finals and we have to be getting ready for those as well as preparing for boards. It also means we cannot get any privileges until the last week of school. We will see how well the new plan works out.

All the upper class call these winter months the “dark ages” and warned us about its effects. I didn’t believe the side effects of the sun setting abnormally early and not rising until mid day. But yes, the sky gets darker and moral gets lower around here. It is much harder to stay positive and to forget all the negativity and stay to your course of finishing 4/c year strong. I would say, no matter the time of year, that staying positive is the hardest thing, but it is also the biggest key to success. If you can see the light at the end of the tunnel or if you can be the light yourself, it not only makes your life better, but it helps out your shipmates to do the same. 40 days to go until spring break! That’s one thing to be positive about.

More about Matt.

That Pit in Your Stomach

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Matthew Martin In the past month I have experienced the best feeling and the worst feeling. One was leaving the Academy for break and the other was coming back to the Academy from break. I will let you decide which was which. But really though, Winter Leave was a lot of fun and was well deserved after finals and an exhausting first semester, but I was ready to come back. Finals are fairly tough, as they should be, and you can either let them ruin you or let them make you. Finals week is really relaxed and that is a nice change. After finals, I rushed out of here to catch a 0600 plane the day after my last exam and coming home for the first home was great! It was wonderful to walk around without my uniform on, whenever my mom let me out of the house without it on which wasn’t often. But it was good to see friends and family and to just relax, and sleep in!

Once I was home for a while, it was like I never left. Friends came home from colleges, and other friends never left and are working at the Wal-Mart or Wendy's. My friends and family made me realize why I go to the Academy. That look of pride from your family or your grandpa tearing up every time he sees you in uniform is what brought me back here. My friends’ stories about their “difficult days,” which sounds like a vacation from Academy life, is what brought me back because I know how much better prepared for life I will be by being here. Knowing that life doesn’t change at home means that I wouldn’t change being there either. Growing up means changing and becoming a better person and that is what the Academy does and is what I could get nowhere else. Coming back to the Academy, you see the tip of Hamilton Hall and the flashing light of the Chapel and you get that pit in your stomach and I probably will always get that feeling whenever I see this place. But even with that feeling, I feel refreshed and ready to take on the Academy’s challenges no matter how much I would rather be watching the new 3D T.V. at home that we got for Christmas.

More about Matt.

Basketball

(Athletics, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Matthew Martin Basketball season is in full swing now and I thought I didn’t have any time before the season started. It’s a whole new dilemma with games and practices to work around now. Time management has a new meaning at the Academy. I wish I had learned time management in high school, but instead I now rely on that lovely caffeinated beverage, coffee. Sports here do take up a lot of your valuable time, but if you love playing and being a part of that team, it’s all worth it. Sports give you an opportunity to be out of the barracks and time to not think about what is due tomorrow or what military duty you have after practice. It is a fun outlet to give your brain a break, your body a workout, and a place to meet good people.

Varsity sports are a lot more time demanding than the club sports, but we all take our sports seriously. Even though they take up some time, you magically find ways to get your work done and still find a few hours to sleep. The team just got back from Philadelphia from a tournament, which is another good reason to play sports – you have the chance to get away from the Academy and hang out in cool places getting to see bits and pieces of what normal life is like on the “outside”. Not many people get to play on a varsity college team but cadets do have that opportunity here. It is also a fun outlet.

More about Matt.

Parent's Weekend!

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Matthew Martin The most fun weekend, at least for me, of the semester has passed, Parent’s Weekend. My parents and grandparents came up for the weekend to go to a few classes, watch drill on the parade field, see my room, and give me a break from the Academy for a short weekend. Being from Arizona makes life a little harder being 2,000 miles from home because I can’t just hop in a car or train and make it home for a long weekend or Thanksgiving. This weekend was the first time I saw my parents since Reporting-In Day and it had been too long! I got to see my parents in the same spot I said my goodbyes on R-Day four months earlier, except this time I was wearing a uniform, I held my head a little higher, and had a firmer handshake. It was a lot of fun to hang out with my parents and grandparents like I was at home and I got to remember for a short second what normalcy was like.

It was the best weekend so far, better than our first weekend having liberty in Mystic, better than our weekend in New York City while on Eagle, and better than our first liberty as fourth class cadets. Yes, it was so much fun, but it made me miss home even more after they left. Most of us fourth class spend a majority of our free time looking for ways to get back on cheap flights or just counting down the days until we get to go home. Since 4/c year is the most difficult, we can’t wait till we get to go home. Most cadets get to go home for Thanksgiving, but being so far away, it’s not worth the money or the two days of traveling for a couple days at home. Christmas can’t come any sooner since that will be the first time I get to go home and see all of my family and friends. It is tough being so far away, only seeing your family maybe twice a year after you are used to seeing them way too much than you want to see them, but it is just a small price to be paid for what cadets receive here.

More about Matt.

What Is A Fourth Class Cadet?

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Matthew Martin Swab Summer finally ended and I'm now writing as a fourth class cadet! Swab Summer was of course a shock and the hardest seven weeks of my life, but also the funnest seven weeks. You are pushed physically, emotionally, and spiritually harder than you could imagine, yet it is just the beginning. As you progress through the Academy it only gets harder. You are given more jobs and more responsibility, and less room for error and it seems like less time to get it all done. Everyone can't wait until Swab Summer is over, yet once it is over, everyone would take it back in a heartbeat for a guaranteed eight hours of sleep a night, no responsibility, and plenty of time to stay in shape! You learn a lot about yourself and why you really chose to be here and those reasons change for the better as you continue through Swab Summer. It is most definitely a needed part of the Academy experience and am glad I got to be a part of the yelling, running, studying, and most memorably laughing that bonded our class together and to the "long blue line" of all the past coasties that have finished Swab Summer as well.

Now that it's over and that we have moved into the school year, everything is different. Okay, maybe not everything, but for the most part. We still have to square around the passageways of Chase Hall and greet everyone by name. We still have our indoctrination (or indoc) to memorize and we still have some yelling to do when we have to do our clocks, which is when we announce the morning and afternoon formations to the corps so everyone is on the same page (and awake). We have to take all the trash out of all the rooms in Chase Hall and we have to keep our uniforms neat and up to standard. There're also military duties that we have to stand to make sure the corps keeps running. Yes, we have a lot to do, not to mention 22 credits in school as well as athletics. But the big difference between the school year and Swab Summer is the fact that there's no one breathing down your neck making sure you do everything you are told; it's all on you to get things done. As fourth class, our role is to be followers, to continue the teamwork we built in Swab Summer to accomplish tasks that help the corps function. Next year, we will be able to sit back and let the next fourth class take our trash because we paid the price for the privilege the previous year. Yes, fourth class year is tough, but it’s just the next stepping stone to be an Ensign in the USCG.

More about Matt.

Winter Leave Was A Great Thing

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 James Meyers Winter leave is the first time you really get to leave the Academy for an extended period of time. I got to go home and enjoy a full three weeks of doing absolutely nothing. To go from all the military, academic, and athletic requirements to sleeping till 2 p.m., wearing normal clothes, and driving places, is a really good feeling. In the period I was home “doing nothing,” I managed to find time to hang out with old friends, go to NYC, and obviously spend time with family. I’m not sure whom I spent more time with, my family or my friends, but either way, it was good to see them.

I really appreciate small things that I didn’t necessarily think about or appreciate before coming to the Academy, like being able to make my own breakfast, and having a room to myself (not saying I don’t love my roommates). I was also able to go play hockey at our ice rink a few times, which was fun. It was at Navy and there was also a gym so that allowed me to stay in shape somewhat.

The part that nobody likes about winter leave is coming back, but it was not as bad as I expected it to be. I came back excited to see my friends at the Academy and three weeks was enough time to let me relax before classes. All in all, winter leave was a great thing, and something I needed, but now I’m ready to start the work again.

More about James.

Studying for Finals

(Academics, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 James Meyers I have finals this week, and as soon as those are done, I get to leave and go home for three whole weeks. The fact that I get to leave is what’s going to get me through them. Three weeks. The longest I’ve been away from the Academy was five days for Thanksgiving and I didn’t even get to go home, I spent it at my grandparent’s house in Rhode Island. Anyway, finals are here and I’m pretty sure I’m ready for them. I’ve gotten almost all A’s in my classes as if that’s not enough of an indicator of how I’m going to do, I study all my old notes and the old material comes back very quickly.

While some people are using the cramming method, I find that it works a lot better to have been studying all semester and then just review. That way, as soon as I’ve reviewed my material, I actually have free time to relax. It is important to find at least a little time to rest so that you don’t explode with all the things you have to do during the day, especially during finals.

Fortunately, the Academy becomes almost like a normal college for a week, as many duties are dropped in favor of academic time and studying. There is much more time for closed door studying in rooms, and we no longer have to cover clocks (clocks can be an entry of its own). Finals, at least for me, is a good time as long I have been studying hard for the whole semester. The work pays off in the end.

More about James.

My Swab Summer

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 James Meyers It's only appropriate that my first blog entry is about Swab Summer, as that was my first experience at the Academy. They are seven weeks of hard mental and physical conditioning to get you ready for the school year and prepare you to be in the military. The most difficult part of Swab Summer for me was not the physical activity, but the drastic change from civilian life to military life. I'm pretty average when it comes to physical fitness, and there were very few things I couldn't do. Not saying it was easy, but it's like any good workout; you feel much better once you're done. As for the new military life style, my senior year of high school I was basically a lazy bum. I had two classes, got home by 10 a.m., and either slept all day or ate McDonald's, and that's not really an exaggeration; you could ask any of my high school friends. So to come here and go from being able to sleep all day, to running around from the break of dawn until 10 p.m. was a huge change. Once the first week passed I got into the basic routine so it wasn't as bad. It's really just a marathon and a test of endurance. Anyone can make it through with a little will power and determination.

More about James.

Getting Back in the Swing of Things

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Alex Min Trying to adjust to any new situation always proves to be a major feat; however, coming back to the Academy was more difficult than I imagined. Thankfully, the first week upon arrival was MAP week, when we spent our days attending trainings and lectures. It takes time to really get acclimated back to the military lifestyle and waking up before six every morning. Another challenge for me was particularly the weather. The first few days I was cold no matter where I went; in lectures, Chase Hall, my room, and even my bed. After enjoying three weeks of 85 degree weather, Connecticut was freezing. The first week was really overwhelming, but my best friends were here with me and they helped to pick me up. No matter how difficult the challenge, especially coming back, having friends helps you through your toughest days. Leave also generates a lot of funny stories, which always keeps everyone entertained and smiling.

More about Alex.

Self Reflection

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Alex Min As the semester comes to a close I thought it would be a great time to reflect and think back to why I chose the Coast Guard and what gives me the motivation to keep giving all I have everyday. First off, I am here because I wanted to do something for my country, as President John F. Kennedy captured in his inaugural speech, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” The Coast Guard opened doors for me to give back to my country and also helps me achieve goals I have set in my life.

Secondly, I am here for the challenge. It was hard to leave Hawaii, but life on the islands never changes so I was ready to see the world and gain new experiences. The Coast Guard has already given me many experiences I never dreamed possible; anchoring right outside the Statue of Liberty during my Swab Summer Eagle experience, visiting Washington D.C., and meeting some of the finest people I have ever met.

Finally, I am here because I owe it to so many who have also done what I am doing. I owe it to my family, friends, teachers, and those who have come before me. As I am often reminded, I am carrying on the “long blue line,” and it brings me a lot of pride that I am here doing what so many before me have already done. During the most trying periods of time during my first semester as a 4/c cadet, I find it rewarding to take a few minutes to reflect back and remember why I am here and what I am working toward.

More about Alex.

Formal Room and Wing

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Alex Min There’s nothing quite like spending hours cleaning with your shipmates, trying to make every inch of your company spotless and smelling good. Once a month, the fourth class cadets assemble and embark on an all night experience, which normally continues into the early morning hours. From cleaning the heads (bathrooms) to scrubbing off the scuffs on the deck (floor) we do it all. During a formal room and wing, the ranking cadets at the Academy inspect company areas, rooms, and the bathrooms.

Formal room and wings are not fun, but it serves a good purpose. It is a humbling experience to spend hours cleaning and makes me appreciate the hard work that so many others have to do every day. Each formal room and wing also provides an opportunity to catch up with my shipmates while we scrub and brush the decks. However, the best is when it’s all over and you feel so accomplished and proud to see the decks shining in the light.

More about Alex.

Rugby

(Athletics, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Alex Min Stepping on to the pitch for the first time each match generates one of the greatest adrenaline rushes of my life. I walk up to the line with fourteen other players, every arm linked around the neck of the player to the left and right. We anxiously await the kickoff and the opportunity to make the first tackle. Rugby is different from any other sport I have ever played. For those who have never watched a game, it consists of a mix of soccer and football, minus the pads. A full match lasts for eighty minutes, two forty minute halves, and is very physically draining.

Myself along with about eight other 4/c came out to join the team in late August, and since then have developed a much clearer understanding of the game. We practice every day in Stonington, at the Coast Guard Foundation field, about twenty minutes from the Academy. We also have morning practices on Tuesday and Thursday.

This past Saturday, October 9, 2011, we traveled to Maine on a six-hour bus ride to play at the University of Maine at Orno. It was a great game, the weather was moderate, and our A team won the match. Unfortunately, during our B game, our very own 4/c Tramontano dislocated his shoulder making an amazing tackle. After a quick trip to the local ER and great help by the medical staff, he will make a complete recovery and should be back playing rugby in no time.

The rugby team has great camaraderie that is hard to find anywhere else. It is made up of a group of genuine men, who come together to play some amazing rugby. I attribute the cohesiveness of the team to the captains, 1/c Dewechter and 1/c Gonzales as well as the great coaching staff.

More about Alex.

First Time Home

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Sean Murphy Today is the day I was dreading all week: the day I have come back from leave. Coming back is actually not as bad as I thought it would be, knowing that I only have two and a half weeks left before I go back to sunny Sarasota, Florida. Thanksgiving leave was awesome. Returning home for the first time to my parents was a great feeling; I really felt how proud my family is of me. I saw tons of friends and family, threw down some old inside jokes, did work on some Thanksgiving turkey, played plenty of ultimate Frisbee, practiced with my old crew team, hung out at the beach, and went to church. The one thing everyone said to me when they first saw me was, “You are so pale!” I guess that’s what happens when you go from being outside in tank tops every single day to living in New London, Connecticut, where you wear long sleeves and stay inside because the sun goes down at 1630 during the winter.

I’ve heard from a lot of people that when I go back home, I will lose the connection that I had with my friends because they won’t understand what I go through everyday at the Academy. I personally found the opposite with my friends. I found a mutual respect between my friends and me for what we both have experienced. All the same old inside jokes were alive and well. I also learned that my view of a “real” college experience was not accurate. Before reuniting with my friends this past week, I viewed their lives as waking up at noon everyday, go to one class a day, and then party the rest of the time. In reality, I heard stories of my friends bogged down in homework, studies, and athletics, and only having time to enjoy the “real” experiences on the weekends. I didn’t feel alone and took solace in knowing I’m not the only one working my behind off every day.

I attended church with my family on Saturday, the day before I left for the Academy. I reluctantly agreed to wear my uniform to mass (I’m glad I did – my family was very happy). The homily was about waiting for the future. The priest explained how we are always waiting for something: for someone to come home, for a holiday, or for a return home. He explained how we feel helpless because we are obsessed with waiting for the future. His homily was very relevant for any military family. During my whole time at the Academy, my family and I have been playing the waiting game for me to go home. I was even playing the waiting game before I came to the Academy. I waited eagerly to leave home for R-Day. It is so easy to get caught up in waiting for the future that you don’t enjoy the moment that you are in. Then when you get to the moment you have been waiting for, you are dreading the ending of the moment! I’m learning to enjoy the moment that I am in and not get caught up in the anxiety of waiting for the future. It’s the experiences of the present that shape us for the future. I don’t know if it’s too early to make a New Year’s resolution, but I propose for myself to try to enjoy more of the present. I urge you to do the same. Before you know it, you’ll have an appointment, graduate from high school, report into USCGA, finish Swab Summer, and return home in uniform for Thanksgiving. The future will come a lot quicker than you think.

I have a week and a half until finals! I have a speech and rough draft due on Tuesday, calculus test on Tuesday, chemistry lab on Tuesday, macroeconomics test on Thursday, uniform inspection on Wednesday, chemistry test next Tuesday, paper due next week, community service on Saturday, Statics project due next week, and chemistry , calculus, statics, and macroeconomics exams right before I leave for winter break. Just wait one moment while I have a stress-induced hernia.

I know! It sounds like a lot, but if you stay in top of the work, it is definitely realistic. It is important to learn good study habits before coming here. In reality, if you pay attention in class, do all the homework, and ask plenty of questions in class, the tests are not extremely difficult. The key is making sure you understand the material everyday, and don’t leave any learning until the day before the test. Good luck to all of those waiting to hear back from Admissions. I will never forget how stressful that was. As my grandfather would say “Keep punchin’!”

Cheers.
Oh P.S. – Shout out to my sister Katherine – she’s engaged...talk about a waiting game now! Congrats KK!

More about Sean.

Acclimating and Finding Motivation

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Sean Murphy Finishing Swab Summer was a huge weight off my shoulders. My next challenge was the academic year. The start of the semester was very difficult for me; I was constantly stressed out and overwhelmed. There are so many upper class, and I have to greet them all. There is so much indoc, and I have to know it all. There are so many uniforms, and I have to prepare them all. My family kept telling me that it would take a while, but I would eventually get into the swing of things, and they were right. With help from my shipmates and 3/c (basically the 4/c mentors), I soon became comfortable and found my rhythm. By the end of the first half of the semester, I figured out my routine, and have seen success so far in my experiences here at the Academy. If you come here, one of the biggest things you will hear is “Ask for help when you need it, and don’t wait until it is too late”. Everyone here is more than willing to help you with anything you need, all you need to do is ask. Relying on my family for support is huge for me; having people to reassure you that it will all work out is invaluable.

Times when I am overwhelmed with work, or just would rather be doing something else than cleaning for an inspection, I find myself pulling motivation from the inside. I think of the opportunity that I have, to receive an excellent education, to protect my fellow Americans, to travel the country and even the world, and most importantly, to become an officer in the Coast Guard; I realize that it isn’t as bad from the outside looking in. Given these opportunities, it is my duty to do the best that I can, even if situations are not enjoyable at all. Put down in a squat position in Swab Summer, I would think of the incredible sacrifices that my grandparents made to come to this country; the sacrifices they made for me to have this opportunity to follow my dream of becoming a Coast Guard officer. This motivation will push you to new limits. Saying to yourself, “If he/she could do or endure that, I can do this”, is incredibly inspiring.

More about Sean.

What Else Could CGA Stand For?

(Just for Fun, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Justin Sherman It’s been about two and a half weeks since returning to the Academy from Winter Leave. So much has happened in these past 18 days, and I’d say that we’re all back into the swing of things—or rather that we’ve established a new rhythm with our new classes, new divisions, and new uniforms (Winter Dress Blues!)

When I began thinking about what I was going to write for this month, I considered doing one focused on the acronym CGA. Here at the Academy and in the Coast Guard acronyms are extremely common. Some of our Academy-specific uniform items (e.g. running suits, rec gear) display ‘CGA.’ So I was wondering, besides Coast Guard Academy, what else could CGA represent?

Where did I get this idea? The story behind my nonsense: I participate in the activities of the Academy’s Officers’ Christian Fellowship group. Cadets who send emails with OCF information usually end their emails with:
“PTL Pass The Lettuce
Praise The Lord.”

A friend of mine, 4/c Josh Payne, and I decided it would be fun to find other three-word phrases for ‘PTL.’ (It’s a great challenge!)

This game/challenge we had led me to the idea of finding phrases for CGA. Sadly, we couldn’t think of as many CGA’s (I received help from Josh) as we could PTL’s. Nevertheless, I’ll share the CGA’s that we did create and explain the meaning behind each one (there are few that are somewhat of a stretch).

Clocks: Good Alarm
Every morning before the breakfast meal formation and every afternoon before the lunch meal formation, 4/c cadets (“fourth class”—used as a noun) have to do what is called a Clock Orderly, or Clocks for short. At ten minutes to go until the formation, there is a fourth class at each clock in Chase Hall (the barracks), and that individual must shout, “Sir/Ma’am,* there are now ten minutes to go until this morning/afternoon’s meal formation. This morning’s/afternoon’s meal formation will be held at fair/fowl weather parade. The uniform for this morning’s/afternoon’s meal formation is _____.” *Based on gender of Company Commander (first class cadet). Taken from the Running Light (the little blue book that the swabs hold in what seems to be every picture of them).

Back to Clocks. At seven minutes to go (and every thirty seconds following that until four minutes—“three minutes and sixty seconds”—to go), the fourth class again announce how many minutes remain, location of the formation, and the uniform for the formation. In the approximately twenty to fifteen seconds that remain until the next thirty-second mark, fourth class have to recite the daily indoc: the menu for the next three meals, the movies playing at the local movie theater, sports news (what teams the Academy is challenging for that upcoming week), and the number of days to go until important dates, such as long/holiday weekends, leave periods, and graduation.

Cafeteria Grub: Aramark
The company that makes the food in the cafeteria—called the Wardroom—is named Aramark.
A special shout out and thank you to my friend back home, Shelby Shafer, for helping me find the word “grub” as a replacement for “food.”

Colors; Give Attention
At 0800 (8 a.m.) and at sunset every evening the Academy observes Colors, the raising and lowering, respectively of the flags (National Ensign and the Coast Guard Ensign). Whoever is outside and on base (on Academy grounds) must stand at attention (and salute, if a member of the military) while Colors “goes-off” (the verb we use).

Can’t Give Attitude and Can’t Give “At-Ease”
Attitude – This is for the 4/c cadets. As the lowest-ranking cadets, we must be respectful to all upper-class cadets. Also, there are many little restrictions on the actions of fourth class. For example, when walking in the halls of Chase, we must remain in the center of the hall and “square” (sharply pivot) each corner. As fourth class, we have to accept these “duties” and not complain or question why we must do such things. “At-Ease” – This is for our mentors, the 3/c cadets. When they come into our room (well, actually when any upper class comes into a fourth class’s room), we call “Attention on Deck” and have to stand at attention. Second and first class cadets can tell us to relax (or carry-on)—in other words, be at ease. Third class, however, cannot give us this command.

I guess this is a good place to give another shout-out. This one is for one of the third class in my company that is somewhat of a mentor for me this semester. This 3/c cadet is Ms. Marie Navetta who is the Quarter Watch Stander (QWS) for the period that I am on Company Orderlies (cleaning the wing area). 3/c Navetta basically supervises my cleaning and goes around the wing area checking for cleanliness and orderliness.

Corners Gratefully Arced
As I mentioned above we have to square corners (along with many other things that I won’t get into here). Occasionally we are granted modified carry-on, which means that we do not have to square our corners (again, along with a few other privileges).

Clubs, Groups, and Athletics
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Besides school, we have many extracurricular activities here at the Academy. Ask me about them!

