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cadet blogs

Finals and Winter Leave

(Academics, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Christina Bilodeau Finals week is very different at the Academy compared to a normal week here. The corps of cadets is allowed to completely focus on academics with out as many military obligations or formations. I had four finals to take during the exam period, and since I did not have a final on Monday I went to my sponsor mom’s house with my friend, 4/c Lutton. She and I relaxed, studied, and slept. My sponsor mom made us feel very welcome and comfortable, which was exactly what we needed during a stressful academic time. On Sunday 4/c Lutton and I went to a light parade in Niantic. I had never experienced a light parade before but it was very fun and it helped us get out and forget our studies for a few hours.

Finals themselves went fairly well, and I finished with a decent GPA. I felt academically challenged this past semester and I am definitely ready for a fresh start and hopefully an improvement for the spring semester. My schedule this semester consists of Writing about Lit, Multivariable Calculus, Personal Defense, Principles of Fitness and Wellness, Chemistry II, Navigation, and Macroeconomics. This appeals to me more than last semesters schedule so I hope I am able to improve my academic standing.

Winter leave felt short but it was incredible to spend time with my family and friends from home. I spent a week in Naples, Florida visiting family, soaking up the sun, and collecting shells from the beach. Although I felt a pit in my stomach upon returning, I know that eventually during this semester we will transition away from being 4/c. This idea and the people I spend time with here are two major aspects that keep me going strong and happy to be back at the Academy.

More about Christina.

Returning from Thanksgiving Break

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Christina Bilodeau Thanksgiving break was a great opportunity to catch up on sleep and spend time with my family. Although it was a very short period of time, I was thankful that I could go home to Maine where there was surprisingly warmer weather than usual. I spent my time at home showing a fellow shipmate from the Academy my hometown, eating lobster and my mother’s home cooked meals, and spending time with my parents and sister.

I had more butterflies in my stomach returning to the Academy from Thanksgiving than I did on Reporting-In Day. I was nervous to pick up where I left off; although, once I got into the swing of things, it was like second nature. On the first Friday back, the 4/c were given full carry-on as a privilege from a fellow 4/c that assumed the role of “Assistant Commandant of Cadets” from trick-or-treating on Halloween. The same weekend after we returned I experienced my first military formal. As a 4/c we had to wear the dinner dress uniform, which is not exactly flattering, but I felt comfortable wearing it because the rest of my shipmates had to wear it, too. My friend from Delta did my hair so I could feel like more of a girl for the formal. It was a good experience and the people I was with made it fun and enjoyable.

More about Christina.

The End of the First Semester

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Christina Bilodeau The first semester of 4/c year is truly flying by. I have received good and average grades and kept myself thinking positively because 4/c year can be a challenge academically and militarily. Right now I am working on a packet given to 4/c. We have to search and learn 100 questions pertaining to life at the Academy and common indoc. Once we learn the material, our upperclassmen have to sign off the 100 items before finals week.

I have started going to bed earlier because I figured out how to effectively manage my time; although Sundays still seem to be my heaviest workload days. Our volleyball team just ended the season by winning the ECAC championship this past Veteran’s Day Weekend. It was a great journey and I feel very close knit with the team. My parents came for the tournament and we had a “long” so I spent the night with them in a hotel. I am looking forward to going home for Thanksgiving. It will be my second time home since Reporting-In Day and the first time seeing my sister in five months.

It will be a good change to have time to myself during sports period to go for