Companies Get Awards
At the end of each semester, each company (subsection of the Corps of Cadets) is recognized for certain achievements including most hours of community service, highest average GPA, best score in military assessments such as Formal Room and Wing or Drill. The most prestigious of these recognitions is Honor Company, the company that has the best overall performance throughout all areas of academics, athletics, and military. If a company earns Honor Company, each member of that company is authorized to take a long weekend (leave Friday afternoon/evening and return Sunday afternoon/evening). Other awards include Late Racks (permission to sleep in for a day).

Courtesy Graces All
We have courtesy and etiquette trainings so that we can learn to be respectable, presentable, and professional officers.

I could keep going, but this entry has become rather long. I’ve decided that I will end the next few blog entries with one or two CGAs (just like cadets close the OCF emails) and provide an explanation, if necessary.

Until next month! Happy winter. Go snow! Go snow days! (We can only hope.)

More about Justin.

Finals and Finally Going Home

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Justin Sherman “There is just one more day until the last day of finals (and my last military obligation).”

I never thought knowing the days to go (daily required indoc) would be worthwhile, but the countdown to winter leave (two weeks long) has never been more exciting. It will be my first time to be really home since I left the week before Swab Summer. When I flew home for Thanksgiving, we travelled to see family, so it was a whirlwind of a trip, hardly what I would call “being home.” So, winter leave will be the first time to relax at home and to catch up with friends.

But, first come finals. I have three. Not too bad, but my first two were this weekend, Friday and Saturday; my last is on the last day of finals, Wednesday. Guess I’ll be one of the few toughing it out to the end. Finals week isn’t bad though, because we get liberty every day. That is a sweet deal, but it doesn’t beat being home. Nevertheless, I’ve had my fill of holiday morale, too: decorating the chapel, a jazz band Christmas gig at a retirement home, four giant, overflowing trays of Christmas cookies (and I’m not exaggerating) in our dayroom (company lounge area), decorating my room with Christmas lights and stockings (room decorating is huge here—way more than I expected), the corps-wide holiday dinner, company morale party, a candlelight service, caroling at the Teutons’ (leaders of the Officers’ Christian Fellowship group), and making holiday gifts with my sponsor family. There is quite a bit of cheer to remind cadets that finals season is also the holiday season.

Earlier this year, a firstie told me that finals week is ironically the week that he gets the most sleep. I didn’t believe him at first. I mean, come on, it’s finals week. Boy was I wrong. I really have had more time than I know what to do with. So I’ve filled my time building paper cubes and other 3D shapes (which I Googled and found were called sonobe origami). They’re simple to make and somewhat soothing—a great stress reliever for finals week and something to keep my mind off the slowly ticking clock until I get to go home. Well, I better go and finish preparing for my history final (tomorrow). Oh, and start packing out (when we get back from break we get new roommates!).

I hope everyone has a great holiday break and happy new year. See you in 2012!

More about Justin.

Autumn Wind and Windjammers

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Justin Sherman Windjammer – a large sailing ship; also: one of its crew; CGA marching band member.

For the past three and a half months, I have been a member of the Academy’s Drum and Bugle Corps (marching band/pep band), Windjammers; and for the past three and a half months, I thought that a “windjammer” was a word created to describe the drum and bugle corps. “Wind” for the bugles and “jammer” for the drums. That is until I was watching television at my sponsor family’s house over Columbus Day weekend; there was a show on about the giant ships of today, and a windjammer was one of them. I should have figured that the name Windjammers was related to something nautical.

I hadn’t been in a marching band in high school, so I was a bit hesitant about joining Windjammers (though I had been telling people that’s what I planned to do when I got to the Academy). I was worried that since I didn’t have any previous marching background, I would be way behind all the other members of the band. Also, Windjammers was going to be a huge time commitment. We were going to practice for two hours (during sports period) every day; we would have to learn and memorize the music, the marching, and the horn movements. As a new 4/c, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to handle this commitment on top of my schoolwork and other 4/c requirements (i.e. knowing indoc, standing watch). Now that our season is coming to a close, I look back and am so glad that I didn’t quit.

One of the best aspects of being a Windjammer is that the band gets you out of the Academy to some pretty neat places. Band trips are the best: free transportation and lodging, long weekends when there isn’t a holiday, and civies (civilian/regular/non-issued clothes). I can tell you that I’ve mastered the art of sleeping on a bus and of changing in tight spaces.

The band’s travels have included trips to a Chicago concert, the Big E, the Naval Academy, McGill University in Canada, and the New York City Veteran’s Day Parade. With the band I’ve probably had some experiences that I probably wouldn’t have had otherwise.

The first week after Swab Summer, I went to a Chicago concert in Massachusetts (and got to wear civies!). A few weeks later, I visited for the first time the Big E, a state fair for several of the New England states. When we were marching in the parade at the fair, I heard one mother say to her children as we passed, “Look, that’s the Coast Guard Academy. You should be so proud.” I felt a whole new sense of pride for the Academy and the Coast Guard.

Our next trip began with an overnight bus ride to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. We stayed with cadets at the Naval Academy that weekend, so I got to experience a bit of what life was like there. After that staying at there, I was so glad that I picked the Coast Guard Academy. The atmosphere of the small school here suits my liking much more than the large one at Annapolis. While at Navy, the band competed against the drum and bugle corps from the Air Force Academy and the Naval Academy. Even though their D-and-B’s were much larger than ours, the Windjammers still had one of our best performances, receiving the highest score a Windjammers group has earned for the past twenty years. It was kind of a big deal.

At the end of October we went international when we drove to Montreal to play the halftime show for McGill University’s football game. This show was the culminating event of the season; it was the last time we would put this show on the field. After the game, we had liberty in Montreal. We explored the city while we looked for a good place to eat and while the ladies looked for clothing stores with good deals. We learned a little French, and I introduced everyone to Tim Horton’s (apparently Tim Horton’s isn’t as widespread in the U.S. as it is where I’m from).

Our last presentation was probably the most special. We marched in the Veteran’s Day parade in New York City and then walked around the city in uniform for my first Veteran’s Day as a member of the armed forces. The travelling part was fun, too. Our bus broke down, so we had to switch buses on the side of the highway, and we stayed in pretty nice housing at Sector New York.

Yes, this fall has been a whirlwind of activity, and I’ll be sad to see the Windjammers season end. The nice thing about our band being small is that it’s a really tight-knit group of people. I’ll admit, I look forward to having Saturday afternoons off, but I’ll also miss spending time with the other Windjammers as often as I did. Sure, I’ll still see the upper class from Windjammers in the hall and be able to greet them by name even though they aren’t my company, but I already can’t wait for next year!

More about Justin.

Reconcile

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Justin Sherman The transition into college life was abrupt and shocking—R-Day and Swab Summer—but I also had a pretty long orientation (seven weeks long!). Therefore at times I find it difficult to truly feel like I’m in college.

One night this summer, a 2011 graduate of the Academy spoke to my company before Taps; he told us that no matter what we did, we could never make the Academy a civilian college because the rules and culture among the cadets prohibited the type of atmosphere you’d find in civilian colleges and universities. Nevertheless, I’ve spent the last month and a half trying to reconcile my understanding of what “regular” college is supposed to look and feel like and what it’s like here. These are my ideas so far—but let me warn you, some of these are a bit of a stretch.

What’s does everyone talk about when they talk about college? Parties. Yup, we still have parties here, just not the type you’d expect. How about shoe and boot shining parties. There are also study parties and morale parties, too.

Like regular college students, we still live off crackers and peanut butter and Chinese food delivery because it’s too inconvenient to go to the dining hall (especially for us fourth class since we have to “square meals”), even though our wardroom (dining hall) is in the same building as our rooms.

We can still sleep in—if we’re awarded a late rack—but sleeping in means sleeping until 0745 (7:45 AM). We still have class schedules that give us an afternoon or morning (or both) off.

We still have to do our own laundry and manage our money. OK, so finding a job to earn a paycheck isn’t our biggest concern (it’s a bit easier for us than at other universities…).

We still have a residence assistant, or at least the closest thing to it. For the fourth class (4/c), our RA is a special second class (2/c) called the guidon. Our guidon checks the condition of our room: swept and buffed or vacuumed, trash out, clothes and other gear stowed and put away in their proper places; the guidon also ensures that we 4/c are completing our duties, including doing well in our classes and is in charge of any necessary discipline. But the guidon isn’t the only one who monitors these things. We have three more RA’s which we call masters at arms (MAAs) who also check the condition of all the rooms in our wing area of Chase Hall.

We still have the challenge of learning to live with a roommate, of keeping both halves of the room clean (thankfully, we have to keep our rooms clean and neat), of feeling bad for staying up late working on homework while your roommate is trying to sleep. I am fortunate, my roommate, Ryan, is a great guy who is fine with my keeping the desk lamp on while he falls asleep. Because we have to get up by 0600 for formation—unless one of us is taking a late rack—we never have to worry about getting up earlier than the other and waking him.

I’m pretty proud of my list of comparisons, but despite the similarities with what I pictured to be a regular college, I still don’t feel as if I’m actually in college. Maybe it’s because my classes and course schedule don’t feel much different from what it was like in high school. Or maybe it’s the fact that every day I am reminded that we’re not typical college students and that the Coast Guard Academy is a more than an ordinary college. No, it’s a military academy and far from any mainstream image of a college. Each day, with our military trainings and obligations added to our already busy schedule, I can’t forget that I’m in the Coast Guard. I think it’s time to find a new idea about what my college experience—or should I say my officer training experience, is going to be like.

More about Justin.

Four Months Left

(Athletics, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Kevin Subramanian What a start to the semester! So much has happened since the beginning of the semester. The Corps was honored to have Admiral Robert Papp, Commandant of the Coast Guard, speak to us during the first week back from break. Shout out to 4/c Peter Driscoll, who asked a question and was complimented by the most powerful man in the Coast Guard! After a relaxing break back home in New Jersey, I found it very difficult to adjust back to the Academy lifestyle. Many upper-class explained how that is a normal thing and it would only be a matter of time before we were back in the groove again.

All the fourth class are anxiously awaiting “101st Night”, this Sunday, where fourth class cadets have the chance to “earn” being second class cadets for a day. I am excited, because it will be physically and mentally demanding, but rewarding in the end. There are less than four months left of being a fourth class. All the 4/c keep reminding each other and everyone is working hard together to get through schoolwork and prepare for the Challenge of the Guardsman in April.

The men’s basketball team went on a six game losing streak to begin the month of January. I was lucky enough to watch them snap that streak, beating Wheaton 75-69, a night filled with spirit and fun. Paul Duddy, an Academy grad, received the Spirit of the Bear Award for all the support he has given to the Corps’ sports teams.

There are now eighteen days until the next long weekend! Everyone has the countdown ready and they are finalizing their President’s Day Weekend plans. I will be going home to New Jersey again. Feel free to contact me with any questions about the Academy at Kevin.S.Subramanian@uscga.edu. Semper Paratus!

More about Kevin.

Basketball, Finals and Leave

(Academics, Athletics, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Kevin Subramanian There’s no better feeling than beating MMA (Merchant Marine Academy), the Coast Guard Academy’s rival in all sports. Yesterday, most of the Corps came out to watch the men’s basketball team win 85-77 in a thrilling game. The team has now won four straight games and has high expectations for the rest of the year. After jumping out to an early lead, MMA came back with a 20-1 run in the second half, making things interesting. The enthusiasm of the crowd and the amazing play of 2/c Greg Marshall, 3/c Kevin Sowers, and 4/c David Anderson helped Coast Guard end the game on a 15-6 run.

Things are tense with finals approaching in about two weeks. First, this Saturday is Winter Formal! It is the first formal for fourth class cadets, who received their “Dinner Dress Blues,” yet another uniform to add to the collection. Additionally, the Academy gives cadets a lot of time to prepare for finals by easing up on military obligations and ending classes two days before the first day of exams. I have three exams to prepare for: Calculus, Statics and Engineering Design, and Chemistry. Some fourth class cadets have up to five finals to prepare for! Everyone seems stressed; however, it’s only a reminder that 4/c year is halfway done!

The Corps seemed to enjoy the time away from the Academy during Thanksgiving Leave. I travelled to Philadelphia with my father and had a chance to attend a Flyers hockey game! During a break in the game, a veteran walked onto the ice and was honored by the team. I was in shock as I saw players put down their sticks, referees pocket their whistles, and fans drop their food, and give a standing ovation for the American hero. I got goosebumps as a “U-S-A!” chant rang throughout the arena. It’s moments like these I am grateful to be in such a great country and realize the honor it is to serve.

More about Kevin.

The Dark Ages, Sports, Academics and Getting Away

(Academics, Athletics, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Kevin Subramanian The famous “Dark Ages” have begun here at the Academy. The “Dark Ages” are a time where we go to class at 0800 (8:00 a.m.) in the dark, and by the time classes end at 1600 (4:00 p.m.), its dark again. It gets colder and the overall morale of the Academy seems to take a hit. Luckily, the 4/c have lots of Spirit Missions planned!

November is a great month to get distracted here at the Academy! Fall sports are coming to an end. Shout out to the girls’ volleyball team for winning the ECAC Championship and maintaining an undefeated 13-0 record at home! Also, a shout out to the football team, winning their final game of the season by crushing Maine Maritime Academy 52-15! 1/c Jarrod Owens, of the best company (Hotel) threw for over 330 yards in his final game as a Bear. Bravo Zulu, Mr. Owens! Winter sports seasons have also started, including basketball, indoor track, and swimming.

The best part about November is the three-day weekend for Veterans’ Day and upcoming Thanksgiving leave! Many 4/c cadets are getting a chance to see their family for the first time since R-Day. I get to see my parents both times, taking the train down to New Jersey. People use these holidays as motivation to encourage one another and themselves.

Academics are getting really intense as people scramble to prepare for finals coming up in the first and second week of December. A lot of upperclassmen are warning the 4/c about the dangers of not preparing well. I can’t even begin to describe how helpful the professors and instructors are when it comes to providing extra help. Everyone wants to see you succeed!

My family and I have already planned what we are doing for my Winter break. My last exam is on December 13, so I plan to visit my brother, ENS Larry Subramanian, who is on USCGC Midgett in Seattle, Washington. We’re going to visit the Coast Guard station in Seattle and I’m going to take the opportunity to learn about the 378-foot cutters out there, the Midgett and the Mellon. Should be exciting!

More about Kevin.

Giving Back and Working Hard

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Kevin Subramanian I can’t believe midterms are already here! My grades look amazing, and I only have the upperclassmen and instructors to thank for that! Hotel Company cadre prepared us really well in handling the pressure and stress that the Class of 2015 has faced to start the academic year. All the instructors have been unbelievably helpful, with informative lectures and flexible office hours. The upper-classmen have guided us to making fewer mistakes as a 4/c, and always seem to have their doors open to give extra tutoring for homework or upcoming tests.

Here at the Academy, opportunities to help the corps and the community are abundant. I loving keeping stats or being a ball-boy at sporting events, like soccer and volleyball. I have helped out at Protestant Church services, making announcements and doing readings. I also had the wonderful opportunity in preparing breakfast for homeless people in the New London area, waking up at 4 a.m. on a Friday morning.

I attend all home games for the volleyball team. The future for the team looks bright, since they have only one 1/c, and four 4/c! I’m excited to keep volunteering at the games, since I have become better at helping the officials out and keeping track of statistics. I hope to do the same for the basketball teams this winter.

I have been boxing every weekday for the last seven weeks. Meade Gym, located in the Alumni Center, has a single boxing ring and eight punching bags. I first entered boxing thinking it was just a chance to hit a bag over and over again, let out my anger. But I soon learned otherwise. On the first day of practice, we went down to the track and did a workout, totaling of over three miles of running. We do so much cardio and endurance work, that sometimes I forget about the boxing aspect of it all!

Boxing is my escape. After the long day of greeting every upper-classmen, working nonstop on schoolwork, I am happy when the final class rolls around and it’s time to change into some comfortable gym gear and head to practice. The coaches and captains are amazing. 2/c Berto Perez and 2/c Justin Maio are great captains, much different from what they were like as cadre during Swab Summer. I have made many new friends, from all classes. I plan on continuing boxing year-round. My goal is to use boxing as a way to get my PFE score above a 270, and earn a Blue Star, which cadets can pin onto their uniforms.

More about Kevin.

Christmas Break is Coming!

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Ruby Surgent So Thanksgiving Break has just come to a close. It was a short but nice respite from the Academy. It was a great chance to go home and see those friends. It is amazing how little things have changed in my hometown relative to how much my life has changed since R-Day. No matter how early I have to get up when I am at school, I still love sleeping in till noon; that will never change.

Now that I am back at the Academy, there are 16 days till I come home again for Christmas. But there is a lot of work to do before then. Classes are finishing up for the semester and then there is finals week. Even though finals week sounds daunting, I have heard from the upper class that it is the best week. I was told we get more liberty as well as other privileges like getting to listen to music aloud in our rooms.

It is hard to believe that the first semester is coming to an end. I am sure for all prospective cadets that you are amazed you are almost done with high school. Senioritis will kick in soon if it hasn’t already. Just remember to keep doing well if you are serious about the Academy. If you have already been accepted, congratulations. If not, keep pushing, many are accepted under regular admissions too. Good luck and have a great holiday.

More about Ruby.

Advice to High Schoolers

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Ruby Surgent So as you may have heard, academics are tough here. But even so, it is definitely possible to do well. For all the juniors and seniors out there reading this blog, I would like to recommend some tips that will prepare you for 4/c classes.

The typical classes most 4/c take 1st semester: Calculus 1, Statics and Engineering Design or Fundamentals of Navigation, Macroeconomics or History, English, fitness and wellness and swimming, Chemistry and Chemistry lab, and BEARS (a college introduction class).

That is a total of eight classes, which is a lot especially when you will have military obligations and sports. Here is what you can do now that I hope will help prepare you for classes at the Academy.
  • As hard as it is senior year of high school, take the important classes like math, science and English seriously and learn a lot
  • Take AP chemistry (I wish I had, I’m not kidding)
  • Take AP calculus 1 and 2 if you can
  • Don’t take the easy road senior year, what I mean is take a full day of classes and take classes that will challenge you
  • Work on your time management now; get in the habit of not procrastinating
  • Don’t forget to have fun and enjoy spending time with your friends
If you have any questions you can email me at: Elizabeth.R.Surgent@uscga.edu

More about Ruby.

Choices

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Cameo Ulbricht Happy New Year!! Looking back on this past year, I have realized some of the choices I made were not the best; they hurt my family, but in a sense made us stronger in the end. I have matured a lot this year through experiences that I should have not chosen, but I also know that they have taught me important lessons. One choice that I know was the right one is being here. Having been here at the Academy for only a semester, I am thankful for the possibilities that I am given. Every day is a challenge, but I know after three more years, the hard work will have paid off.

Being able to see my family back home after more than six months of having to be gone was great. Christmas break was very relaxing, and could not have come at a more perfect time. Most days I just wanted to stay home and watch movies all day and do pretty much nothing because daily life as a cadet keeps us busy. It was also great to see my friends from high school. Seeing them this time coming home was a little bit different from coming home from prep school. One factor could be I had lost contact with most of my friends due to not having Facebook privileges, or that most of us are doing our own thing now. We were told this would happen, and I had thought because I did not experience this last year, that it wouldn’t happen to me. It’s a horrible feeling to be with many of your close friends and not be able to connect with them anymore, or have no desire to talk to them about their college life. It may not happen to some people, but just know that when you get back to the Academy, that your shipmates will be more than happy to see you.

Now what we have to look forward to is eventually getting carry-on, getting through boards successfully, and maintaining the standards we have set for ourselves. Best of luck to you as you continue the last bit of your senior year!

More about Cameo.

A Look Back

(Academics, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Cameo Ulbricht Looking back now on the entire semester, it went pretty well. Some of the frustrating moments were working hard on getting good grades, and not receiving a grade that reflected the effort that was put forth. With the help from my shipmates in similar classes, I made it through what people say is the toughest semester at the Academy. Cross country in the fall is a wonderful stress reliever, and such a great transition into the school year. The meets on the weekends were perfect for a busy schedule during the week.

Come time for midterms, most of the 4/c were ready to be somewhere else. A lot often talked about going to different colleges, because they are missing out on so much. But the truth is, those at regular colleges are missing out on so much. Even though we don’t throw huge parties every weekend and sleep in late, only to get up minutes before your first class to throw on a pair of sweatpants and in hopes of not falling asleep during another boring lecture. Right now all we get to do is attend school, the occasional training, stay up late working on homework, and a dinner at the mall. But after these next grueling four years we will be able to see and do so much more than our friends in “regular college”.

Finals week was but a blur of staying up late to get the last bit of information you could before you were forced to sit in a room for three hours proving that despite maybe sleeping in class, you did learn something about intermolecular forces, or how to calculate advance and transfer. We formed a little study group with people that had the same finals, and had a plan of how to review for the test. Everyone had different skill levels in each subject, which enabled us to use each other’s strengths. I feel that we prepared pretty well for finals, and didn’t stay up too late.

More about Cameo.

Staying Focused

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Cameo Ulbricht It’s hard to believe that we are almost half way through the semester. At first school wasn’t too bad, the occasional test, homework assignment, English paper. Now it seems that we have a least one test if not two a week, research papers, and countless homework assignments due on the same day. I have learned quickly to function on 4 or less hours of sleep, from having to stay up late studying for important tests, or from lack of good time management. There have been a few times where I have been part of spirit missions (meant to raise moral), which require us to wake up early. Midterm grades weren’t…bad…let’s just say that I left room for improvement. I have already seen a change in two subjects. One particular class where I have been working exceptionally hard in is Calculus, and still not where I want to be. This past test the average grade across the board was a 58%. Most of us attended numerous CAAP sessions, study groups and meetings with our teachers and still did not do well.

Our regional cross country meet was this past weekend, and we even got to wear civvies! My first time since coming to Swab Summer. It was a very relaxing weekend of great food and company. Our team managed to run away with a 13th overall finish out of 51 teams. The weather was a bit brisk but we competed pretty well despite the weather.

It’s been difficult to stay focused as the end of the semester draws near. Thanksgiving break is only a week away, and soon after that Christmas Leave. Hopefully our internal motivation can help us through the last little bit.

Have a great holiday season!

More about Cameo.

I Would Not Choose To Be Anywhere Else

(Academics, Athletics, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Cameo Ulbricht This is my first submission as a 4/c. The summer itself flew by, and now Swab Summer is only a blur of indoc quizzes, countless push-ups, and six-minute showers (yes, that is possible). School is going pretty well, a few rough days, but that is to be expected with the duties we have as 4/c. Company orderlies, clocks for formation, school, homework, sports practice, division responsibilities, and duty rotations, and preparing our uniform. The transition from prep school in New Mexico has been smooth, as we have already experienced managing a rigorous academic and athletic schedule. One thing I keep in mind is that about 250 other people like me are going through the same thing, and then it doesn’t seem as bad. Midterms are around the corner which has a lot of us stressed out due to the flurry of tests and research papers, and the plethora of homework assignments we “ accidently” put off until the night before. What are a few late nights and study groups now and then? Luckily, I have only had a couple of really late nights.

Our cross country team continues to perform really well. We are currently ranked 10th in Division III for New England, and hopefully after our meet this weekend, we can climb up in the ranking. Our team has a strong bond, which helps with our successful performance. It’s comforting to know that I have 20 other girls to go to for help in classes, or for help personally. The long runs and hard workouts during practice help relieve stress, and unwind from the busy day of classes. Everyday I look forward to cross country, even though not many people would admit they enjoy running for fun.

Academy life by no means is easy, but I would not choose to be anywhere else. At the end of the day I have more appreciation for life, and the opportunities it has to offer.

More about Cameo.

Reflections

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Ellie Wu The other day, I received an unexpected email from my older sister with her reflections on 2011 and it inspired me to respond to her as I took some time away from moving into in my new room at the Academy, to reflect on myself over the previous year.

So here is an excerpt of my email that is directed to my sister:

I really liked getting your 2011 Reflections email. I actually needed that email in a sense because I realized I have not written much in a while and it is a good way to get my thoughts out and reflect on my year since 2011 was a year full of changes for both you and I. I also figured that I could spend some time reflecting before the academic semester starts; before I get jammed with homework. As the little sister, I’m going to follow your lead and try to go through 2011 in a somewhat chronological sense.

January was a huge turning point for me when I realized that yes, I can enjoy my senior year, but for once in my life there was a definite sense of direction in my life; a future with the Coast Guard whether I was really sure of that career path or not. I remember getting the phone call on January 14th and I remember feeling bittersweet about my acceptance. What if I didn’t like the Academy? What if I didn’t make it through Swab Summer or the academic year? There were a lot of what ifs, and I didn’t want to throw away the current, relaxing, predictable life I was living now. But, I realized senior year didn’t last forever and that there was no other college choice that gave me a sense of purpose than USCGA. So, I sucked it up and accepted that I had to grow up and just enjoy the rest of senior year. I think the sense of pride and support from my family was what kept me from chickening out of Swab Summer and the USCGA all together.

February was my chance to finally visit you at your USCG Training Center at Petaluma, California and it was also my very first time flying solo on a plane. It was also my first time in California so that was nice. I loved seeing you more grown up and more independent, which gave me more confidence in my decision to attend the Coast Guard Academy because it positively influenced your character. Seeing you in California was another turning point for me since I really gained a lot of respect toward you as a sister, through basic training and “A” school, being enlisted in the Coast Guard has made the whole family very proud. Also, you never cease to be an amazing tour guide whether we’re in New York City or San Francisco!

March was fun. I had a really great time choreographing Chinese Ribbon Dance for Festival of Nations (cultural show at my high school) for the 3rd and final time and I also got the opportunity to learn and be in the Filipino cultural dance called, tinikling. I tried not to focus too much on my Swab Summer awaiting for me on June 27th and enjoyed my last months as a senior at Townsend Harris High School.

April was an absolute blast because I got to go to Disney World for my spring break with my mom and my boyfriend. It was nice to show my boyfriend, Brian, my childhood and for him to kind of remember his (since he went to Disney once when he was very young). Although, many of my friends thought it was strange that I was going to Disney with my boyfriend and my mom, I really liked how it worked out. It was a lot of fun to have both someone I have loved since I was born and someone I love that has more recently made an impact on my life. It was turning point number three for me because I learned to combine my past and my present/future. I got to reminisce with my mom while continuing our long line of memories at Disney with her. On the other hand, I got to make new memories with Brian. I just so happened to return from Florida on my birthday so according to New York City Law, I was finally able to drive BY MYSELF on my 18th birthday. It was another little step toward growing up.

May and June were the months indicating the end of high school and the start of college for me. I had great parties and closing memories with friends, including prom, my going away party, a 10-year Time Capsule I made with friends and buried in my back yard, and just wrapping up my four years at THHS. Go figure, turning point four was Swab Summer! I learned a lot about selflessness, a lot about teamwork, and a lot about myself. I really learned through what the cadre had to say. I learned through the punishments and through the pride Echo Company cadre had for us Echo Swabs. Through the cadre’s example, I also saw what type of person I wanted to become. I did a lot of reflecting during the summer since you can’t really talk to anyone else besides yelling your “Aye Aye/Yes, Sir or Ma’am.” I saw how selfish I have been over the years, which came as a shock. I saw how the family’s lifestyles revolved around my figure skating career, how you were always seen as rebellious and misunderstood during your teenage years, which had mom and dad treat you with less patience and me with more patience because I never objected to their arguments and always thought they were right and I was wrong. I never challenged them like you did. Through Swab Summer, I saw how the whole family would always find a way to work things out; to let me get what I want and the first 18 years of my life came easy for me. Swab Summer was something I thought I really had to work for without the backing of my family to ease the process. I mean you guys supported me through letters, but you guys couldn’t actually change Swab Summer. It was the time to really learn about responsibility and how to care for others before caring for myself. I really admire that trait about you and how you have always cared for me and the family over yourself.

August/September I had a huge sense of pride and accomplishment! Then the academic semester started along with my first cross country season on the CGA’s team. Turning point five was learning to enjoy running again and realizing that improvement comes with enjoying the sport and pushing yourself because you like it not because you have to improve. There was no pressure in being great on the team so I finally saw why I liked to run and enjoyed everything about cross country except for rolling my left ankle multiple times.

October was a great time to see you on your birthday and I was getting into the whole military/USCGA routine. I think my turning point number six would be a combination of October, November, and December. I realized how much I love my family and how much I miss them and how I would jump at any opportunity to be with you guys. I really see the difference between our family and how other college students rarely go home to visit their families. I guess, it might also be because I go to the Coast Guard Academy, specifically.

November/December is the last of my turning points (seven) where the semester is coming to an end and all my classes actually turned out fairly well with the exception of Calculus. For the final turning point, I had a little setback with responsibility over the winter break with losing my cell phone and not planning out the Christmas dinner. I think I fell too quickly back into the relaxed mood without maintaining some traits I learned and developed at the Academy. However, I mainly learned the importance of communication over winter leave and how I tend to block everything out especially as I reflect back on my semester. Yes, it was good to concentrate on my academics, but I realized that I need to keep a consistent relationship and consistently communicate with my family. That was something I was particularly thinking about and it’s carried into the New Year. So, my turning point number seven is more like a New Year’s resolution.

Slowly, yet surely your little sister is growing up! Cheers to the New Year!

More about Ellie.

Roadtrip to a Normal College

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Ellie Wu Tuesday was my last final and I was so relieved to be done with my first semester at the Coast Guard Academy. Besides all the studying that I had to do, the finals week itself was pretty relaxing because within Chase Hall, everything got a little less hectic since they want to provide as much of a stress-free environment as possible to enable all the cadets to study and perform their best on their finals. I had four finals in total, starting with my hardest, Calculus I. I took that final Friday morning, and then there was Fundamentals of Navigation on Saturday afternoon, Macroeconomics on Monday morning, and Chemistry Tuesday afternoon. During finals week, the library became my home and it really allowed me to study and focus on all the material that was covered in a certain subject over the course of the semester. In Chase Hall, there is the chance of people coming by, asking questions and just stopping in and that can cause quite a distraction, but at the library I was able to pace myself and study. The finals weren't as bad as I thought they would be, although I was losing some of my steam/motivation to study toward the end. The day before my Chemistry final and during the exam, I could feel the tension and itch everyone had because their trip home was just a multiple choice question away.

Once my Chemistry final was over, I packed up my necessities and it was back to my "concrete jungle" (Empire state of mind). I got to show two of my friends from the Academy the city with all its Christmas decorations up and the holiday market at Union Square to shop at. It felt amazing to be back at home without a worry in the world. It was as if the cold winter breeze swept all the weight of the Academy off my shoulders.

On Friday, I was able to visit a State University of New York where most of my friends from high school currently attend. At Stony Brook, I noticed how different my college experience is compared to theirs. My friends laughed at me when I told them I slept at 11 p.m. on a regular basis and woke up at 5:45. My friends, on the other hand, slept at 2 a.m. every night, the earliest, and would struggle to wake up and attend their 9 a.m. Calculus class. The lifestyle was just so foreign to me. I found their college experience more relaxing and laidback and I enjoyed it while I was there, but I realized I would not like the nonchalant vibe if I was studying there. Visiting my friends and getting a taste of the “college life” really got me to understand the saying: “Work hard, play hard”. After working hard and locking down both militarily and academically, I was able to truly appreciate my winter leave and enjoy the time. Although winter leave was too short, it has me pushing forward and working forward to the next and last semester as a 4/c!

More about Ellie.

The Final Straightaway

(Academics, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Ellie Wu As the semester is coming to an end it seems harder and harder to stay focused. Times like these can get really stressful because all the work is piling up. I’m trying to take each day as a cross country race. At this point, it’s the part of the race where you’re tired and you just want to finish and relax. It’s the point when you have to be the most mentally strong, the point where you see the final straightaway, the finish, but you’re not quite there. This part of the race is the hardest because you can’t lose focus of the present with the plans for the future. It’s that final push you have to give yourself to reach the finish successfully. I can feel myself getting complacent, but I realize that like a cross country race if you focus on each step and each breath, the finish will come before you know it. Academically, I have to focus on each class and each exam, and each military obligation and before I know it, it’ll be Thanksgiving Leave and then Winter Leave. It’s definitely crunch time at the Coast Guard Academy. Time to push through the final straightaway so you can cross the finish line, look back, and feel satisfied about what you have just accomplished.

More about Ellie.

Two Worlds

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Ellie Wu Today’s Columbus Day and I just came back from a long weekend at home. I’m one of the fortunate cadets that live relatively close to the Academy so whenever I get the chance, I love going home. Don’t get me wrong, I love being at the Academy too, but it’s different. Being home and being at the Academy is like two completely different worlds. At home, it’s a relaxing, comfortable, and familiar place with my family and the friends I have grown up with. At the Academy, it’s more of a mystery, especially as a 4/c, figuring everything out, adapting, and growing through this whole experience. I love the Academy in the sense that I feel like I’m growing up, handling more responsibilities, and achieving more here than at any other college. These two worlds (my home and the Academy) are complete opposites, which I think is kind of cool.

A lot of times, I feel like Bruce Wayne when I jump back and forth between my life at home and my life at the Academy. When I am at home, I live the normal life: watching TV/movies, hanging out, pigging out, and not having a care in the world. This weekend, I was able to have dinner with my family and talk for hours catching up and then we watched movies till 3 in the morning. When it came time to head back to the Academy however, putting on trops is just like putting on the Batsuit. Once I changed, I was no longer Bruce Wayne; I became Batman and had to resume my responsibilities and duties.

Sometimes, it’s hard to leave the “easy” life behind, but it’s the challenging lifestyle that is ultimately the most rewarding.

More about Ellie.

Coming Back

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Spencer Zwenger We’ve just started the first week of classes back from winter leave and there have been a lot of emotions flowing. Initially I was pretty upset to be going back, solely because after acting like a real person (and not a fourth class) for two weeks it is extremely difficult to get back into that mindset. However, one of the big things that made it a lot easier was seeing my friends. When all of us started arriving it was like seeing all of my best friends from back home after not seeing them for six months. The only difference was that we were only gone two weeks and we acted like we hadn’t seen each other in a long time. That kind of gives you an idea of how close my classmates and I have become in the very short time we have been here. Nevertheless, after initially being quite disappointed to be back, I’m excited to start this semester and then get on with third class summer.

Another something to touch on is long distance relationships. Quite a few of my friends have had these since they’ve been here, and I was always the one that said it would be way to hard and is kind of pointless. However, over the break I got myself into one of these long distance relationships that I looked down upon for so long. So far it has been working out pretty well for me as well as the other people that I know that keep them. If you’re hesitant, all I can say is give it a try and if it works out good, if not, nothing lost, nothing gained. As always if you have any questions send me an email at Spencer.M.Zwenger@uscga.edu.

More about Spencer.

Quick

(Academics, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Spencer Zwenger In about a half hour I go to take my last final for this semester. As I said in my previous blog, the first semester here goes by extremely quickly. I’ve been here nearly six months and it seems like I’ve only been here about a month. Anyway back to the topic of interest, finals. A time where the whole corps of cadets is pretty relaxed but stressed at the same time. I say relaxed because the only things you have to worry about are the finals that you have yet to take. However, everyone is stressed because the finals are a big part of your grade. When you aren’t sleeping, eating, or taking a test, you try and find a couple hours to sit down and study. After finals, it will be the first time that I get to go home since the day that I reported in. There isn’t a feeling greater than knowing you get to go home and tell everyone what you have been doing for the past six months. Especially when this place isn’t the typical “college experience.” Even better than getting to see your family though, is the much-needed break everyone is given from the Academy. A time where we all can just go sit on the couch and relax, something that is extremely rare for this place. Any questions? Email me at Spencer.M.Zwenger@uscga.edu.

More about Spencer.

Settling In

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Spencer Zwenger The year has really started to settle in, in fact it is already coming to an end. I have made a lot of friends and had a lot of good experiences in the four and a half months that I have been here, but that is not to say this year hasn’t had it’s downsides. Academically I haven’t been struggling but it definitely hasn’t been a breeze either. Some of the 4/c rules and regulations have really started to get annoying; nevertheless I realize that all of the upperclassmen went through the exact same thing and you just have to stick it out. If your interested in this school, you can’t come in with the mindset that you’re going to make it through all by yourself or without any struggles. Between the hours put into schoolwork, many military obligations, and at least two hours of sports everyday, you must ask for help from peers and teachers and are prepared to put up with, what seems like pointless, rules all the time. In the end a lot of the things this year have definitely helped develop my discipline level, something that is essential for the rest of my Coast Guard career. As always email me with any questions. Go Bears!

More about Spencer.

Hours

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Spencer Zwenger The first half of my first semester is coming to an end, and it has been extremely difficult to say the least. You are told numerous times that you will be putting in hours upon hours in homework and stressing before every test, but you don’t believe it until you’re really experiencing it. I’m taking around twenty credit hours much more than some of my best friends at home. In addition I am not able to start homework until around 1800 (6:00 p.m.) because I have diving practice from 1600-1800 everyday. As daunting as this place may seem, there is help available everywhere. Every teacher is willing to stay after class, or make an appointment later to spend some one-on-one time until you grab the concepts. In addition, the numerous peer tutors and cadet academic assistant program (CAAP) are also there to help. This place will challenge everyone academically, no matter what your background is, so don’t let academics scare you away. The hours that you put into this place are all worth it in the end. As one of my professors says, “Work hard, play hard.”

More about Spencer.

Balancing Academics

(Academics, Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Meredith Anderson Coming back this year, I thought, “hey, I’m not a fourth class, I have carry on, this year is going to be a breeze.” Boy, was I wrong. Yes, I moved up in the ranks in the Corps of Cadets, but I also managed to increase the number of hours worth of things I put into each day. This semester, on top of my academic overload, I am being pulled in multiple directions from my various extracurricular activities.

Academically this year, I am taking 22.5 credits. My schedule contains the following classes: Peer Tutoring (1 credit), Mechanics of Materials (3.5 credits), American Government (3 credits), Criminal Justice (3 credits), Multivariable Calculus (3 credits), Professional Rescuer (2 credits), Physics I (4 credits) and Leadership and Organizational Behavior (3 credits) and Offshore Sail Racing, which is simply a placeholder allowing me to have last period off. Midterm grades last week were bittersweet—although my cumulative GPA dropped a little bit, my average is still high enough to earn me a Gold Star (having a GPA of over 3.15).

The peer tutoring in my schedule requires me to spend 25 hours tutoring over the course of the semester, which I am finding to be nowhere near as difficult as I thought it would be at the beginning of the semester. Originally, I didn’t think it was going to be doable, but surprisingly enough, many of the underclassmen have started coming to me when they need help with things, and halfway through the semester, I have over 20 hours of tutoring.

Although my schedule says Offshore Sail Racing, I am on the Dinghy Sailing team as a heavy crew. We travel just about every weekend, unless it’s a home regatta, and last year the team ranked 8th in national championships. This year, the fall season has been interesting to say the least, as almost every regatta has had either no wind or too much wind. My parents have come to two different regattas to see me, and have been disappointed by the weather not permitting me to sail.

Also this year, I went on the Catholic Labor Day retreat. Last year, I didn’t go, but this year, because I didn’t go home and my parents didn’t come up for Labor Day weekend, I decided to go on the retreat. It was one of the best choices I could have made. I got to know some of the new fourth class really well, outside of Chase Hall, in a non-military environment. We had a great time strengthening not only our faith but our relationships with other members of the Catholic Club. While we were at the retreat center, we prayed, played games and even got to spend some time with the ex-Choir directors, Ma and Pa Bowen.

Finally, I got the chance to return to the Naval Justice School as a juror for their closing exercises of a mock trial. The trial I sat in on had Coasties arguing both sides, as well as the Chief Judge for the Coast Guard judging the mock exercises. I learned many things from them and gained valuable insight. I love when opportunities such as that arise, because it gives me perspective on possible career paths, even though I am no longer a government major.

At the end of last year, I switched my major from government to civil engineering. Although in my heart, I love government and know that’s what I want to do in the future with my career, I’m accepting civil engineering as my new major at the Academy as a challenge of sorts. I want to prove to myself that I am capable of surviving as an engineer, and also to be able to be empathetic to engineers in the future, after I've become involved in a legal career path. The engineering faculty here has been great in helping me switch my major, pass my engineering classes, and even allow me to take as many government-related classes as is physically possible.

Having said this about the faculty in the engineering department, I should stress that every department here is like that. The math department is helping me to continue passing my math courses, especially multivariable calculus. The government and legal departments, although they keep trying to convince me to come back to the government major, are still supporting me. They allowed me to take a junior year course during my sophomore year, just to keep government in my life. They have also encouraged me to get involved and stay involved in mock trial, just to keep myself sharp and well versed in legal matters.

Overall, this year has been tough, and at times disheartening. But then there are the days that are awesome to balance it out. Days where I get a test back and did great, days where it’s really windy on the water and we race well. Days when I don’t have a lot of work and have a little bit of down time to hang out with my friends. And let me be very clear. Although days like that may be few, and far between, it’s worth waiting for them, because they are what make this place the awesome experience that it is.

More about Meredith.

Ready to be Back

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Meredith Anderson WOW! It’s midterm already! I haven’t written in a while, but it doesn’t seem like that long since I have. It feels like it was just a few weeks ago when I was on Christmas Leave, at home in New York, enjoying the presence of my friends and family, and the lack of the Academy (at least on a short-term basis).

Christmas leave took me home. I had a great time catching up with all of my friends, attended Golden Mass (a large Christmas celebration at my alma mater high school), ringing bells for the Salvation Army with my dad, and just being home. Being able to drive my truck or the bobcat, being able to roll around in the snow in my front yard like an immature child, and of course experiencing the joys and warmth that comes with the Christmas season and the presence of family. (As an aside, I received some wonderful presents, the most useful and probably my favorite of which came from my aunt, was a new kind of chicken noodle soup! It’s made by Campbell’s, comes in a package which makes it look like it’s freeze dried, and all you do is add water. Then, voila! Delicious soup appears!) By the time I got back in January, however, I was more than ready. I found that I kinda missed the Academy environment—the people, the routine, and most of all not ever being bored.

As the new term started, I got a whole round of new classes, teachers, and even a new room. It’s funny actually, that my room moved four doors down the hall (still pretty much in the middle of nowhere, with a beautiful view of the river), and my best friend moved into my old room. He jokes that this is his second semester living in that room, seeing as he would always come to visit me last semester. My new roommate and I were roommates over Swab Summer, and work well together. My classes this semester include Probability and Statistics, Statics and Engineering Design (SED), Chemistry II, Leaders in U.S. History, Honors English, Principles of Fitness II and Personal Defense; and even with all these classes, I managed to get free periods, unlike last semester. I happen to be the only freshman in my Probability and Statistics class, which is a little uncomfortable (especially when your Company Commander sits right behind you) and we have yet to learn about any leaders in Leaders of U.S .History, but besides that I find my classes enjoyable enough. I have the same Chemistry teacher I had last semester by request, and ended up taking afternoon classes just to have him; if I hadn’t been picky my schedule would have been stacked to have no afternoon classes any day of the week except Chemistry Lab on Tuesday afternoons.

Also, as the semester started, I was pulled from the swim team due to my shoulder injury. I played intercompany sports in the interim between swimming and being accepted onto my new team, Dinghy Sailing. As to Bowling Club, West Point stood us up—so we rescheduled yet again.

For Martin Luther King Jr. Day I went home with a Ray Henderson to Boston. His family took outstanding care of me while I there and extended unrivaled hospitality to me. It was a new experience for me, actually staying and being in a BIG city for a weekend, especially given the fact that I’m a small town girl.

As February crept toward us, all of the fourth class began studying immensely for our 4/c indoctrination “Boards”. I did not pass on my first try, much to my dismay. A pass is considered attaining eight questions correct out of ten; my first try I got seven and a half points—and failed by ½ of a point. My second try, however, I aced it—got all ten questions right. Boy, does it feel good to have that weight off my shoulders. I can actually concentrate on my school work now, instead of neglecting it to study for Boards.

Last weekend, President’s Day, I got to go home. A classmate of mine, who ironically enough used to go to school with me, was driving home and lives forty minutes from me. Naturally, I took the opportunity to go. It was so nice to be able to jump in the car to go shopping or get food, instead of having to wait for the libo bus; but the best part: I wore jeans or fuzzy non-issued GRAY sweatpants with some manner of shirt that had no blue in it (even if just about any outfit was accompanied by my issued Sperry Docksiders). The craziest part of the weekend adventure had to be flying back to school though. In Rochester, deicing the plane took over an hour, instead of the usual forty minutes and our plane literally could not get to the runway and got stuck heading out, only to have to be rescued by the tug boat of airports.

Finally, after finishing everything up this week, I departed on recruiting leave and arrived home very late, well actually early this morning. I will be home for two days, and then fly into Boston in order to then fly to Florida with my friends for spring break. It should be awesome!

More about Meredith.

The End of the Semester

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Meredith Anderson It really is quite hard to believe that the end of the semester is approaching so rapidly! When I think about it, at this time next week I will be sitting for my first exam of my collegiate career, and three days after that I will be going home for three weeks. The home stretch between Thanksgiving leave and Christmas has been incredibly quick, but Thanksgiving break was a much needed chance to revitalize and, honestly, catch up on some sleep.

While I was on Thanksgiving break, I got a chance to tour the Point Judith Lighthouse and Station, simply by telling them that I was a cadet here at the Academy. It was a really great opportunity, to say the least, and it helped to give me an idea of the possible summer assignments that I could get.

Just before that, I celebrated my 18th birthday, and my first birthday away from home. The weekend prior, my parents drove to New York City and surprised me for my first collegiate swim meet, with cake in tow, of course. Then, I got to spend my birthday with some of my best friends and, of course, the Chase Hall Duty Officer for that day, who also happens to be my Nautical Science teacher. He thought it necessary to drop by my room and inform me that he could hear me clear across Chase Hall—as well as to re-emphasize that the amount of food within my room was slightly absurd.

Anyway, it’s clearly Christmas-time in Chase Hall, with everyone adorning their room with various holiday decorations. My room has a fiber optic Christmas tree, stockings on our door and everywhere throughout the room, a gingerbread house, and roughly eleven strings of Christmas lights decking out any surface to which they can be blue-tacked. My 1/c’s room has an inflatable Christmas tree with a door that sings any time someone trips the motion sensor, and down the hall from me we have a room that has the lighted reindeer, which most people would be accustomed to seeing on a lawn, instead of in a barracks room. Anyway, its lovely and cheery—and everyone is of course excited to go home!

Just yesterday, a fourth class cadet got to be the Assistant Commandant of Cadets for a day. Moira McNeil got promoted to an O-5 for the day and granted the fourth class carry on for the day, as well as a corps-wide laterack for Monday (which means that everyone gets to sleep in until 0730, as opposed to having to be up for our normal 0620 formation).

And just to make this last stretch a little bit better, we have a Holiday Formal this weekend. Lucky me, I get to wear an ungodly and ill-fitting dinner dress uniform—which is every bit as painful as it may look (although I might wear the pants, and not the skirt to ease the pain), as well as being escorted by a table of guys. It’s a good thing they are all like siblings to me, or it could potentially be an extremely awkward situation. In either case, it certainly will be the people that make the night, and definitely not the attire. In precisely a week and three days, I will be at home and somehow I find myself being fairly certain that I will actually miss this place and the people that make the Academy what it is.

More about Meredith.

Downright Awesome

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Meredith Anderson This semester, overall, has been a blast. I find myself surrounded by intelligent, funny, and awesome people, and not only within my class. The upper-class, who act as mentors, are always willing to put their needs and wants aside in order to help out a fourth class, whether it be with personal, military or academic issues. The people here are unlike those you will meet anywhere else.

Speaking of a group of awesome people, the swim team is another example. Everyone on it is so welcoming and downright awesome. It’s like a family, with 70 or so siblings. Coach is great too. As an injured swimmer, I have yet to swim in a meet…but we’re hoping for this weekend. On top of being understanding and looking very long range, coach really understands if you can’t make practice (for a legitimate reason, such as academics).

Academics are pretty rigorous here. I have a full schedule, complete with one free period a week (which happens to get consumed by swim practice). My classes include Macroeconomics, Chemistry, Principles of Fitness and Wellness, Fundamentals of Navigation, English, and Calculus 2. I have an “introduction to college” class, as well.

Other things I do to keep myself busy, as if I’m not busy enough, include Rosary Group, Catholic Club, Bowling Club, and author the class-wide articles for the Alumni Bulletin. The great thing about the Academy is that you’re busy all the time, but not to the point where it’s extremely overwhelming. I remember growing up thinking what a pain church was, and was so sure once I left home that I’d stop going to church, but now that I’m actually away from home its so nice to have mass on Sunday morning, and Wednesday night vespers (mass), and Rosary group and Catholic Club. It’s kind of like having a getaway when it gets rough—somewhere you can collect your thoughts and just focus yourself. Believe it or not, I think the Academy is helping my faith grow, even after graduating from an all-girls Catholic school.

Bowling club is another example of a getaway. It’s one of the instances where even though you are with upper-class members, you can relax and have a good time. They also have many great stories and Academy wisdom to share. Some day I’ll be an upper-class too, and when I am, I will have plenty of stories, too. Whether they are from Swab Summer, or various spirit missions (practical pranks that raise morale), our class has no shortage of hilarious stories and we aren’t even through the first semester yet.

Finally, Thanksgiving break is approaching. For many of my classmates it will be the first time they have been home since we reported in. Even though this isn’t the case for me, and I’m not going home (by my own choice), I am still really excited to get some time away from campus and to have some down time to just chill with family and friends. It should be a great time.

If you have any questions about daily life, or really anything Academy-related, my email is Meredith.M.Anderson@uscga.edu, and you’re more than welcome to contact me. I’ll do my best to answer questions.

More about Meredith.

Busy, Busy, Busy

(Academics, Athletics, Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Nick Capuzzi As you may have noticed, I didn’t write an October journal entry. “Why?,” you may ask. Well, it’s because I stretched myself too thin.

First of all, I have my academic classes, which are the hardest I’ve taken thus far. Mechanics of Materials and Multivariable Calculus are the two that require the most time and effort.

On top of all that class and homework are military obligations, like trainings and lectures. Plus, I am a drill-down trainer. Drill-down is a military skills competition between fourth class cadets in different companies. The winner gets carry-on for a week. As a trainer, I spend time in the mornings and evenings helping the fourth class cadets in my company prepare.

Now time for athletics! The Offshore Sailing Team practices a minimum of eight hours per week. On top of that, we have regattas on weekends that can take the whole weekend. I enjoy every minute of sailing, but each is also one less minute I have to work with.

In addition to all of that, I somehow thought it would be a good idea to audition for the fall show, “Murder Runs in the Family.” So, after landing the role of Claude, I had a month of rehearsals five nights a week, making me even busier.

I don’t want to you to think that I wasn’t enjoying myself during this time, though. Well, homework isn’t very enjoyable, but other than that, I was. I enjoyed seeing my hard work pay off when one of my fourth class placed in drill-down, or when I came in first place overall for a team regatta, or most of all when we performed “Murder Runs in the Family” in front of two large audiences.

Speaking of the play, it was a great experience. The show itself was entirely produced by cadets, with the ever-dramatic 1/C Logan Donahey as director. By coordinating rehearsals around already packed schedules, we were able to put together a show that I believe was quite enjoyable. Plus, I got to work with some awesome fellow actors, people like 3/C Pat Kelly, who had more lines than everyone else put together, and 2/C Sarah Hohenberger, who played two different characters. Everyone did an amazing job! When the curtains opened, we all were anxious to show off the hard work we had put into it. We left it all on the stage for two performances, and hopefully those that attended had as much fun watching it as we did producing it.

The Coast Guard Academy has a variety of extracurricular activities. Drama Club, Investment Club, and Genesis Council are just a few of the many cadet-led clubs we have. Whatever your interest, there is probably an activity for you to enjoy.

As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to send me an email. I will make every effort to answer it in a timely fashion.

Go Bears!
Nicholas.P.Capuzzi@uscga.edu

More about Nick.

3c Freedom

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Nick Capuzzi So, when you last heard from me, I was just about to head to Coast Guard Barque Eagle for a trans-Atlantic journey from London to Boston, with stops in Reykjavík and Halifax. I’m happy to report that I survived the howling gales of the North Atlantic and the drifting ice of the Arctic. Eagle was a very unique experience and it allowed me to visit some cool places.

After Eagle, I headed back to Texas for my three weeks of leave. After twenty days of rest and relaxation, it was back to the Academy to start another year.

This year is off to a much better start than last year, mostly due to the fact that I am no longer a fourth class. I can walk, talk, and eat like a normal person. But with being a third class comes a whole different set of responsibilities. No longer followers, the Class of 2014 is expected to act as role models for the Class of 2015. Also, third class cadets are responsible for organizing and administrating the cadet watch sections as the Junior Cadet Duty Officer. It’s quite a leap from simply bracing up and squaring meals.

The academic year is shaping up to be a tough one, with classes like Multivariable Calculus, Mechanics of Materials, and Physics. The good news is that professors make themselves very available, so there is always someone you can go to for help.

After a hard day of classes, there‘s nothing like letting your frustration out on the sports field, which, in my case is the Thames River. For the start of the Offshore Sailing season, I’ve become a Colgate skipper, teaching fourth class some basic sailing skills, and a pit man on Glory, our J/44 sailboat. This season is shaping up to be a fun one.

Overall, the start of third class year presents a freedom previously unknown inside Chase Hall. It also, however, presents a totally new set of experiences and challenges.

Go Bears!
Nicholas.P.Capuzzi@usgca.edu

More about Nick.

Fun in FMB

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Nick Capuzzi So, my fourth class year at the Coast Guard Academy has come to an end. I am now a third class cadet. What a great feeling! I’m sure several of my classmates will go into more detail about why it’s so great, so I’ll move on and let you read it from them.

For the past four weeks, I have been assigned to the Coast Guard Cutter Marlin in Fort Myers Beach, Florida. It has been a really unique and exciting experience.

The Marlin only has a crew of twelve, so I was right alongside them, taking part in everything. I served as Communications Officer during a commercial fishing vessel boarding, using radios and cell phones to liaise between the Boarding Officer, the Captain, Sector Saint Petersburg, and the El Paso Intelligence Center. I piloted the ship on a return cruise from Tampa Bay and served as the plugman during damage control drills.

They weren’t all glorious duties though. I spent hours sanding, priming, and painting and even more scrubbing the sides to keep them white. And, in what many of the crew consider my most important contribution, I spent three hours on the phone with DirecTV to get our satellite fixed so we could watch TV again.

I’ve never been seasick before, but as the crew warned me, the 87’ coastal patrol boat is the worst-riding ship in the Coast Guard. After several hours of pitching up and down with waves breaking over the bridge, I could no longer say I’d never been seasick.

We carried out our law enforcement mission excellently, finding illegal crabbers and shrimpers with narcotics on board. It was quite an experience for my first visit to the operational Coast Guard.

Pretty soon, I’ll be heading to Eagle to sail across the Atlantic. Then, I’ll be returning to the Academy for my third class year. As I thought yesterday while lying on the beach sipping a non-alcoholic piña colada, life is good.

Go Bears!

More about Nick.

Looking Back…

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Nick Capuzzi The weekend of April 15-17, I had the opportunity to attend a sailing regatta at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. As we entered the gates, I realized that the last time I had been at the Naval Academy was Summer Seminar 2009. Once we were on campus, I saw a group of fourth class midshipman, a group that I could have been a part of. It got me thinking about why Navy was my second choice, behind the Coast Guard Academy.

It was around seventh grade when I decided that I wanted to go into the military. Originally, due to my love of the water, the Navy was my choice. I joined the Naval Sea Cadet Corps to learn more about it, and found myself spending two weeks at Coast Guard Station Ocean City, Maryland. It was really my first exposure to the amazing men and women that make up the United States Coast Guard, and I enjoyed my time there so much that I was back again the next year, learning even more. As time went by, my aspirations slowly shifted toward the Coast Guard.

Then, the summer before my senior year, I attended the Naval Academy Summer Seminar (NASS) and the Coast Guard Academy Introduction Mission (AIM). At NASS, I arrived to warm, cheerful faces welcoming me to the Naval Academy. I received a guided tour, went to some classes, and had one day of mock plebe summer. At AIM, I stepped off the bus to be greeted by a uniformed second class cadet screaming at me to move faster. I had to stand at attention, greet upper-class, and memorize basic Coast Guard knowledge. AIM made NASS look like Camp Navy and further reinforced my decision to make Coast Guard my top school.

Now that fourth class year is almost over, I’m glad I made that decision. The size of the Coast Guard Corps of Cadets is smaller than the freshman class at Navy. It is less of a student body and more of an extended family. True, the fact that we fourth class now have carry-on definitely makes my outlook twice as bright, but even during Swab Summer I felt people looking out for me, people who had my back.

I don’t mean this to say that Navy is not a good choice, simply that it wasn’t my choice.

Go Bears!
-Nick
Feel free to send questions: Nicholas.P.Capuzzi@uscga.edu

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Back Again

(Academics, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Nick Capuzzi Welcome back to second semester! Now here we go…

That is pretty much how this semester started. Everything seems to be rushed. The first semester began slowly, and then accelerated after midterms. Now, after three weeks of life on the outside, we came straight back to that increased tempo.

All of my professors are great. They are also very giving people, as in they give you tons of homework. I just finished the first draft of one of three papers I have due in the next week. I also had a calculus test this morning.

Three days ago, I had so much work to do that I worked non-stop from 1600-2300, went to bed, woke up, and worked for another two hours. Then, having finished all my assignments, I went to class and as rewarded with even more.

There is a lot of work to do at the Academy, but there is also a lot of help available. I spent an hour trying to finish one problem for Statics and Engineering Design. Try as I might, I could not get the right answer. So I walked over to MacAllister Hall, paid a visit to my professor, and we spent 15 minutes working it out together. I don’t think you would have that kind of student-faculty interaction anywhere but here.

Despite all the work, there is still time to have fun (except for that one day I told you about). Whether it is snowball fights on the field, dinner at Dry Dock, or Nerf wars in the trunk room, fourth class cadets know how to have a good time.

Any questions? Let me hear them. Nicholas.P.Capuzzi@uscga.edu

More about Nick.

So, Why Here?

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Nick Capuzzi The end of the semester is rapidly approaching. As I near the halfway point of fourth class year and see all the prospective cadets walking around, I am reminded of this time one year ago, when I was one of those prospective cadets. That got me thinking: What were my reasons for choosing the Coast Guard Academy?

Maybe it was for economic reasons. A free education would really ease financial strain on my parents and myself. Plus, upon graduation, I will have a guaranteed job, something that can be quite hard to come by these days. So yes, there are some economic benefits, but that wasn’t my main reason.

Maybe it was a desire for adventure. Enforcing federal laws, busting drug smugglers, interdicting migrants, rescuing mariners in distress, and protecting our coastline, what could be more adventurous than that? Even with all the excitement I will experience over my career, I still hadn’t found what it was that pushed me toward CGA.

It was a memory from the previous weekend that reminded me why I was here. I, along with 29 of my classmates, had taken a trip to Coast Guard Sector New York. Some CGA grads gave us a tour, told us a bunch of their stories, and we had a great time. At one point, we were walking down the street from Sector New York to Station New York. A car drove by and honked wildly at us, and one of the passengers stuck his head out the window and yelled, “Thank you for your service!”

That’s why I am here. To serve. To protect and defend the citizens of the United States. It’s something I’ve wanted since I was young. I love the water, so that narrowed my preference to either Navy or Coast Guard. In seventh grade, I joined the Naval Sea Cadet Corps. Then in high school, I enrolled in JROTC. I applied to both the Naval and Coast Guard Academy, but I chose Coast Guard.

And now I sit here, finishing my Calculus and writing this entry, confident that I made the right choice.

More about Nick.

Time Management

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Nick Capuzzi I cannot believe it, but somehow a quarter of fourth class year has gone by already. It has been approximately 120 days since I showed up on R-Day, and what a busy four months it has been.

Fourth class year is one big exercise in time management. During Swab Summer, we were told where to go, what to do, and when to do it. But during the academic year, it is totally up to you. You set yourself up for success, or failure, depending on the choices you make. Fortunately, you take an introductory course called BEARS that helps you learn about time management.

My day takes me to trainings, classes, meals, sports practices, and club meetings. Somewhere in between them I have to find the time to do my homework and study. As you can see, it is not always easy. But then again, it is the Coast Guard Academy, and it is not supposed to be.

More about Nick.

Return to the Academy, Spice Stories, and Applying!

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jordan Keith Hello again friends!

I’m sorry that it’s been almost two months since I last put up a blog. Things ended up getting really hectic with classes near the end of the semester and I hardly had time for anything else but school and triathlon. Speaking of classes, my load is a bit lighter this semester. The only class that I’m really worried about is Signals and Systems, an electrical engineering class that focuses on the mathematical description of different types of signals. For instance, what a sound signal might look like. It’s a challenging class, and I’m just hoping to get a good enough grade to stay in my major.

I didn’t want to just talk about classes in this blog though. I’m not sure if you guys saw it on the news or have kept up with what’s going around the Academy, but 14 cadets were recently kicked out for the use of Spice, a synthetic marijuana. Use of any psychoactive drug is a guaranteed way to get kicked out of not only the Academy, but also the military. The military has a no tolerance policy for these drugs, especially the Coast Guard. One of our missions is maritime law enforcement, and that often involves the search and seizure of illegal drugs on the water. The Coast Guard wants officers of integrity; officers who will not take some of the drugs they seize for their own benefit or use.

The thing is, nine of those cadets were from my class. I knew a few of them, and they are good people. But good people sometimes make bad decisions, which is what happened when a group of my classmates and five others decided to smoke Spice. At that moment they decided that using an illegal substance, by military standards, was more important to them than earning a commission. That throwing away a year and a half year was worth abusing their bodies. One of my dad’s favorite sayings has always been “the truth always comes out.” My former classmates might have thought they weren’t going to get caught; eventually though, whatever you do, will be brought to the attention of others. It’s so much easier to just follow the rules.

I don’t want any of you thinking that this is something that usually happens here. The actions of a few are not indicative of the attitude of the whole. This was a rare occurrence, and does not reflect the nature of the Corps of Cadets. Do not let this incident diminish the desire to attend this institution.

Many of you, I’m sure, are anxiously awaiting news on whether you were accepted or not. My advice? If you’ve already submitted an application, be sure to occupy your time with something else. Maybe throw more effort into school or whatever sport you’re in as of right now. It will help take your mind off of the waiting game.

For those of you who are still in the process of filling out the application, be sure to get letters of recommendation. Whether their from your coach, your employer, or your minister, be sure to get some of those into your application; they enable the admissions panel to see your whole person better, and allow insight into your character. Having letters of recommendation can only help your application. It’s hard to believe that in only a few more months the Class of 2016 will arrive and I’ll be cadre!

As always, feel free to email at Samuel.J.Keith@uscga.edu if you have any questions or need help with the application process.

As always,
Jordan

More about Jordan.

Where Does the Time Go?

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jordan Keith Ahoy Sailors!

I’ve got no clue where the time goes, because it seems like it was just yesterday that I was writing my previous blog.

Where has all of this time been going you might ask? For the weekdays it’s always dedicated to school. The first semester of Electrical Engineering is pretty intense. I’m taking three labs and I have homework every night. And I don’t have any free periods during the school day. This semester I am taking: Electrical Engineering I, Introduction to Programming, Differential Equations, Ships and Maritime Systems, Physics I, Navigation Lab, and Golf/Racquetball.

The weekends have been far more exciting though. I’ve done a couple of triathlons (in D.C. and New York) in the past month, as well as a lot of community service activities. Community service has been very rewarding, as well as exposing me to different things “out there”. For instance, last weekend I was helping Amber Alert register children for ID’s; if the children ever go missing the parent can turn the ID card into a local police station and the surrounding communities will be alerted to what’s going on. Some of the other things that I’ve done include helping out at a homeless shelter in Pennsylvania, talking to people at Riverside Park (a piece of land the Academy is interested in acquiring), and taking Eagle up the Thames River for the first time in 30 years. All of it’s been very satisfying, and I’ve been able to visit many more places around the New England/eastern seaboard through all of these activities while helping people out. I’m grateful for this opportunity the Academy has made possible for me, and I’m excited to see what other exciting things lay in store for me on the weekends.

If you want to know more about my weekend adventures or community service in general feel free to shoot me an email at Samuel.J.Keith@uscga.edu.

See you soon,
3/c Jordan Keith

More about Jordan.

An Event Like No Other: My First Biathlon

(Athletics, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jordan Keith Ahoy Sailors!

Today, on the tenth anniversary of the tragic attacks on our nation, I had the honor and privilege of racing my first biathlon in the nation’s capitol: Washington D.C. Normally, this event is supposed to be a triathlon, but they unfortunately canceled the swim due to unsanitary conditions in the Potomac River. The race ultimately began with the 40k cycling leg.

The CGA Triathlon team, along with three other service academies (Army, Air Force, and Navy), started off in the second wave out of 38. Luckily for us, the Nation’s Triathlon favors cadets and we have our own special category. And off I was, quickly running through the transition area to where my bike was.

I’ve never really cycled before, so I was surprised at how tired I was when I hit the 30k mark. I was also surprised at how my legs felt when I started the run. I’ve been running for four years now and my legs have never felt that tight before. Switching from one discipline to another is quite a shock to the body, I’ve discovered. My calves were tight at the beginning of the run, but I felt really good when I hit the halfway point of my 10k run. I felt even better as I sprinted through the finish.

My favorite part of the race, besides finishing, was the sheer amount of energy at the event. I’ve never seen so much enthusiasm at any of the cross country, swimming, track meets or 5ks that I’ve been too. I’m excited to train harder for my next biathlon/triathlon in October!

Semper P.
3/c S. Jordan Keith

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Summer Travels

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jordan Keith It’s been an incredible summer so far! 3/c summer training is divided into two phases. We spend half of our summers aboard an operational cutter or small boat station and the other half aboard Eagle. I spent the first five weeks of my summer aboard the CGC Dallas, a 378-foot high endurance cutter home ported out of Charleston, South Carolina, which is an awesome city. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to spend very much time in Charleston as we got underway the next day. I spent the entire time underway, so it was perfect timing from a training perspective.

All of us were promoted to the rank of 3/c cadets the day following graduation. My five other classmates and myself participated in the tradition of throwing our green shields – the rank of a 4/c – overboard. We then donned our red shields. Even though it does not seem like a big deal, wearing a different colored shield marks a huge shift in our cadet careers. By tossing those green shields, we were getting rid of all of the tasks that we had to do as 4/c: bracing up, squaring meals and corners, marching in section, clocks, cleaning for formal room and wings.

I learned an incredible amount aboard the Dallas on how a cutter works, got to meet and interact with the enlisted crew. As 3/c cadets we act in the role of junior enlisted personnel so we stood the same watches and stayed in the same berthing areas as the seaman and junior petty officers. It’s part of the program. “You have to learn to follow before you can learn to lead”.

We did a Caribbean patrol on the Dallas, had a couple of law enforcement cases, and went to Panama and Cuba for port calls. Even though being underway can be really challenging, I can’t help but feel lucky; a lot of my friends from high school are working at grocery stores or Starbucks, and I’m getting to go all over the world doing a meaningful job.

Currently I’m on CGC Eagle, America’s Tall Ship in London. Everyone on phase II Eagle flew out last Friday. The flight took six hours, and it took a few days for me to adjust to the five-hour time difference. We were supposed to leave a few days ago, but we had some problems with our navigational equipment so we’re still in London. Not that I’m complaining! London is very different than Boston or New York City. There’s a deeper history here than in America, as well as a mix of modern and medieval architecture. Getting to see places like Big Ben or Buckingham Palace has been amazing, and I’m hoping to see more of it before we leave.

We’ll be making port calls in Reykjavik, Iceland as well as Halifax, Nova Scotia before we finish this journey in Boston, Massachusetts, which is ironically the city we flew out of America from. I look forward to answering any of your questions and telling you more about this chapter of my cadet career!

As Always,
3/c Jordan Keith

More about Jordan.

101st Night

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jordan Keith Right now I’m coming off a high of accomplishment. Tonight the Class of 2014 experienced one of the traditions of this fine institution: 101st Night. 101st Night, to quote from the Running Light, is “The chance for the Fourth Class to earn 100th Day.” In other words, the 4/c revert back to swab status and the 2/c revert to cadre status. Two things happened tonight: we earned the chance to become “kings for a day” tomorrow on the 100th day. Tomorrow, we will become 2/c for a day while the 4/c have to brace up, do orderlies, and spew indoc. While we get to act normal, use Facebook, and talk to each other in the passage ways.

Hotel did a great job, and I think I proved to my Swab Summer company that I’ve come a long way since that day hot and humid R-Day.

I’m looking forward to 100th Day, then Boards, then Challenge of the Guardian, then carry on! I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

If you have any questions about 101st Night, 100th Day, or any of the Academy’s traditions feel free to email me at Samuel.J.Keith@uscga.edu.

More about Jordan.

An Update

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jordan Keith It’s been awhile since I’ve updated you guys, so here it goes.

From last semester: I finished finals all right, and ended up with an okay GPA. This semester was definitely the most challenging I’ve ever experienced. I went from failing all of my first tests to eventually improving and coming out about average for my class. Militarily, my uniform appearance wasn’t stellar and I had trouble managing time. I gave up doing a sport so I could focus more on academics, and was tired most of the time. Christmas leave was awesome. It was definitely a much needed break for me to reflect on my experiences so far at the Academy, and realize what I was doing wrong. In my opinion, failure is acceptable if you learn from it.

Now let’s fast-forward to this semester. Hotel won Honor Company! Basically this means that we were the best out of the eight companies in the Corps of Cadets. Along with that has come a long weekend (we could leave and not have to come back until Sunday), and impressing our new guidon, who was on exchange at another service academy and therefore didn’t know what to expect from the Hotel 4/c.

Unfortunately, I relaxed too much over Christmas break and didn’t have the “sound body” to pass the first Physical Fitness Examination. Luckily though, I got off the remedial PFE today after having passed it two times consecutively.

Things have improved on all fronts for me. I know how to manage my time now, so I can now balance all of my academic, military, and extracurricular obligations. I’m finished with my least favorite class, Macroeconomics, and am in Statics and Engineering Design, which suits me more. I finally have my room condition and uniform appearance under control. Additionally, I’ve been keeping up with school and doing pretty well.

Speaking of school, we’ve yet to have a full week of classes because of all the snow causing the base to be closed. Coming from the Midwest, I’ve seen some pretty heavy snow falls, but nothing like this. It just keeps piling up. Let’s see if we can make it to Spring Break without a full week of school, right?

I think I’m going to do outdoor track as my sport this semester. I ran track and cross country in high school, and hadn’t realized how much I missed it. The only problem is that I put in for first phase Eagle for my 3/c summer, and track may conflict with that. First Phase is going to Ireland, Germany, and London, while Second Phase picks it up in London and heads over to Iceland, Nova Scotia and Boston. Whatever phase I get, it’s going to be a blast. I also put in for the new National Security Cutter, so we’ll see if I get it or not. I should find out in a month or two, and I’ll let you guys know where I’ll be headed this summer.

The period from the beginning of the second semester is traditional called the “Dark Ages” because of the lack of sunlight in New England and the absence of any leave periods. And for 4/c cadets, we are starting to prepare for Boards. Boards is part of the process to earning “carry on”, meaning that the 4/c are recognized by the corps and gain all of the privileges that have been withheld since R-Day. Boards consist of memorizing information about the Coast Guard from a 54 page packet. An upper class will ask us 10 questions from that packet, and we have to get 8 out of 10 correct to pass. All of 2014 has to pass Boards before carry on can be granted. Honestly though, despite the negative stigma attached to the Dark Ages and Boards, second semester has been fantastic. I’ve got my grades under control, good military conduct, a great division, planning on doing a sport again, and haven’t had a full week of school yet. What else could a 4/c cadet want? Well, besides carry on of course.

Have any questions on what the first semester was like? Or what it’s like being a spring semester 4/c? Feel free to shoot me an email at Samuel.J.Keith@uscga.edu

More about Jordan.

Sector New York Trip

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jordan Keith Today was another eye opening day into the operational Coast Guard—this time to see what a Coast Guard sector is like. After our formal room and wing inspection, a group of 4/c cadets and I boarded a bus to visit Coast Guard Sector New York. The bus ride was three hours long, which was actually great because I was up until 1:30 in the morning cleaning the heads (bathrooms) for our wing area inspections.

When we arrived, an ensign who had recently graduated from the Academy greeted us and gave us a presentation on sectors, an area of the Coast Guard that I was completely unfamiliar with. According to him, sectors are in charge of preventing and responding to natural disasters or anything similar. Their biggest responsibility is keeping ports and waterways safe, and they regularly board merchant vessels and check their cargo, which is an example of prevention.

Remember when that plane crashed into the Hudson River last year? The Coast Guard was on scene shortly afterward. Soon after the plane had landed in the river, the Coast Guard sent out small boats to help the people off of the wings of US Airways Flight 1549 and out of the Hudson in the cold January weather. It was quite an accomplishment for the pilot and the Coast Guard sector. It seems like no matter where you go in the Coast Guard something exciting is going to happen, and we’ll be there to take care of it.

In addition to the presentation, we were given a tour of the control room and the small boat station, which was great. The control room monitors the whole sector and watches the port. The Coast Guard has this area well covered; let’s just say that it would be pretty hard for someone to go unnoticed in the areas that the sector monitors. The response boats look really fun to ride in. I’m actually hoping that I’ll get to go to a small boat station now during 3/c summer. I have to go now, but if you have any further inquires on my sector experience, feel free to shoot me an email at Samuel.J.Keith@uscga.edu

Best,
4/c Jordan Keith

More about Jordan.

Don’t Count Every Hour in the Day, Make Every Hour in the Day Count

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jordan Keith There are several paradoxes to cadet life. One of them is the concept of time. The days drag on, but the weeks fly by. Right now, I’m sitting here finding it hard to believe that it is already Sunday again, or the fact that the month of October went by so quickly. It’s been a little over four months since the Academy became my home, which I find incredible. So many things have happened in between R-Day and today that I feel like it’s been a year since I last saw my hometown, although I know it’s only been a quarter of that time.

Currently, I can divide my life into three different phases: pre R-Day, Swab Summer, and present day, 4/c year. Each one of these phases has had a significant, although different, impact on my personal development. The time before R-Day was about growing up and figuring out what I wanted to do. Swab Summer was about teamwork, discipline and learning to trust and rely on people who were once strangers but are now close friends, which is perhaps one of the greatest things about the Academy. 4/c year so far has been one about self-discipline and drinking water from a fire hose. We, the Class of 2014, had plenty of discipline during the summer, but that was someone administering it to us. Now it is up to us to decide what to do with our time, which is a greater challenge than I expected.

The other night I had a discussion with my guidon on how to manage all of the academic, military, and other requirements and responsibilities that we have. For those of you who don’t know what a guidion is, it is a leadership position held by a 2/c cadet in each of the eight companies. In the words of the announcer at drill ceremonies, the guidon “is a 2/c known for their snap and precision, and is responsible for training the 4/c cadets.” He gave me some great advice on how to do well at the Academy. To summarize our discussion: “study and work with classmates when possible, write things down, discipline yourself to do the work, and prioritize responsibilities. Don’t worry about the amount of tasks that you have to do; just do them.” Great advice, because at the end of the semester what will have mattered is how I used my limited time and, more importantly, knowing that I used it well.

Best,
4/c Jordan Keith

More about Jordan.

Limits: the Hardest Lesson I’ve Had to Learn

(Academics, Athletics, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jessie Lukasik Normally I would write my blog near the beginning of the month – and normally, I would rush to share all my excitement following a big race or athletic event. So, what happened this month? I ran the Marine Corps Marathon on October 30th, had the time of my life, crushed my goal time by almost 20 minutes, and came back to school absolutely giddy with excitement. Why didn’t I write then? Two weeks later, I ran Tough Mudder – a 12-mile obstacle course in the freezing cold and mud – with five of my best friends and, again, was left beside myself with glee. Why didn’t I write then?

Why am I waiting until now to sit down and crank out a quick little blog post? Time constraints - for the first time since I’ve been at the Academy (really, for the first time ever), I’ve truly learned what it means to not have a minute to spare.

3/c fall semester has been unlike anything I would have expected – I’ve begun to grow nostalgic for the relative ease of last year! Gone are the days of bracing up, squaring meals, and taking out trash, but in the place of the endless, irritating menial tasks designated to 4/c have come a whole new wave of work and responsibilities. Suddenly, the academic load is both fuller and more challenging. Suddenly, I must write not only my own CER, but one for each of my 4/c as well. Suddenly, I have more jobs and managerial tasks within my division. The authority vested in me has increased, even if just slightly, and with that comes a new set of tasks to complete. I knew, theoretically, that this would happen – it’s a natural part of the Academy training. But it was difficult to predict precisely how it would affect my day-to-day life until now.

What’s more, the graduation from 4/c year to 3/c year gives birth to a sense of confidence unlike anything most of us have ever felt before – now that we know this school, we know our place, and we know our own abilities, we are far more certain of our abilities to accomplish all we must do, and still have the time to do the things we want to do. And so, as 3/c, we become more eager to join new activities, take on new tasks, try to do more than we did before.

This year, I suddenly found myself signed up for not only Glee Club, Triathlon Team, and this blog program but a host of other activities. Suddenly, I’m spending hours each week serving as a Peer Tutor, and attending tutor trainings. Suddenly, I’m going to weekly Honors Colloquium meetings and doing work toward starting a Directed Studies course and applying for scholarships for graduate school. Suddenly, I’m attending lectures and seminars with the Women’s Leadership Council, striving to learn what I need to know to ease my transition into a Coast Guard career a couple years from now.

Yet, even as I add on more things, the other activities I’ve grown so fond of persist – Glee Club practices, concerts, and events; races, morning practices, and team meetings for triathlon and running club; the required CS/IS hours we have to do each semester. And these activities build upon themselves as my time investment in them increases. I may now attend the occasional Fairwinds performance in addition to regular Glee Club performances. Now that I’ve completed a marathon, I’ve taken the next big step and signed up for an Ironman – a 140.6 mile race next November. I get so eager so easily – once I know what I can do, I want to try to do more.

It’s all “fine and well and good”, striving for excellence, pushing yourself, getting involved in your school. I’ve thrived on it for the past four months. But at a certain point, the madness has to cease. When you wear yourself down to 4 hours of sleep per night because you’re constantly on the go, something has to stop. I’ve hit that point – I’ve past my limits.

Thankfully, I’ve “caught myself” before I fell into a death spiral, before my grades started to slip. I’ve been testing my limits, but by now my body has told me “enough is enough.” It’s time to cut back. It may be tempting to try to do everything, but even for a USCGA cadet, it’s not quite possible.

So, that’s why I’m so late in writing my blog this month – I’ve drowned myself in activity, and I’ve learned my lesson. Going forward, I’ll try to “cut back” a little bit on the flurry of constant “stuff” to do and just appreciate the value of some down time.

Yet, I have to say, I’m glad I learned this lesson the hard way – I never “pegged the meter” in testing myself. Until I’d pushed myself past my limits, I never actually knew what my limits actually were. I now know what sorts of energy and fortitude the Academy life and training can produce. I know just how much I can do – now, I just need to be a little more sensible about doing it!

More about Jessie.

Upcoming Events

(Athletics, Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jessie Lukasik I am capable of reflection – I do it monthly on this blog – and I would write about what’s gone on in the past few weeks if it seemed more pertinent at this point in time. But I’m naturally more of a forward-thinker, and at the CGA, October is a time that certainly invites looking ahead (though, perhaps you could say that for every month here!) There’s a lot to look forward to, and less that most of us would like to look back upon. The end of September and the beginning of this month have been a bit of a slog – Formal Room and Wing, a Personnel Inspection, an extra heavy load of tests and papers, even mid-terms…people have been worn pretty thin. But, it’s analogous to weathering a storm: we’ve been surrounded by all the wind and torrential downpour and chaos for what’s seemed like forever, and suddenly, we’ve broken into the clear. Everything good that’s upcoming is laid out before us – and it looks fantastic!

Here’s the run-down of the excitement:

Columbus Day Long this weekend has everyone’s spirits soaring. Plans are across the board – people going home, visiting different cities, trying to squeeze in one last beach trip before the cold weather hits. For my part, I’m off to New York City with some of my best friends, though a little piece of my heart will be back here in Connecticut. Women’s rugby has their fourth game of the season this Saturday in Stonington – even if I’m not playing this season, I have to give a shout out to my teammates!

Next week, Glee Club will attend our biggest event of the year – the Coast Guard Foundation Dinner in New York City. It was pretty mind-blowing last year as a 4/c…the majority of the “important” people in the Coast Guard all packed into one super-fancy hotel ballroom, and us, the CGA choir, going to sing for them. It’s a great time though and this year, I’m lucky enough to be part of the extended-stay group. The Fairwinds need a 2nd alto to stand in for their performance the next evening – so that means an overnight stay in NYC, and missing classes all day Friday. Jackpot!

But for those back at the Academy that Friday, it won’t be just any school day. Next weekend is Parent’s Weekend, which means hundreds of CGA family members at school and classes, extra band and Glee performances, departmental style drill, the Parents’ Weekend football game, and more overnight liberty for the corps.

The period after Parents’ Weekend marks two enlivening occasions: that end of drill season, and the beginning of the “holiday” season. Yes. That means no more 0655 drill practice every Monday and Friday, no more 1600 Reg Reviews on Friday afternoons when everyone just wants to go out on libo or sleep. It’s a glorious thing. And the end of October, as Halloween approaches, is always a fun time. There’s Aviation Day, room decorating, the Corps costume contest, the Halloween dinner and Trick or Treat on the Hill all in those last couple of weeks of the month. Rarely do we get to “play” so much at the Academy – it’s a nice treat.

And to top all that off, on October 30th, I run the Marine Corps Marathon with the Running Club. Training “crunch time” is already in full swing…

That’s the gist of it – the activities just keep coming and coming, it seems! Hopefully there will be plenty of interesting material for me to report on in the next month. Until then, I’m just contentedly looking forward.

More about Jessie.

Running Right Along

(Athletics, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jessie Lukasik Back in 2010, I set aside September as rugby month. Now, a year later, I’ve evolved a bit. September is Tri Team month. September is Running Club month. September is race month.

A little background info: in March of this year, I was sitting at my desk working when Dale Carty, a good friend from Swab Summer, waltzed right in and dropped a crazy idea, “Hey Jessie, want to do the Marine Corps Marathon with me?” I’d never seriously thought about doing a marathon before, and considering the workloads the Academy forces us to endure, training for a 26.2 mile road race should have been out of the questions. But, I’ve always been a little overly ambitious. Besides, plenty of cadets run the MCM every year, so it couldn’t be that crazy of an idea. And, with his huge smile, charming Virgin Islands accent, and upfront manner, Dale is terribly convincing. So, I popped off, “Yeah, let’s do it,” and we registered that day.

Flash-forward to the end of the summer – after going on summer assignments for 12 weeks and having no time or place to run during those three months, as soon as leave hit, I began to hit the pavement…hard. Everyone knows that when you start an aggressive running program you’re supposed to ease your way into it, build up a mileage base bit-by-bit, avoid overtraining. I may have skimmed over that particular piece of advice…like I said, overly ambitious.

Long story short, when I got back to school in August and tried to throw rugby practice into the mix of heavy mileage – running in cleats, cutting, starting, stopping sprinting, going to ground, the whole nine yards – I ran into some problems. Essentially, I blew out my shins, knees, and adductors all within the first week of practice. Ouch. Clearly something had to go – marathon training and rugby was just too much for my obviously underprepared body to handle. And seeing as I’d already registered for MCM, Nation’s Triathlon, and the Niantic Half Marathon, I decided to sit the rugby season out.

So let me rephrase my opening statement – September is race month and PT month. The athletic trainers at the Academy, or the PT center in the clinic, are always readily available for ailing athletes. Running at all has required extensive visits to the clinic for ESTIM and ice treatments, plus exercises, plus stretching, and still every long run has been setting me back for a week. Run 10 miles one day…have trouble walking the next. It’s been a strange game…and I’ve been fairly pig-headed about that. I guess I’ve never really learned the meaning of an “off day”!

Still, I can’t say it enough – September is a racing month. September is a running month. September is a training month. Even though Academy life can get wearing by winter, in these first few months of school, energy levels stay high all throughout the corps. And with so many exciting things going on, with MMA Weekend, and Labor Day, and Homecoming Weekend, the energy seeps over to fuel your workouts. It’s easy to see the “light at the end of the tunnel” when there’s something going on every week – because basically each week is a new “tunnel” to conquer.

Enough history. Let’s get into the meat of this story: RACES!

On September 10th, 2011 I hopped in a van loaded down with a dozen-odd cadets, their bikes, helmets, gear bags, and endless high-carb snacks to head down to Washington D.C. for what was many of our first Olympic Distance Triathlon. This is the amazing thing about the Academy – you take trips like this, and all the details are worked out perfectly…transportation, lodging, meal money. We got from Connecticut to D.C. in a day, hassle free. After racking bikes, checking in, and getting a quick meal, we all crashed at Station Washington for some much needed rest. The next morning, the Tenth Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, at 7a.m., the starting gun fired, and our team of Coasties was off running to their bikes.

It was strange and surreal – dashing through the mud of the transition area on a misty morning in the Capital, racing against a hundred other military cadets from other service academies, and thousands of people total. All that adrenaline, all that athleticism centered in one place…yet it was hard to feel the urge to compete, exactly. All I could think of the entire race was, “Oh my God, I can’t believe I’m here right now!” or “Could they have picked a more amazing place to hold a tri?” The significance of the day was certainly not lost on any of us. To think – ten years ago, our nation endured monstrous acts of violence intended to uproot us, ruin us, and shake the very foundations of our strength and resolve. Yet today, we still stand strong. The athletes racing that day are a testimony that the strength and willpower our citizens – September 11th, with the Nation’s Tri, did not have to be a day of mourning but a day to celebrate the enduring passion, commitment, and community that no external foe can take away from the American people. I don’t know – perhaps it was just “runner’s high,” but I left that race with not just excitement, but a deep sense of contentment.

The period after Nation’s Tri ended up being a bit more of a slog, in terms of training. The Olympic Tri hurt me pretty badly – I was starting to get a bit more diligent about taking care of stress injuries, but regardless, a 40K bike and 10K run will set you back a bit, if you’re still supposed to be healing. Oh well – it was so worth it!

Two weeks later I ran the Niantic Half Marathon with the Running Club. Early on a Sunday morning, I hopped in a 15-passenger van with just one other cadet (great organizational skill there, Running Club!) and popped on over to Niantic for the longest straight-up road race I’d ever done. I knew my legs would punish me for it – 13.1 miles all at once would probably mean an extra two or three PT sessions – but I couldn’t beat that undying compulsion to run. And run I did – I finished in 1:47:20, which bodes well for my goal pace for MCM (just to finish in under 4:00:00). I can’t say it was a wildly inspiring a race as Nation’s Tri, but it was a good race nonetheless.

You’d think a Half Marathon and an Olympic Tri would be enough, right? Wrong! My unexpectedly rapid recovery time after Niantic and the fact that all my endless stress injuries finally seem to be subsiding, has me all fired up and ready for more. The Tri Team has been great about welcoming me in mid-season – so I went ahead and signed up for the Mighty Man Sprint Tri in Montauk, New York on October 1st. Bring on the next race!

More than anything, I really look forward to bonding with my new sports-team-family, the “tri-crazies.” It’s a motley crew, but a good crew. In some ways, I think the Tri Team represents the essence of what Academy cadets are – outgoing, energetic, adventurous, ambitious, supportive. We do insane things, like wake up to go jump in a lake at 0640 in October and race, and we love it. We train like fiends, and we love it. We go amazing places on short notice, because the Academy enables it. We’re always on the go, always looking forward, but always, always feeling the heat of every moment of every race. It’s an exhilarating lifestyle – and I’m incredibly grateful that, here at CGA, it’s readily available to me.

More about Jessie.

I Guess this is Normal Now

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jessie Lukasik Returning to school from leave has been quite a reality check, though not in the way you’d expect. After three months sailing around the world, leave felt almost unreal. As peculiar as our little Academy-world is, returning has felt like checking back into my own bizarre-but-comfortable version of reality: a reality of uniforms, regulations, opportunities, endless movement, and a corps bubbling with passion and energy and restlessness and impishness all mixed together. This is my new normal – civilian life has become some strangely decadent treat. In a way, it’s soothing to come “back to work.”

And the work is piling up already – the mental effort of keeping track of the countless changes going into affect at the Academy this year provides a daunting challenge in itself. We have a new Superintendant. We have new Assistant Commandant of Cadets. As 3/c cadets, the class of 2014 got shifted into new companies. Reg Staff is new. Command within the companies is new. New annexes have opened up in Chase Hall. A new (and grossly unpopular) open-door room policy has gone into effect. In just a month, new regulations regarding the repeal of DADT will take effect. The amount of “newness” being infused into cadet lives with the start of the school year is mind-boggling.

And beyond the tangible changes in policy and structure, it seems that the very character of CGA is shifting along with changes in the outside world. Even in the isolation of the Academy, “real-world” issues – an unstable economy, and a less-than-prosperous job market – infiltrate the atmosphere. Being a cadet, this year, seems to bear more weight than ever as Command informs the Corps that applications to the Academy are increasing and the availability of Coast Guard job billets is decreasing. The pressure is higher than ever for us to reach the lofty standards laid down for us – to develop into intelligent, honorable, skillful, mature leaders ready to go into the fleet. More is at stake; our places here at the Academy hold more value. We have more reason to be both proud of ourselves for our achievements thus far and humbled by the prospect of what we still must achieve to make proper payment for the opportunity we’ve been afforded. Yes, the return to school had the same hustle-and-bustle to it as always, but this year’s atmosphere held a particular solemn flavor to it as well. The world is changing, and CGA isn’t immune to that.

Still, that’s not to say that all the joys of the Academy don’t still dominate the back-to-school environment. There’s so much excitement just over the horizon. Fall sports are in season already – for me, that means a training-intensive combo of Rugby and Tri-Team, all combined with training for the Marine Corps Marathon and a Tough Mudder. Classes are starting up again – and for me and my classmates, this academic year holds the start of work in our specific majors. The Labor Day long weekend, Spirit Week and MMA Weekend, Homecoming…the next month is going to be one big event after another.

Yep, this is totally, perfectly normal. How funny is that?

More about Jessie.

They Can’t Teach This in the Classroom

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jessie Lukasik If you’re moderately up-to-date with Coast Guard cadet life and the class of 2014, the excitement of 3/c summer assignments has probably long-since reached you. If not, here’s the general summary version: for 12 weeks over the summer, rising 3/c cadets escape the strange, self-contained alternate reality that is the Academy and get out into the fleet. Where exactly you go is somewhat luck-of-the-draw, but it’s the same general formula for everyone – six weeks on Eagle with half of your classmates, and six weeks at a cutter or station with just a few other cadets. The idea is to get us “out there,” to let us see how the operational Coast Guard works outside of school, to get some practical qualifications and field experience, and to, for a few months, fulfill the role of “junior enlisted” members of the service and build our empathy and understanding as future officers.

That’s the long version – that’s what the Academy intends for us over the summer. Most cadets break that down into rather more basic goals:
  • Get out of the Academy
  • Get some “quals”
  • Have a ridiculously good time traveling all over the country and the world
For my part, I seemed to hit the jackpot. For the first half of the summer I was stationed on the USCGC Jarvis, a 378-foot cutter based out of Honolulu, Hawaii. And the sweetest deal with Jarvis: our two-week fisheries patrol started out in Majuro, so immediately after leaving the Academy my travel group hopped on a C-130 to fly out to the Marshall Islands to meet the cutter. Talk about starting the summer off with a bang!

Underway life on Jarvis was fairly typical of a high-endurance cutter – very interesting, but a lot of work. Endless hours of Helm and Lookout watch, DCPQS training, break-in engineering security watch, engineering drawings, two full weeks of TSTA drills – I can’t say all of it was wildly exciting, or anything that I know I’ll use directly in the future, and for the most part, I was chronically exhausted from the long days. However, the “lows” of underway time were certainly well worth they “ups” of our onboard (and ashore!) experiences. From driving a small boat, to participating in deck-gun drills, to interacting with some truly incredible crew members, to having some amazing liberty time in Honolulu and Waikiki Beach, Jarvis more than repaid us for our efforts with copious amounts of adventure and fun.

Again, I summarize, but fast-forward a few weeks to mid-June, when summer second phase began. Everyone out in the fleet and everyone on Eagle did a quick switcheroo: first phase had sailed Eagle across the Atlantic Ocean to Ireland, Germany, and finally to England, where second phase was to pick it up. So, after departing Hawaii, within 36 hours I’d flown from Honolulu, to Louisiana, to Washington D.C., back to the Academy, to Boston, all the way over to London with 120 of my classmates to pick up our famous tall ship. And that was only half a summer’s worth of travels…

Eagle took second phase from London, to Iceland, up across the Arctic Circle, to Nova Scotia, back home to Boston, from which point our class was granted leave. Of course that started with a bit of a hitch – the day before we were supposed to depart from London, our gyrocompass up and died, and while we can navigate without it, we can’t leave port without it. So, as chance would have it, instead of having a three-day London port call, we were gifted with an 11-day London port call. Oh darn that luck!

Eagle underway life ended up being distinctly different than real underway life – when people call it a “floating Academy,” they aren’t being entirely sarcastic. The workday functions much like the Academy routine does, with a few hectic little hitches thrown in throughout the day (“Sail stations, sail stations, all hands to sail stations!”) You stand watch. You go to trainings. Your uniforms and berthing areas get inspected. You go to muster. Often times cadets are much less enthused about Eagle life than about their cutter experience because you work very, very long, hard hours, and it often feels like you’re under constant scrutiny and supervision.

Still, I think that perspective can be chocked up more to young adults’ general tendency to be “jaded” than it is a good evaluation of Eagle life. Truly, sailing a tall ship (our “pirate ship,” as we lovingly called it) across the ocean is to die for. Some of the sights – the view of the sea from the top of the mast, the mountain-ringed bay of the port of Reykjavik, sea ice and the never-ending sun in the Arctic Circle – can’t be seen anywhere else, in any other way. The things you learn – how to handle lines, and climb the rigging, and navigate by celestial bodies – they don’t teach anywhere else. The experiences, good and bad – standing on bow lookout in rough seas late at night, with only another classmate to rely on; sitting on the mess deck at 0330 with your division, falling apart in giggle-fits because you just got off the midwatch; that kind of stuff – you can’t get anywhere else. You certainly don’t learn those sorts of things in the classroom.

When I look back on my summer, even in just a couple months’ worth of retrospect, all the not-so-fun times fade in comparison to all the amazing things I got to do and see. I ran through the Hawaiian mountains; I hiked an Icelandic mountain; I saw London and Halifax; I snorkeled and beach-basked in Waikiki; I learned the engine room of a 378 and Eagle, steered both through all sorts of crazy, gorgeous, and peaceful weather conditions alike; I climbed a mast, drove a small boat, bonded with my classmates, met new people, and challenged myself in incredible new ways.

I’d say that makes a pretty good summer.

More about Jessie.

Memory Lane

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jessie Lukasik Well, would you look at that – it’s finally Spring! The equinox was yesterday, and happily enough we’re starting to feel the season in the air. No more grimacing every time you walk outside from the below-freezing temperatures; no more feeling totally drained from a two-minute walk from Chase to Satterlee because the wind is forcing you backwards every step. Dare I say it…? It’s getting nice outside!

And, since it’s such beautiful walking weather, I think it’s time for a nice stroll down Memory Lane. (Oh yes, I’m going to have a bit too much fun with this metaphor!) Brace yourselves; this could get a little cheesy…

One year ago to the day, on Sunday, March 21, 2010, I signed the form accepting my appointment to USCGA, effectively saying “Yes, I am ready to give the next nine years of my life to the Coast Guard and my country.” Quite a heavy statement to put into one quick signature on an unassuming-looking paper document. I had no idea what I was getting into at the time – and I realized at the time that I had no idea what I was getting into. But oddly enough, I was ok with that.

It was an abrupt decision, accepting my appointment. I think it may have surprised my family and friends even more than my decision to apply to the Academy in the first place. I didn’t make much show of weighing the pros and cons of going military before picking my path – that dialogue was mostly internal. To everyone I knew it looked like I left for a long weekend with no particular inclination as to where I would go to college and returned on Monday having signed up with the U.S. military. Talk about doing a 180 on people!

I applied to under Early Action, received a conditional appointment in December, and got my medical clearance in early February. I toured as a “bean sprout” at the very end of February – but I reserved judgment. I’d applied to a number of Ivies, and they wouldn’t send out their decisions until May. Don’t get me wrong – I loved what I saw at the Academy. But how could I know if I would love it just as much if I were accepted to Harvard, or Columbia? I thought I’d wait until I had all my options before me so I could make a good, logical decision.

But in the end, what fun is logic? As much as you sit and stress and strain while you work a decision over in your head, sometimes all it does is give you a migraine. I know we’ve got a lot of super-scholars looking into the Academy – I’ve walked that line myself. You want to reason out a concrete, “best” decision; you want to find the “perfect” choice; you want a “right answer”…

When it comes to decisions like college, however – especially if you’re considering making that jump from the civilian to the military world – there isn’t a right answer. Terrifying, right? There’s no instant validation of your choice – only time can tell you if you chose right, chose wrong, or something in between. You have to intuit. And eventually, you have to stop debating, stop agonizing, and just make a choice.

Uh oh…looks like Memory Lane is taking a pretty convoluted path right now. I’m getting lost in reminiscence. Let me get back on a more narrative track…

I mentioned that I left on a long weekend and came back with a firm decision to come to the Academy. Here’s some fun irony: that long weekend I spent on a Caribbean cruise. Yes – I made my decision to join the Coast Guard from the deck of a Carnival cruise ship. Not quite what you’d call “salty,” but it’s fitting enough…

I was sitting on the porch as we pulled into the Bahamas, just watching the hustle-and-bustle down in the port as we prepared to dock. And what do you know, if we didn’t pass a Coast Guard vessel. Of course, my eyes went straight to it…and I got the strangest sensation…

I unexpectedly found myself wishing I could switch ships – stop lazing about on a cruise and join the Coast Guard crew I saw working so diligently beside us. I always get a little restless on vacation (maybe I’ve mentioned I’m a little hyperactive…) The thought of working on the water, always being on the go, off to some new adventure every moment, and doing something beneficial to humanity, suddenly looked very romantic, very noble, and very appealing.

When my family joined me out on the porch, I announced that I no longer cared to hear if Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, Vanderbilt, or any such “name” schools wanted me – it was of no consequence. I was going to the United States Coast Guard Academy, and that was that. Two days later, I signed the acceptance form and mailed it off, “sealing my fate” in a little white envelope. And you know what? I couldn’t have been more certain that I had found “the right answer” to my college dilemma.

I guess that little Memory Lane stroll turned into more of long trek! All I’m trying to get at through this little nostalgia trip is this: sometimes it’s best not to over think your actions, or your decisions, even the big ones. I spent 18 years of my life stuck in Georgia trying to plan out how to have some adventure in my life. Yet all the thinking and planning in the world couldn’t have given me half the adventure that I’ve found here at the Academy already. I’m glad I took that leap of faith. I’m glad I stopped “reasoning” and just did what felt right. I’m glad I am where I am.

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The Great Mental De-Clutter

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jessie Lukasik Well, that was anticlimactic – Boards are over.

Well, at least for 72% of our class Boards are over…that’s a pretty impressive initial pass rate, if I do say so myself. For almost three-quarters of the 4/c to get that big-long-oh-so-scary indoc test knocked out the first weekend says a lot about Class of 2014.

Still, it blows my mind that we’ve been stressing out, frantically studying our Boards packet since Christmas, and then suddenly, on an otherwise uneventful Saturday morning or Sunday night, in less than 15 minute in most cases…it’s all over. We’re done. No fireworks, marching band, or celebratory parade to mark the coming of our mental freedom, just a simple, “Very well, 4/c Lukasik, you’re dismissed.” Its almost incomprehensible – just a few minutes of effort in the actual Boards room, after all those weeks and weeks of preparation, and I’m just…done.

Of course, the situation was not so incomprehensible as to prevent me from gleefully shoving my 52-page study packet into the recycle bin the minute I got back to my room.

This is one of those times when the figurative idea of “a weight being taken off your shoulders” almost physically manifests itself. There are three big 4/c “things” that each class goes through during spring semester: 101st Night, Boards, and Challenge of the Guardian. Well, we got 101st Night out of the way on Super Bowl weekend; and I personally may not get to do Challenge of the Guardian because of a crew meet (we’ll have to see – that’s still pending). So now, with Boards done and over with, I could very well be done with painful, stressful, 4/c “events.” That’s kind of hard to grasp.

But what’s more, the amount of time and mental energy I’m getting back is almost mind-blowing. Time…yes, the time we earn back by passing Boards almost trumps the privileges we earn as a class. No more scheduled study groups. No more bringing your Boards packet everywhere you go. No more studying on the treadmill. No more quizzing your classmates when you’d planned to just watch a movie. And no more of that awful feeling of, “Well, it’s late and I want to go to sleep now…but I should be studying for Boards.” It’s a Great Mental De-Cluter – this big, scary, looming concept sucking the life out of your brain, draining your stamina and focus, is finally gone. My mind is so much clearer now – I can apply myself to other things!

And how fortunate that is; there are certainly enough other things to apply myself to these days. More to come on that at a later date!

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Communications Breakdown

(The Cadet Experience) Permanent link
 Jessie Lukasik I knew it was coming – I could tell from reading my own letters home to friends and family, counting the number of strange, new acronyms I toss around, listening to my shipmates and my quirky punch lines, reviewing my daily routine in my head – I knew what to expect when I went home on Thanksgiving leave. I knew it… but I still wasn’t prepared for what awaited me back in the civilian world: a communication breakdown of epic proportions.

You develop an entirely new language here at the Academy, jargon that has no point or purpose in the civilian world. This is the natural course of things with any job I suppose. Still, it’s utterly bizarre to go home, swap stories with your friends off in other colleges, and realize that you have to define every other word. Take a simple sentence you might use to describe a morning mishap:

“My clocks for morning formation were awful today, so the guidon told me I’d be doing 10s on the bulkhead by the OOD desk until he secured me.”

This makes perfect sense to a cadet – but such stories left my friends and family with great, gaping, “Huh?” looks on their faces. Coming home, I had to quite literally relearn normal speech. All the terms that had become a part of my daily life had to be obliterated temporarily for courtesy to those around me.

Additionally, just a semester of 4/c year completely warps your sense of humor. Things that the “normal world” doesn’t find all that funny – and really, honestly, shouldn’t be all that funny – suddenly have you bubbling with hilarity. How do you explain to the world back home how bizarrely amusing it is to bus to class in formation and be giggling because your bus is about to “run over” upper class blocking the path of your section? The idea that these poor pedestrians are about to get “hit by a bus” – but a bus of people – is completely ridiculous. But when you’re there, when you’re in a good mood, it can be really, really funny…

Maybe that’s how we get across the communication barrier going from the military to civilian world and back – take everything with a grain of salt. Maybe the military humor and military language may not be all that interesting to the guys back home – but I think anyone can appreciate someone with the ability to laugh at themselves. And 4/c life does leave ample opportunity for that!

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Snow Day

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jessie Lukasik While I am certainly no Southerner-at-heart, there are some things that have become ingrained in my head from living in Georgia my entire life. One of those things: utter fascination with snow. It’s not that we never get a good dusting of white back home, but that’s all it is – a dusting, and only, if ever, in late January or maybe February. And the minute a few flakes start floating down, the whole state freaks out. Schools shut down; all the grocery stores within a ten mile radius of the “bad weather” are depleted of their stocks of bread and milk; the phone lines get tied up with family members all abuzz about “the storm.”

Imagine my astonishment when I woke up this morning to find white on the ground…in November.

Everyone in the corps seemed to have their own take on the wintery weather. My roommate – a Houston, TX native – was almost beside herself with excitement. At the same time, another 4/c in my company spent the morning lamenting how this “isn’t even real snow.” Others just seem to hate snow in the first place, “real” or not. As for me, I am delighted. This simple little turn of events made my Monday.

We don’t get seasons like this in Georgia. Summer consists of blazing hot, soup-like mugginess; spring and autumn are temperate, generally crisp, but warm, and quite comfortable; and winter is a slog through numbing, drippy, gray slush. Our state isn’t like Florida, mind you – we can, in fact, identify four distinct seasons, but they’re all moderate. They lack the intensity and distinctive quality of northern seasons. Everything blends together…you miss out on the extremes of hot and cold, light and dark hours, sights and scents of the outdoors as the climate shifts.

I get a marvelous jolt of energy out of seemingly the most insignificant impressions, experiences, and sensations. Here in Connecticut, when I can walk outside and look around and see everything all powdered in white, feel the sharp breeze stinging my cheeks, feel how warm and protected I am under my jacket, and smell late fall in the air, that’s all it takes to put me in a blissful mood for the rest of the day.

Simply put, I think that here at the Academy, the world is just gorgeous. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to wake up in the morning, take one quick look around and honestly say, “Wow, I love my life.”

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Well, This is New

(Athletics, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jessie Lukasik I’m astounded. Last Saturday, I fractured my ankle. For all the time I’ve spent being active and rough-and-tumble, I’ve never had any sort of significant injury. How bizarre…

I’ve always been pretty durable – I like to think of myself as “elastic.” You can hit me, stress me, stretch me, strain me, and I’ll take the blow and spring right back, which has always come in handy on the rugby field. In my first year playing, my high school coach actually stuck me playing Flyhalf (a kind of “captain” of the back line) for that exact reason; he said something along the lines of, “The Flyhalf gets laid out all the time…and you take a hit well.” Thanks for that, coach.

Guess that wasn’t the case this time. It was October 16th, our last regular season rugby game; we were playing away at Providence College, it was an insanely gorgeous fall afternoon, and A-side had just gotten a win that would send them into the upper rounds of the playoffs. Needless to say, as we, the bold ladies of B-side (“Sweet Side”) took the field, we were all pretty pumped up. It was going to be a fabulous game.

Unfortunately, I only got about five minutes worth of playtime. There was one of those moments where, in the frenzy to win the ball, there were just too many people in one place at one time. I lunged for a tackle. I fell. Several other people fell. And someone fell right onto my vulnerable little outstretched ankle. There was a nasty cracking noise, and before I knew it I was being carried off the field.

I was confused…I didn’t bounce back this time. I broke. That’s not how it’s supposed to work!

But in all seriousness, I was apparently hurt pretty badly. I went down to the clinic Monday morning to get checked out, and they told me I have an avulsion fracture. I won’t go into the science of it – frankly, that isn’t all that important to me. What I care about right now is just this: when can I walk again? When can I run again? How long until I’m back out on the athletic field?

The diagnosis wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear – crutches for a week, and then a boot for 4 to 6 weeks. Yikes. I don’t know exactly how I’m supposed to do indoor track starting November 1st. If I can’t exercise like a normal, healthy cadet for over a month, I’m going to go absolutely stir-crazy! And what’s more, inane little daily tasks – even just getting to class – are needlessly difficult when you’re doing them one-legged and with arms tied up in crutches. I wish I had done more pushups earlier in the semester...every muscle in my upper body is shot from trying to haul myself around!

Still, looking on the bright side, other than some sore arms, I’m not in much pain. Actually, I’m pretty lucky to have played rugby for two full seasons before getting hurt…it’s inevitable with that sport. They made fun of me a little bit in the clinic. The conversation went something like: Clinic: “So, tell me what happened.” Me: “Well, I was playing rugby, and…” Clinic: “Oh God, not another one!” It seems that being on crutches is just another rugby team-bonding experience.

But I’m being a bit too cynical. There has been quite a bit of good that has come out of this injury, in a way. I have come to realize, once again, what a first-rate place the Academy is, what amazing people live and work here. I can’t limp three yards down the hallway without someone offering to hold a door, carry my bags, carry me, or even just ask, “How are you feeling?” It’s a far stretch from my high school – where people with crutches would occasionally get knocked over without anyone blinking an eye. The supportiveness and compassion here is profound. I guess if I’m going to be injured, this is the place to be.

(And just for the record – any prospective rugby players please don’t write it off just because it’s rough. Yes, people get messed up from time to time, but that happens in any sport. For my part, busted-up though I may be, I can’t wait to get back out there. All the bumps and bruises are worth it for the intensity, team bonds, and fun – trust me.)

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Fear or Respect: Which Do I Want?

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jessica Nelson "The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him." — G. K. Chesterton

Since returning to the Academy, the talk amongst the class of 2014 has been this upcoming summer. Sure, it is packed with Range week, CATP, Rules of the Road, Ludders, and other various weeks of training, but the main focus is the cadre experience. Whether it be as a CGAS, AIM, Waterfront, or Swab Summer cadre, every one of my classmates will be thrust into some sort of leadership experience that will be shaping the future generation of Coast Guard officers. There are mixtures of excitement and terror surrounding my class when we ponder the weight of exactly what we are entering into, and in a few weeks, we will be putting in our dream sheets for what cadre section we want. As such, I figured it would be a good time to reflect upon what type of cadre I want to be.

The general answer to this question is a “respected” one, but of course that answers nothing. Here is a little breakdown. Every former swab has seen both good and bad examples of leadership. I was very fortunate that my Swab Summer experience with cadre was mostly positive, but there are always stories of that one guy/gal who goes on a power trip and “wrecks” the swabs because they think that is the way to earn respect. So this leads me to the question that seems to be circulating around in conversations at the Academy: am I going to be like that cadre?

At the top of this blog, I have one of my favorite quotes. While this quote only embodies a small portion of my leadership philosophy, I think it appropriately sums up my answer to this question. I do not want to be like “those cadre”, because I will not be acting out in hatred towards swabs but out of love for what I am fighting for and that is the Coast Guard and the citizens that we protect. I will correct not to “wreck” the swabs but to instill the discipline that I know will be best for those they will one day save. I want to be a cadre that cares so deeply that my swabs would become successful officers of character that I am not afraid to fight for excellence. To sum it up, I want to be a cadre who is respected, not feared; who acts out in love, not hatred; who demands the best as a means to encourage the swabs to reach the bar but never to tear them down.

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Scholastic Steel Challenge 2011

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jessica Nelson This semester I decided to try out for the Combat Arms team, which is the Academy’s tactical shooting team. After an interview and a test shoot, I made the team and started the two-a-week practices. Us new team members started off by taking the basic pistol qualification test, which is a series of timed shooting intervals that range from 12 minutes to less than thirty seconds. Now, for some personal background, I am not a very experienced or practiced shooter. However, I knew this team would teach me a lot, and I would have some fun in the process. Still, to my dismay, I did poorly on this first basic pistol test, getting an 89 when I needed a 113 to pass. With the help of Gunner (the Academy’s Chief Warrant Officer for the range) and the rest of the team, I was able to pass the test the next practice with a 114. My next goal is Sharp Shooter or Expert, but these goals will definitely take some more practice.

So you might be wondering what exactly does the Combat Arms team do? I know when I first made the team, I wasn’t exactly sure either, but to give you an idea, here is what we did this past weekend.

On Friday morning, the team loaded up a couple of vans with three pistols and enough ammo for the weekend, and we headed up to Hartford for a brief pistol practice. When we reached Hartford, we set up two stages of the Scholastic Steel challenge that we were going to shoot the next day. While each stage is different, the general set up is to have four steel targets staggered apart and another steel target that acts as the stop plate. Then each contestant gets unlimited ammunition to hit the targets as fast as they can and finishing with the stop plate to end the timer. A good marksman can complete some of the stages in less than three seconds.

After running through the two stages for practice, we loaded up the vans again and headed up further north to stay at one of the team member’s house for the night. The next morning, we all bundled up for a day on the range and drove to Exeter, New Hampshire, where the Sig Sauer Academy is located. After we all registered and dry fire practiced some more, the Scholastic Steel Challenge began. Our team, along with the teams from Harvard, Yale, and Vermont, were broken into squads of five, and we each ran through four different stages. At each stage we were given five tries to reach our best time, with the worst time thrown out for grading purposes.

The first stage we went to, I went first for my squad, and let me tell you, I was nervous! After that however, I was raring to go and excited for the rest of the competition. Then came the second stage. Like I said before, I am not a great shooter, but that stage was beyond hard for me, and the third stage proved to be just as difficult.

By the time we got to the fourth stage, I was frustrated but determined to end well on the last stage. This time I went last, and when I stepped up to table, loaded the pistol, and got ready for the timer to start, my mind was focused on everything that I had been taught up to then. Line up the sites. Smooth trigger pull, and repeat. When the timer started, I focused in on the first target, pulled the trigger and missed. I shot again and again and missed again and again. Finally, I pulled the trigger and was rewarded with the ever-satisfying ping.

With the timer still racing, I quickly moved to the next target. Smooth trigger pull. Bang...ping! After that first target, I was able to hit all of the other targets in one or two shots, reaching one of my best times all day. It was a great way to finish off the competition. Overall, I had a great time and learned a lot to take with me into practices and future competitions. While the scores haven’t been finalized yet, I know the rest of the team had a lot of fun.

So that is just a brief example of what the Academy’s Combat Arms team does. Even though this is my first year doing it, I have really enjoyed the team and the sport itself. Everyone helps everyone on the range, and while we all have fun, we are all focused on safety and learning how to handle the firearms properly. These sorts of skills are definitely going to carry out into the Coast Guard, and I am excited to one day go to Boarding Officer School and learn how to use them to help with maritime law enforcement. As always, if you have any questions about the team or the Academy in general, send me an email! Happy Veteran’s Day and God bless.

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Tips on Applying

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jessica Nelson ‘Tis the season for applying and here are a few tips that helped me in my application process…

1. Put down every activity, club, and sport you are a part of. The Academy is looking for well-rounded individuals and is looking to see that you can do well in multiple areas, not just one. Be exhaustive in showing what you do. I put down sports, city races, community service, church involvement, honor society, etc. The point is to give the Academy a broad view of who you are.

2. Be yourself. In the essays, answer them in a way that truly reflects you. For example, my faith is a huge part of who I am, so in the essays, I wrote about that. Similarly, if sports are big to you, put that in there as well. The application is for the Academy to get to know you and see if you would be a good fit, so be personal.

3. Take your time. Each year thousands of students apply to the Coast Guard Academy, but only about 250-300 of them get in. One big factor differentiating those that get in and those that do not is effort. Be methodical and thoughtful as you write your application and essays. Think before you write, and edit when you do. You want to show the Academy your best, so take your time. It does not matter whether you get your application in the day it is due or a month before, what matters is the content.

4. Lastly, the biggest question I get is about grades. Personally, I was just an average homeschooled girl, who got good but not genius status grades. What was more important to the Academy was that I was well rounded and had taken on leadership roles in high school. Verify that your GPA and SAT scores meet the requirements, and then focus on the rest of who you are. Are you the captain of a sports team? An intern at your church? Do you get involved in community service? Like I mentioned earlier, the Academy wants to know that you are well rounded and have leadership potential. Grades are but a small piece of what the Academy looks at.

All in all, be yourself! Good luck on your applications, and if you have any more questions (I know I did when I was in your shoes), feel free to send them my way! God bless and happy studying!

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Summer and Now

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jessica Nelson Wow - This is way overdue, but hello again! Last time I wrote, I was still a 4/c and the class of 2015 was still a group of high school graduates. Since then, I have had a crazy, exciting and yet difficult summer of trainings; the class of 2015 reported in and completed Swab Summer; and we have both gone through the first five weeks of the school year.

To quickly, or not so quickly, recap the summer, I was on a 418 foot National Security Cutter, the USCGC Waesche, for five weeks. On board, I was assigned to the Deck Watch side and did everything from small boat inspections and handling to scrubbing rust off the side of the ship. I got to stand man overboard watch during a fueling at sea, break in helm and lookout, drive the ship during a weapons drill, and ultimately stand my first qualified watch as helm and lookout. Probably the most important aspect of this part of the summer was what it taught me about leadership. Not that I have my leadership philosophy completely figured out, but as a junior member of the crew, I got to observe the different leadership styles, both good and bad. Overall, I had a great time on the Waesche working with the junior enlisted and experiencing first hand the bond you can form with your crew.

After the Waesche, which was out of California, I flew to London, England to pick up the USCGC Eagle. We were supposed to get underway right away, but the gyrocompass broke so we wound up having ten days in London. It was so awesome! Sightseeing anyone? When we finally did get underway, we headed north and after one week underway, we moored up in Reykjavik, Iceland and spent three days there, giving tours and of course more sightseeing! After the stop in Iceland came the toughest part of the summer. We spent two weeks underway in some rough and freezing conditions, and being someone who gets sea sick, it was an interesting experience for me :).

Despite the craziness of it all, the coolest experiences of Eagle for me happened during this time. I loved climbing into the rigging and scurrying up the masts to handle the sails, so I volunteered to go up whenever they needed help. Well, one day we hit a small storm that was rocking the ship both side-to-side and front to back. It was like being on a roller coaster; minus the safety of knowing it was going to end in two minutes. Anyway, they needed people to climb up and pull in the sails, so I volunteered to go up. I can’t really explain how awesome it was, because it is something you just have to experience yourself. But, there was a combination of fear and shear elation; it felt like I was flying being up on this little cable, a hundred feet over the North Atlantic, going up and down with the waves. On top of the excitement, there was real pressure to focus and get the job done, as the safety of the crew and the wellbeing of the ship rested in getting the sails tied down. We finished the job, and life went on as normal aboard the ship, but that experience was definitely a highlight of my time on Eagle.

After two weeks, we pulled into Halifax, Nova Scotia and, by that time, I think everyone was ready to get home for a few weeks of leave. We still managed to have some fun in Halifax, got back aboard the ship, sailed for a week to Boston and debarked for leave. After six weeks in the freezing North Atlantic, it was pretty shocking when I got off of the plane in Hawaii, but it was so nice to be home!

Now it has been about five weeks into the school year, and it is crazy how much life changes from when you’re a 4/c to being a 3/c. Not only am I now allowed to look around and be a relatively normal person, I have more responsibilities, like taking care of a 4/c and making sure they are squared away academically and militarily. Not to borrow too much from Spiderman, but it is true that with the new rank has come way more responsibility both militarily and academically. I switched majors last semester to Civil Engineering, and while I love the classes, they are definitely harder than anything I have done before! But as always, I am so grateful to be at the Academy where everyone is willing to help you out. Good luck to all of those sending in their early admission applications for the Academy, and for those juniors interested in applying, I would definitely suggest trying for AIM, but that is a whole other topic of which I could write forever :). Feel free to send me questions, and I will try my best to respond!

Jessica.L.Nelson@uscga.edu

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Letter to the Class of 2015

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jessica Nelson Dear Class of 2015,

I would like to dedicate this blog entry to YOU :). First of all, I cannot express how excited I am for you to arrive. Not only because it will mean that I am no longer a 4/c, but also because I am excited to welcome another group of individuals committed to something bigger than themselves to this fine school. Just in my one year here, I have learned and matured in so many ways, so I hope you are pumped for what this next year will bring.

Right now you are probably thinking about Swab Summer. Will it be hard? Yes, I am not going to lie to you, but from personal experience, it is so worth it. Swab Summer pushes you mentally, physically, and emotionally. But the best part is that after the summer, you are mentally, physically, and emotionally stronger, and you walk away with some of your fondest memories and deepest friendships. I do not remember every single work-out session, but I do remember most of the fun and rewarding experiences. Like the times we made a time interval or when we marched down the street to the cadence of Taylor Swift. Swab Summer can be fun if you let it. So here are my top 5 dos and don’ts of the summer:

1. Come with a good attitude – You will be yelled at. I can guarantee that. It will be stressful, but you do not need to become stressed. It is all a matter of perspective. I remember the first time I got personally dropped into the push up position and was individually punished. Sure, it was scary and stressful, but I was able to walk away from it with a positive attitude because I understood that all in all, the cadre just didn’t want me to redo what I had just done. So, I would say prepare now to look at things in a way that absorbs the constructive criticism and throws out the rest.

2. Take the summer seriously – You will get the most out of your summer experience and the least amount of negative attention if you take the summer seriously. Work hard to achieve goals, push yourself. Those people that laughed the summer off as a joke not only hurt their team who relied on them, but they also hurt themselves. They did not learn anything from the summer, and they certainly did the most amounts of pushups.

3. Hydrate and bring DEODORANT! – Even if you don’t think you smell, you do! I thought I smelled like a bowl of petunias the whole summer, but I smell some of the clothes from the summer, and let me just say that I stunk. As for hydrating, you will sweat more than you ever thought you could and then some. You can always drink more water.

4. Take advantage of coach time and Vespers – Any opportunity that you have to leave Chase Hall, take it. I wanted to be on the dinghy sailing team just so I could go down to the waterfront during sports time and sail for an hour. It was super important to have those getaways. And on Sundays, take advantage of the hour for religious services. It is important to have those precious moments to just breathe and relax.

5. Know your fellow swabs – Swab Summer is definitely a team effort. You will only be able to make it through with the help of the rest of those in your company. Get to know their names. It may sound silly, but you will need these friendships to not only get through Swab Summer but also first year here at the Academy.

I am sure that there are many more things I could share with you about the summer, and if you have any specific questions, feel free to shoot me an email. Once again, I want to congratulate you on your appointments; it takes a strong individual to get accepted here, so you should be proud of it. I look forward to meeting you all next semester, and have a great summer!

Very Respectfully,
4/c (soon to be 3/c) Nelson

More about Jessica.

Summer, Snow and Sailing

(Athletics, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jessica Nelson Hey guys, its me again! I have been super busy recently with sports and academics, and I am getting pumped up for the summer, but even though my mind is thinking about summer, I am finding that New England is not. Two weeks ago, I walked outside in a t-shirt and shorts, thinking that spring had arrived and the weather was cooperating with temperatures in the upper fifties and sixties. Three days later it snowed, and I am back to wearing a fleece under my parka! I liked the snow a few months ago, but now it is time for spring, warmth and leaves on trees, etc. It might be a while before the weather remembers that the first official day of spring was a week ago and catches up with the calendar.

One awesome part of spring, despite the cold, is that the spring sailing season started! I crew for the dinghy team and have really enjoyed getting back on the water after three months of no sailing. We have only been back to practice for three weeks now, and I have already competed in two regattas. The whole team has really hit the ground running, and we have already had some substantial victories on the water! The Coast Guard Academy took sixth out of sixteen at the regatta I competed in this past weekend, and at the other regatta in Boston, our top boat took second in A division. This is panning out to be an exciting season and I am personally excited to watch the team push each other and give our best for the next few weeks of this short season.

In other news, the fourth class recently found out their summer assignments, and as we all get ready to go out to the fleet in a few short weeks, I can’t help but be a little nervous. I am moving from being a complete follower who is told where to look and how to eat, to a contributing member of a crew. I know that I will make my fair share of mistakes and learn many lessons, and I couldn’t be more excited about shipboard life and port calls. I am sure I will take away from this summer many life long memories and friendships, and I can’t wait to get started. But, while I can’t wait to be done with finals and get to my cutter, I am definitely nervous about the unknown. Questions such as: What will I be doing? Where will I be going and even, am I ready for the responsibility? are running through my mind. All in all though, I would leave yesterday to get on a Coast Guard cutter and start supporting the mission. This is what I am at the Academy to prepare for, and I couldn’t be happier to have the opportunity to try it out.

Thanks guys for reading and please feel free to write me with any questions! I am super excited to welcome the class of 2015 in only a few months, and if there are any questions about Swab Summer, I would love to help answer them.

More about Jessica.

What To Do About Boards?

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jessica Nelson Boards. Those six simple letters mean the world to a 4/c. They mean time taken away at night and on weekends. They mean repetition, stress, and worst of all, memorization. Boards is the 4/c indoctrination test, that my entire class must pass before we are able to move toward privileges. The months and weeks leading up to it are crunch time and can be extremely stressful.

First off, what is Boards? It is a test of nautical knowledge. From ranks and rates to the draft of an Island Class Cutter, any part of the 52-page packet was fair game on this ten question oral exam. The passing score was 8 out of 10.

I had good intentions to start studying early, and I took my Boards packet home with me over winter break but when the battle between sleeping and studying for Boards arose, sleep won every time. The first time I even glanced at the packet was on the flight home from break, a mere six weeks before the testing day.

I started off slow, memorizing the easy facts, and eventually ramped up the intensity to studying for one or more hours each night, spending even my snow days pouring over these 52 pages. Did I mention that the thing was 52-pages long?

In the weeks leading up to the fateful Boards testing day, I went through two mock Boards, so that I would know what was coming. These mock trials proved to be very helpful in getting prepared, but in each one I got a score of 6.5/10, a whole 1.5 points away from a passing grade. Yikes! I needed to work harder if I wanted to pass this thing the first time, so I studied harder.

Then the day came. My shoes were polished within a centimeter of perfection, and I probably lint-rolled my uniform five times right before. As I waited for my 0800 time slot to come, I watched one by one as my classmates walked in the testing room, yelled the mission and got tested. Then watched one by one as my classmates passed. With each pass, I was both relieved but incredibly nervous at the same time. Looking back, I was ridiculously nervous pacing back and forth, lint rolling, and repeating to myself the Academy’s mission.

After several “belay my lasts” and exaggerated pauses, I passed with a 9.5/10! More than the grade, however, it was nice to be done and to know that I could move past the endless hours of studying. I am certain that at least half of my class felt ten times lighter that day with it being over! It only took a few more weeks until my entire class passed, and now we are all enjoying our first set of privileges. We are now allowed to write on our white boards and listen to music out loud! While it seems small, you have no idea how revolutionary those concepts are! I mean, it’s almost like we are normal people again. Almost.

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Snow Day, 2011

(Just for Fun, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jessica Nelson So there I was eating dinner, halfway through a perfect square, when I first heard the noise.

"YES!" "WOHOO!"

Soon others joined in until the whole wardroom was full of cheering. At first I assumed that the other classes were playing some cruel joke to make the 4/c break their brace, but someone from my company ran up to me and told me the reason for all the commotion.

"School is canceled, Nelson!"

School canceled? And because of snow no less? This was something new to this Hawaii girl, whose idea of a day off was because a sweet set was coming in on the North Shore and all the students were taking a surf day. Needless to say, I was downright giddy about a snow day. And what a day it turned out to be! The whole campus was lively with people sledding, snowball fighting, and romping around in the winter wonderland. For me, it was quite possibly the best day here at the Academy. I had never played in that much snow before! My checklist consisted of making a snowman, making a snow angel, hiking all over the campus in the snow, having an epic snowball fight, and sledding. Then, of course, the day would not be complete with out a cup of hot cocoa tacked on to the end.

That snow day was a nice tension-breaker to the stress of coming back to the Academy. At the beginning of winter break, I was all excited for the new semester, but toward the end of the three-week leave period, I was dragging my feet about coming back. While I love the Academy, I had a hard time saying goodbye once again to my family and home. It was also not easy leaving sunny Hawaii to come back to the “Dark Ages” in New London, where the sun sets at 1630. I guess it was what I was making of it, because after playing around for a day and enjoying the cold, I actually kind of appreciate the climate change.

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The Cove 2010

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jessica Nelson This Thanksgiving I was blessed to go on a retreat to the BGA Retreat Center (“The Cove”) in the mountains around Ashville, North Carolina. About twenty-four cadets went with Officer’s Christian fellowship, and we got to stay from Thursday to Sunday. It was an amazing time of not only great food and scenery but also socializing with the other students. The Cove hosts all of the military academies every four years for this retreat. There were about seventy from the Air Force Academy and then at least twenty from each of the others. I absolutely loved meeting all of the cadets from the other academies, because while all the services are different, we all share the same basic experiences. But, of course, most conversations were spent bragging and comparing the different schools. What can I say; we are all 100% certain that “our” academy is the absolute best.

While I did not get to go home for Thanksgiving, I would not have traded this experience for anything. I made a ton of friends and strengthened the friendships I already had with the 4/c from CGA. It was a great experience to represent my school and my profession. I have never been so proud to walk around in my Coast Guard hoodie or talk Coast Guard with people.

Now I just have to get through finals, and I will have conquered the first semester as a 4/c! Only two weeks and I am home in Hawaii; then it’s Christmas time!! My roommate and I have already decorated for Christmas, and Chase Hall is bright with wrapping-papered doors and Christmas trees. While I do not have a tree, my green plant, the one on my bookshelf, is wrapped in green ribbon with a fake flower ornament. It is almost like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree!

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Live Long, Sail Often

(Athletics, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jessica Nelson This past week marked the end of the dinghy sailing season. It was getting way too cold out on the Thames River, and my Hawaiian blood was missing the warm Pacific Ocean. Despite the cold, I am sad to see it end, especially since it was the first season for me. I walked onto the team with only a year of sailing experience in single-handed craft (lasers) and only a vague idea of what it meant to do a roll tack, and am walking off knowing more than I ever realized existed.

At the beginning of the season, I was immediately placed as crew (the person in charge of the jib) with a second class. He taught me not only how to roll tack but basically how to race double-handed craft (FJs and 420s) in college competitions. The coaches also had me switch boats and sail with other skippers so that I got multiple viewpoints on what makes a good crew. I never realized how enormous a job the crew had until I came to the Academy!

With all of the new knowledge I gained from the team, I was able to compete in the Freshman Championships this past week with two of the top freshmen on the sailing team; we ranked third at that regatta! The whole CGA team did well in fact, as the woman’s double-handed team qualified for the Atlantic Coast Championships (ACCs). Go Lady Bears! This season was definitely one of the best experiences for me as a sailor, and I am so grateful for my amazing team. Bring on the spring season!

More about Jessica.

Aviation Day

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jessica Nelson Today was Aviation Day at the Coast Guard Academy, which consisted of several Coast Guard pilots flying in, talking with us, and giving us a tour of their aircraft. I was pumped to be around so many people that live out the Coast Guard mission every day. Think about it. By this time next week, how many people will they have helped, saved, or protected? As always happens when I ponder this thought, I simply cannot wait to get out to the fleet!

I was also reminded today of why I choose the Coast Guard in the first place. Last summer, I went through the AIM program here at the Academy, and one night my cadre told a story of a challenging Coast Guard helicopter rescue. Without going into too much detail, hearing this story was a defining moment in my decision process, and because of it, I was certain that the Coast Guard was where I wanted to be. Fast forward to Aviation Day, one of the pilots that visited was one of the pilots in that story!

This man, unbeknownst to him, had been tremendously influential in my career decision, and he was standing before me. This got me thinking. If he is just an average Coast Guardsmen, then that means that anyone who graduates from the Academy, including me, can one day be what he is already: a hero. Stories like his are not the exception; they happen everyday by normal people who have a passion for excellence and a strong resolve to help and protect those in need. It is because of this that I find myself content to remain here at the Academy and learn everything I can about becoming one of those leaders of character.

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A New Attitude

(Academics, Athletics, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jennifer Patron January is come and gone and I could not be happier with the way the semester is playing out so far. My classes are much better because I am taking more major-specific classes and I am training for my first marathon. I have already completed seven half marathons and it finally feels to take it up a notch. Luckily, there are classmates who are supportive and are also just as crazy as me to run so much. This time last year I was playing Lacrosse and although it was a great experience, I really wanted to focus on my personal lifetime goals. As for classes, I am also changing my habits and approaches. In high school, I was an avid student and it carried over to the Academy and continues to this day. What is changing is my understanding of how to handle specific classes based on the instructor.

During my 4/c year, teachers were very regimented and had schedules set in stone because the entire freshman class had the same courses. However this year, my instructors are free to alter and take out things from the syllabus. (This can get a little frustrating.) Nonetheless, one has to be on their toes and be prepared for anything. This is my new skill: preparing for ambiguity. Now, I know that seem to be contradicting and impossible but it makes things interesting. Militarily, the summer cadre assignments are still pending. I am requesting the prep program – Coast Guard Academy Scholars (CGAS) because that was my own stepping stone to the Academy and eventually a commission. For right now, all I can do is wait to hear who is assigned to what. More progress will be posted as soon as I hear anything. Lastly, I have 32 days until my big Spring Break trip to ROME! I am going with the Catholic Club (officially called St. Francis De Sales club). It’s going to be a great semester!

More about Jennifer.

Putting Finals Behind Me

(Academics, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jennifer Patron I can finally breathe and uplift the stressful burden we all know as finals. Its really ironic actually, finals week at the Academy is the calmest week of the entire semester; mainly because the school devotes 100% of its focus on academics, rather than the additional military and athletic obligations. This year, the majority of my finals were before the actual finals week. This made things very interesting because not only did I have to juggle the multiple everyday assignments, but also I had to study for finals. Amazingly, I made it out alive and well. I surprisingly was not as stressed as I thought I’d be and the exams were not as arduous as I presumed. This entire semester has been a rollercoaster of successes and failures and throughout my entire academic carrier; I have never worked so hard and had so many sleepless nights. The rumors of 3/c year being the most challenging are indeed true but as for anything difficult, it is the most rewarding once completely done.

As a Government major, I thought I would not be as stressed or overworked as my Engineering classmates but there were times where my roommate (Mechanical Engineer) was blissfully watching a movie while I was frantically writing a six page paper for one class and a four pager for another and reading half a book in one night. Nonetheless, the work was manageable and as the phrase goes, “out with the old and in with the new”. It’s time to store everything I have learned from last semester and bring in the new material.

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A Good Balance

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jennifer Patron As we come closer to the Dark Ages (a time in which academics are the most demanding and the sun sets a little too early and rises a bit too late), I am starting to feel bombarded with the amount of projects and tests closing in, just in time for the end of the semester. Nevertheless, I am confident everything will be fine. As a role model this year, I have found how important it is to have good communication with the 4/c. Because they are still relatively new to the Academy lifestyle, I often see a few who are still too apprehensive to speak to their chain of command. As a 3/c it is our role to allow them to feel comfortable to talk to us at the very least about any positive or negative events going on. I am very happy to be able to relate to both my 4/c and share my experiences with them. Aside from academics and military life, my overall life is going really well. Its funny to have my life divided into different sections but it’s the only way to maintain my sanity. For instance, I am currently on my way home (Newport, Rhode Island) and although I am always going to uphold the core values, I am also not going to keep my room “inspection ready”. It’s the little things in life the make a huge difference and that is one of the many things the Academy is teaching us.

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On Being a 3c

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jennifer Patron 3/c year, as the stereotype states, it is the most academically demanding year of the four years. However, not being braced up makes my experience here that much better. As I transition into my major-specific classes for Government, I am becoming more conformable with the flow of my schedule. I am currently taking Morals and Political Philosophy as well as Principles in American Government. Both are very interesting and it is even more thrilling to be able to be in a class with my fellow Government majors. Rather than an instructor forcing a discussion, I have noticed students leading many of the discussions.

As a 3/c, also known as the “role model” for the 4/c, I quickly became aware of my specific role this year. To an extent, the new 4/c immediately became my little brothers and sisters and because I perceived them in this manner, I want to make sure they are taken care of in any predicament such as I would for my actual younger brother and sister. It was a very odd transition from constantly being braced up to walking around carefree. Although now being able to walk on the sidewalk may not seem like a privilege to those in the civilian world, but to a new 3/c, it makes the difference between making it to class on time comfortably and speed walking at an uncomfortable stride.

As for athletics, I am in the middle of the Cross Country season and thus far we are doing very well as a team. Currently, we are ranked in the top ten for New England and are hoping to continue our success for the rest of the season. The freshman adapted well to the team and we are stuck together like glue.

For now, I am about to tackle another week here at the CGA and day by day, I have learned, is the best way.

More about Jennifer.

Don’t Eat the Marshmallows Yet…

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jennifer Patron My dad once gave me a book entitled "Don’t Eat the Marshmallows Yet…" by Joachim de Posada. The overall theme is patience and as a result, good things come with time. I didn’t think anything of it back then. Now I am beginning to see what my dad was trying to tell me. As 4/c year draws to a close, more and more privileges are earned. Although looking at food does not seem to be all that exciting, it means a great deal to a 4/c. Essentially, getting things taken away and given back gradually instills patience and it is probably one of the hardest virtues to uphold. I have learned not to complain but to understand the ‘why’. In addition to infusing life lessons, there is the education. Academics are tough but it is great to have shipmates who are all willing to work together to learn the material. December and April are the most demanding times of the academic year. Most of the major projects are due and instructors are racing the clock to teach the last bit of material before finals.

The 4/c are on the verge of carry-on, 3/c are almost allowed to wear civilian clothes, 2/c will have cars and 1/c will move on to bigger and better things. Spring is probably the most exciting time of the year. It has been a long year of 4/c duties and obligations but, the snow has melted, the birds are chirping and I can feel the sun on my skin and I am preparing for an exciting trip to Europe with Eagle. I know I’m proud to be here.

To the class of 2015, your time is coming soon. As the class of 2014 transitions to become your mentors, know you are in the hands of some great cadets. Swab Summer will test you mentally, physically, and success truly lies in teamwork. Regardless of where you came from, the end results will be the same: becoming cadets with sound bodies, sound hearts and alert minds. This time last year I was packing my things from NMMI (prep school) and getting ready to begin my life at the Academy. I didn’t anticipate how much my life would change. I have made great friends and its only gets better as time passes.

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Go Books, Go Bears

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jennifer Patron We are almost done with our 4/c year and I must say it is very exciting. As a celebration of our progress of 4/c year, the class of 2014 held a formal at which our class crest was unveiled. The crest is a symbol of our class and our motto: Aeterita Custodite Honorate Futura (honor past protecting future). It was great to see the class come together and celebrate. The follow weeks will be tough. However, they will move like lightning. Each class here at the academy is preparing for their prospective future and I firmly believe the 4/c are the most anxious for this year to come to a close. As we cadets say here “Go Books, Go Bears”.

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Fourth Class Challenges

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jennifer Patron As a 4/c, there are a series of challenges and traditions held at the Academy. The primary event is the dreaded Sea Trials at the conclusion of Swab Summer, a fifteen-hour challenge filled with physical discipline and teamwork. The second event is 101st night, which takes place in the second semester right before Boards. 101st night indicates 100 days until graduation for the 1/c. On that occasion, 4/c are asked a series of indoc questions throughout a tour of Chase Hall; if one is unable to answer a question, incentive training, also known at IT, was implemented.

The third event 4/c have are Boards. In this situation, the freshmen are given a 52-page packet to memorize and are expected to recite. During the actual Boards session, a 1/c will give ten questions from the packet. The goal is to answer at least eight correctly. The success of passing Boards brings more privileges such as listening to music out loud or not writing note cards for every destination. Lastly, 4/c have the Challenge of the Guardian. Another Sea Trial environment, but it allows the 3/c develop leadership and 4/c to reinforce teamwork. Currently, the Class of 2014 has gone through Boards and are anticipating the full competition of this evolution (it takes place during a span of days) . I have spent hours memorizing, repeating, learning, and repeating again the required indoc and I feel prepared. With the help of my 3/c and peers, Boards will become another tradition we have completed as a team.

More about Jennifer.

How Lucky I Am Today

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jennifer Patron Winter leave came and went. It was a much-needed break and I am recharged and ready for the next semester. The final week prior to winter leave was very hectic. Final exams were tough and required a great deal of preparation. I am happy to say I did prepare well. Over leave, I went to New York City, Boston, and relaxed at home in Newport, Rhode Island. I was able to catch up and spend quality bonding time with the ones I love most.

Because the Academy is very demanding, it is important to have a moment to “stop and smell the roses.” Being home gave me the ability to take a breath and realize how lucky I am today. I firmly believe success at the Academy is derived from personal determination as well as support. As a Patron, I know I will always have my family there to encourage me along the way as I begin the second semester at the USCGA.

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Support Systems

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jennifer Patron This past month has been more demanding than I have ever experienced. With the semester closing, I find myself spending more time with teachers, reinforcing past material to ensure I do well. The good news is that support is always available if you make the effort to find it, and the instructors at the Academy are always more than willing to sit and go over material.

School is always a priority, but my family is a huge part of my life and as of last month we found out my dad, a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, is scheduled for deployment this month. The deployment made changes to plans my family had for Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, this will be our third deployment and by this time we know what to expect to an extent. With my sister and me out of the house, my brother and my mom are the only ones at home, it is important my sister and I do our best from afar to minimize problems and be more of helpful rather than hindering.

My upperclassmen have been very supportive and I could not be more grateful. I requested a short (going home from Saturday to Sunday) the weekend my father leaves and my Company Commander as well as the rest of the chain of command requested I receive a long (Friday to Sunday). The “Special” was routed up to our company officer who determined whether I would be able to go home. In the end, I will be able to go home Friday and spend the entire weekend with my family and say goodbye to my dad for awhile. I don’t think any other place would show such empathy like the Academy.

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Cross Country

(Athletics, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Jennifer Patron I am currently on a bus heading back to the Academy after a fantastic 6K race named the Plansky Invitational. We are just about wrapping up the season with only two races remaining. I have been competing since my freshman year of high school, through prep school, and now here. The Cross Country team at the Academy is fantastic. As a 4/c, you are kept really busy, but being a part of a team makes all the difference. I was included in the group instantly because, in sports, your teammates treat you as part of the family. We travel to all kinds of great places. Every course we race has an element that makes it unique.

Never having lived on the East Coast, I was always fascinated with the changing of the seasons; and this past race was full of turning leaves. I loved it! The hills are a big difference from what I am used to as well, but every run is fun. Practices are everyday with a race on Saturdays, and a day of rest on Sunday. It becomes part of your everyday schedule and for me, Cross Country practice is my favorite part of the day. We sometimes have speed workouts over at Connecticut College, and other days we have fifty minute runs along the coast at Harkness Park or Bluff Point. These next few weeks will be challenging because of preparation for the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) games, but it will be fun the whole way through.

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Being Appointed to Prep School

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Carlos Quintero Around the winter holidays, three years ago, was the time when I received a letter from CGA Admissions letting me know whether I received my appointment or not. After applying through “early action” I did not receive my appointment, but I did not give up. Admissions reviewed my profile a second time, and around March I received word that I was accepted as a Coast Guard Scholar. CGAS is a program that gives prospective cadets a chance to improve areas of deficiency, and a better shot at receiving an appointment. Most of my classmates that attended New Mexico Military Institute for prep school received appointments, after improving in the field of academics.

When I received the letter to attend prep school, I was discouraged at first because I thought it was a waste of a year. It was the complete opposite; prep school gave me a chance to improve my academics and set me up for success at the Academy. Something that appealed to me about CGAS was that school was paid for along with some extra money for spending. To be honest, as a prep for that year, we made more money than we do at the Academy now. There were so many Coast Guard classmates at prep school that you never felt like the Academy had forgotten about us. The Academy did a good job of giving us our own personal connections to the school, so we never felt left out.

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Approaching Winter Break

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Carlos Quintero Thanksgiving is a nice break right before finals review and then finals week. Over break I always do the things that I am not able to do while I am at the Academy. I spend a lot of time catching up with my family, since I rarely get a chance to be with them. It could be weird to be with your high school friends if you don’t keep up with them as the years go on, that is because it is harder to connect with each other’s lifestyles. As a cadet you learn to enjoy the little things, and what my friends at home take for granted might be a privilege for me. Things like going on a drive, going out to eat and being able to wake up whenever.

Finals week is not bad at all. Cadets describe it as a very “chill” week, that is because you just study, eat, sleep and workout. There are no collateral duties you have to worry about, like usual. During the holidays the Academy is in a happy mood. We decorate our rooms, which makes the environment more pleasant.

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A Memorable Summer

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Carlos Quintero Last year some upper-class cadets said that they lived for their assignments during the summer. I came to realize what they meant by that the summer after finishing 4/c (freshmen) year. The previous two summers were nothing but stressful. After graduating high school, I went to CGAS (Coast Guard Academy Scholars) and then on to Prep School in New Mexico. Then a summer later was Swab Summer; so last summer was one of my most memorable life experiences. For five weeks I was stationed in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. The small boat station was mostly used for law enforcement along with search and rescue on the rivers, and sound surrounding Elizabeth City. The next assignment was on USCGC Eagle, which we boarded when it was docked in London, England. Originally we were only going to be in London for three days, but because of gyrocompass malfunctions our stay was extended for 10 days. In those 10 days, I was able to tour all different parts of London. Reykjavík, Iceland was the next stop and on the transit there we experienced what its like to be in a storm. From Iceland we went up to the Arctic Circle then turned around to reach Halifax, Nova Scotia. From Halifax we sailed back to Boston where our journey ended. The whole experience was amazing; I wish I could do it again.

Returning to the Academy from the summer was different, because my classmates and I were no longer 4/c. Being a 3/c meant that we had more responsibilities, but with that came more privileges. For example, we can go out Friday nights, we don’t have to wear our uniforms out in town, among other things. I played rugby for a month into the school year, but then stopped to focus on academics, which is the most important thing. At the moment I’m taking part of intercompany sports, which is a variety of games like football, softball, basketball, volleyball and soccer. A couple of weeks ago, I did all my required community service hours by helping at an ovarian cancer event. I thought I was only going there to receive my required hours, but I was moved by the event and I was able to meet some people from the area. As a Management major, the Introduction to Business class I am taking right now has me writing about two papers a week. But if I do most of it on the weekend, it opens up a lot of time during the week. Physics is a required course for every major and is the class that takes up most of my time. During the class period we work on labs to reinforce concepts, which I like to do. If you are interested in aviation, last weekend some buses took us out to a nearby airport where we got the chance to see and go aboard many Coast Guard aircrafts. On nights like this one when I have a decent amount of work, I have to sometimes do part of it during the day so that later at night you have time to maybe catch a sports game. Speaking of homework, I better turn to that.

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Getting Home

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Megan Rudy This month flew by. Now I am just counting down until Christmas break. I am tired of the constant work…papers, tests and projects and now it is only two weeks until finals and home! I had an interesting start to Thanksgiving break…I had a flight at six and was supposed to get on a 4 a.m. bus to the Hartford airport, but unfortunately the bus never showed and there were 30 of us waiting outside in the rain for half an hour. When we called the bus company they said that there had been no buses scheduled! Finally a senior drove the six of us on the earliest flight to the airport and everyone else had to take taxis. We made it there at boarding time and I was so thankful to make it on the plane and just get home.

I got back from Thanksgiving leave on Sunday and I had such a nice time visiting my grandparents and sister. I haven’t seen my sister in half a year and it was so cool to hear about what she’s been doing since graduating high school. I’m really jealous she has been training to become a fire fighter with Americorps. We had fun being home and driving by our old high school and seeing old friends. It feels like forever ago that I was in high school and living at home.

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October Activities

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Megan Rudy This month went by extremely fast. I am ready to be done with dance team, although it has been so much fun, but I am excited to be able to sleep after class. We just traveled to Canada and had an amazing time. I had never been to Canada and it was so cool to see Montreal. We had our performance on the first day after we arrived and we had to do flags for Windjammers (the band) then we had the rest of the time to shop and see Canada. It was also the week before Halloween so we got to dress up in our costumes and go to dinner and see all the Canadian people in their Halloween costumes. Then the weekend after we got back we all had to work hard to catch up on what we had missed. The next weekend was Halloween and our dance team prepared a flash mob to perform at dinner in the wardroom, it was so much fun but I think a lot of people were confused and it was really hard to do the dance with so many people in the way.

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End of September

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Megan Rudy It’s almost the end of the quarter but Christmas break is not coming soon enough. This semester has definitely been stressful. I joined dance team and it’s so much fun but we were required to do flags for Windjammers to get a sports credit so it’s almost like were in two separate sports and it’s super tiring to have to learn different routines and how to do flags. We have had extended practices for a few weeks and it’s exhausting. I’m not used to having my weekends so full.

This was the first weekend I had to just relax, so one of my friends and I walked to downtown New London and had gelato and then we got a massage. It was the best day I’ve had this whole year since school started. In two weeks dance team is going to Canada and I can’t wait! Then dance will be over and I will start boxing.

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Back to School

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Megan Rudy Although my three weeks of leave went by way too fast, I was very excited to get back to school and see all my friends. It was weird being home and seeing all my friends from high school. It was hard to talk to some of them because they just couldn’t understand what I’ve been through this year or weren’t interested. One of my best friends goes to the Naval Academy and I got to see him for one day and it was so much fun to exchange stories. Now I’m thinking about going on exchange there for a semester. They have way different rules than us; some better and some worse. I spent the majority of my break sleeping and visiting relatives and eating frozen yogurt in Boulder.

Finally, it was time to return to school and getting through CAP week was a struggle, getting used to wearing trops all the time and not being able to nap during the day. I was exhausted by the end of the week and wanted my summer back. Now I’ve gotten through the first week of school and it’s taking a while to get used to it they say you are supposed to have more free time 3/c year but so far that’s not the case. I just don’t have to clean anymore but I’m still taking 20 credits, which is going to be difficult. But I’m excited for our first Labor Day long this weekend since I’m going to Long Island with my roommate.

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Small Boat Station, Fort Myers Beach, Florida

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Megan Rudy My classmates and I got off the plane from Germany, and took a two hour bus from Boston back to the Academy. We had two days to repack and get ready for our second phase of the summer. I was stationed in Florida with one of my best friends, Katie. We were so excited to go to Florida and have a somewhat relaxing six weeks of summer.

We arrived in Florida on a Friday and waited outside the airport in the heat and humidity for someone from the station to pick us up. Finally a young seaman picked us up and we talked the whole way back. She had gone to college in Colorado and we talked about how much we missed the mountains. I was super excited to be in Florida and to learn more about stations and the Coast Guard. We arrived at station and were told that we would be in different rooms. I was downstairs in the CO’s room, which was very nice, and I had only one roommate, while Katie was upstairs in female berthing with four roommates. We had arrived after dinner had been served, so we were given leftovers from the fridge. We met our sponsors and went around getting our sign-offs and then helped with clean-ups, which occur before the new duty section arrives, which is every two days. The next day we woke up to reveille at 7 a.m. and went outside to see what was going on. We helped with boat checks and saw dolphins. We met again with our sponsors and were given or comms packet and our schedule, which we started right away. We were supposed to get communications qualified – a duty in which you answer the station radios and phone and you have to know what to do and say in case of emergency.

We continued getting sign-offs and our schedule for a week until we realized that it was pointless to go into the comms office at certain times because there were new break-ins and it was impossible to get sign-offs. Slowly we began to do our own thing, but it was hard to talk to people on station because a lot of them kind of avoided us. After nearly completing our sign-offs we were told that we had to get everything resigned by officers. This just made us annoyed, because we had already been there three weeks and were ready for our board and we were told to start over. We also had started running to the beach everyday for our workout, which was really nice and we had to workout a lot after gaining some extra weight on Eagle.

After a while, we started doing boat crew stuff and going out on night patrols. It was really cool to actually be out and see what they do. I got to help with boardings and went on a search and rescue mission for a guy who’s Jet Ski had broken down. People then began to talk to us more and we found a lot of things out about the station. Both duty sections seemed to always gossip about each other and compete. It was really funny to watch because we were there all the time. Then, Katie and I helped three of the petty officers build two piers which was a 5 hour project for two days in the middle of the afternoon in Florida. Although it was very hot and the work was hard, it was also rewarding, and I think it made the enlisted people on station respect us more. The next day, we got pepper sprayed, which was also an experience I will never forget. At that point, we only had one day left until we had our summer leave and I went home to Colorado.

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First Phase Eagle

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Megan Rudy I don’t even know where to begin. School ended and we stayed up all night packing our rooms up and getting ready for the 21-day voyage across the Atlantic. The morning before we left, we realized that we would probably need our sweatshirts that we had already packed and put in the trunk room, so we had to go to the book store and buy some warmer clothes, which needed to be squished into our already bursting sea bags. Then we took the yellow school bus down to New London to board Eagle. The first night we were lucky enough to get libo so we went out to dinner at Chili’s and had our last meal on land. We made one final Target run and came back to watch a movie with our classmates on the mess deck. Everything seemed calm and fun. The next morning we woke up early to sail stations and set sail.

On the second day at sea, the sun was out and everyone was on the waist sleeping, because we weren’t yet used to the listing and were extremely tired. That night, the sewage backfired into the female head and a lot of people had to stand in sewage and clean it up. The next morning, the gale hit. We woke up to the alarm of sail stations and quickly changed into foul weather gear and climbed up to the deck, where there were lines across the deck to grab so that we wouldn’t fall but, of course, I fell as soon as I had crossed the middle of the waste. Moments later I turned around to see a classmate of mine fly from one end of the ship to the other into a female crewmember. This ended up in her breaking her leg! We made it through the sail station, which lasted almost three hours in the freezing cold, 20 knot wind with 20 foot wave splashing over the waste. The Captain decided that the conditions were so bad that he sent most of the cadets down to our berthing areas to sleep/wait out the storm. Below deck was not much better. The peanut butter jars from the mess deck had flown into the walls and there was nasty stuff on the floors, walls and ceiling and all of the sick people were sitting down there, because the center of the ship is the least rocky. In my berthing area everyone but me and a couple others were on the ground or in their racks throwing up, so I crawled in my top rack and laid there for several hours with my hands covering my nose, ears and my eyes shut. Finally, we were called on deck after the storm and there was a lot of repairing and cleaning to fix the damage done.

The rest of the voyage seemed like nothing after that incident, it was mostly foggy and rainy and cold the whole way to Ireland, and we hit a small storm off Ireland, which was so uneventful that I even climbed to the ta’gallant during the storm which was scary yet exhilarating. We were listing so far that the water seemed pretty close to the sails. I climbed down from sail stations and was looking forward to the curry dinner, but while I was walking to the benches with my tray in hand, a fellow shipmate who had lost control flew into me, spilling the green curry all over me and my tea hit an FS crew member. After this, we proceeded to sail stations again, which I had to do covered in curry.

We finally arrived in Ireland, which was a blast. I spent time with my friends on land and since we arrived a day early we got two nights of overnight libo and had a traditional Irish meal and went shopping all day. The trip to Germany went by quickly and my family visited me there and I got to give them a tour of Eagle, then we departed for London where we only got 5 hours of libo, then flew back to New London.

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This Summer

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Megan Rudy This semester has really flown by! We already have wardroom carry on and next week we are getting full carry-on since Challenge of the Guardian was on Saturday. I was unable to participate because I had two soccer games but everyone has said that it was not as bad as last year. I have found out my company for the next three years, I will be in Echo, and I am happy because one of my really good friends is coming with me. I am sad to leave Hotel and my best friend 4/c Townsend but luckily she is only one deck below me.

I cannot believe there are only two weeks left of school and then off to Eagle. I won’t be back to the Academy for nine weeks!!!! After Eagle I will be at the Fort Meyers Beach small boat station in Florida and I am stationed with one of my best friends 4/c Anderson so I’m super excited for this summer. After that, I’m going to Colorado to stay with my grandparents and catch up with high school friends. I just have to make it through this last week of tests and finals and then I’m on my way to being a 3/c!!!!!!!!

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Megan's March Madness

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Megan Rudy This month has flown by. Other than the occasional tests and regular school work, there wasn’t too much going on, but starting spring soccer has made the weeks fly. Also, Katie and I have been painting for at least a couple hours each week and it’s been really fun; we even entered some of our paintings in the art show.

We had formal room and wing this weekend and it was the first time our company went to bed before 11!! Usually we start too late and are up until 3. During formal room and wing I lost my W2 form for my taxes so I’m freaking out and I don’t know what to do, because taxes are due in a week.

We also were told that it was the best formal room and wing that Commander had ever seen, but even then we didn’t get wardroom carry-on yesterday at lunch, which we were all expecting. Even after they told us we would get it! Now we are having our last formal room and wing in a week, which I don’t understand because we just had one.

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February

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Megan Rudy This semester has flown by so far. We got back from winter break and have had four day weeks for over a month because of snow days. This last two weeks were the craziest ever. We had 101st night which made us sore and tired all week, then on Sunday we had boards. We studied like crazy and it is such a relief to have passed and be done with it. Boards also made this week harder because I put everything else off until now. We had two tests this week along with lots of other stuff and I am so happy to be done with today. Now life can go back to normal and I don’t have to worry about studying indoc every night.

This past weekend was Presidents’ Weekend and it was so much fun! It’s the first time since Christmas break that I’ve been out of Connecticut. It was such a relief to just relax and not have to worry about homework or studying. My old roommate and I decided to go to NYC for the night and we had a great time. Yesterday, I stayed the night with some people I originally knew in Colorado, but who live ten minutes away from the Academy in Rhode Island. It was great to have a wonderful home-cooked meal and I was sent back with brownies, pizza and lots of treats. Now there are only two weeks to go until spring break! I am so excited that this semester is coming to an end, and am thrilled at the idea of no longer being a 4/c. Brianna and I are going to stay in Arizona with my uncle, so hopefully it will be really warm and we can just relax!

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Arriving Back

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Megan Rudy I have finally arrived back at the Academy and am nervous but also excited to finish the last semester of 4/c year. MAP week, or the week in between break and beginning classes has not been so great for me. I started off with a terrible stomach bug and had to spend the night in the ward, or doctor’s office. I am feeling much better, but had to miss out on a lot of things like our company photo. Luckily, my friends moved my room for me because our deadline to move in is tomorrow morning when Admiral Papp does his walkthrough. I have just finished stowing everything, which was hard, because my new room is a lot smaller, also there is no mirror! My new room is at the other end of the company from all of my best friends and two of my friends didn’t even have to move rooms, I guess I’ll just end up getting more exercise!!!

Tomorrow is my BFF’s Birthday and I’m hoping that I won’t forget because since I’m sick I’ve been forgetting a lot of things. I’m just glad I’m sick now and not during the school year. I am looking forward to getting this semester over with and although boards are coming up, I’m hoping things will be easier since I’m used to everything and I don’t have to take SED. Naut Sci and Macro seem like much better classes than SED and History. We also get to take personal defense this semester, which should be fun.

Feel free to contact me. My email is Megan.M.Rudy@uscga.edu

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Upon Completion of the First Quarter

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Megan Rudy This quarter has gone by extremely fast! It’s true that the days are long but weeks are short. It feels like forever ago when I was a swab. The short days of winter will make it hard to keep up the 4/c expectations of bracing up and squaring. It’s getting dark at five o’clock, so I’ve been going to bed much earlier than before, but partly because I’ve learned how to manage my time much better since the beginning of the quarter. I have become very close to my friends in Hotel Company, and sometimes it’s hard to get work done. I’ve learned to prioritize and save the fun for the weekends. Sports practice and looking forward to Friday Night Fights (boxing matches that happen every other Friday between cadets in the boxing club) also make living here much more enjoyable. My first fight was fun, the alumni center was packed and I could feel the enthusiasm of everyone watching, which gave me the huge adrenaline rush to make it through all three rounds. It’s also a great chance to fight your cadre!

Last month was very eventful, four of my best friends from my company and I asked several upper-class to borrow their bicycles. We biked nearly six miles to Ocean Beach, and on the way, we stopped at a shack on the side of the road to pick up clam chowder and fried seafood for a picnic. We ended up going into the old arcade on the beach where we won lots of prizes. That same month, we met the Commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Papp. Someone asked him for a short (when we get to spend a Saturday overnight away from the Academy), which we got, so my friends and I decided to go to New York City for the night! Doing fun and spontaneous things is what keeps you going here. This weekend my roommate and I went to Boston and got to stay at Harvard with one of my friends. The Academy is a pretty short distance from New York City and Boston, and you can get really good train ticket discounts for being in the military.

This Friday is powder-puff football, where we will get to play against our cadre, and get out of formal room and wing! Some boys in our company are training the girls to play football. I’m really excited; I am playing wide receiver. Also, Christmas break is coming up. I’m thrilled to see my family; I haven’t seen them since R-Day, but I am not looking forward to the 27 hour flight to Bulgaria, or the time change. I am proud to go back and share my stories about boot camp with some of the Marines at the embassy!

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4c Windjammers Season 2010

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2014) Permanent link
 Anna Ruth As the first semester of my 4/c year is coming to a close, I realize that my involvement in extracurricular activities has gotten me through the confusing and stressful haze of my new world. As a 4/c, liberty from campus is scarce, and overnights away from the Academy are almost non-existent. While most of my friends have stayed on campus every weekend, I was given multiple opportunities to escape for brief periods of time.

My chief activity is the Windjammers Drum and Bugle Corps, the Academy’s marching band. I was really involved with band in high school, which made the transition much easier. In high school, I played trumpet, but the first day of practice this year, I switched to tuba. I’m so happy with my choice because I got to learn something new with people who were extremely knowledgeable and encouraging. I’m the only girl in the tuba section, and, as a result, I gained the three brothers I never had. Band was a great way to feel welcomed by a group of cadets that I would not have met otherwise.

We have band practice every day from 4:00 to 6:00, which is the corps wide sports period. On Saturdays (and some weekdays) throughout the fall, we perform at games, parades, and other schools. So far this year, we have been to the Big E Fair in Massachusetts, Westfield State (an away football game), Six Flags, and Montreal, Canada. In Canada, we performed our show, the Lion King, at a college game and then explored the city. This past Tuesday, we had our professional recording of the show, and this coming Thursday, we will be driving to New York City to march in the Veteran’s Day Parade.

When people say how daunting 4/c year is, they are mainly speaking for those cadets who are not involved in activities that let them get away. I’m actually enjoying my first semester so far, and I give Windjammers most of the credit. One of my favorite memories was when we made a surprise appearance at a volleyball game. We ran in with our instruments, our drum major screamed at the top of his lungs “MORTAL COMBAT”, and we started playing as loud as we could. The team was so excited that we came to support them! I look forward to practice every day, and it’s saddening that our season ends on Thursday. Even in a few short months, I have made great friends and found a place for me here at the Academy.

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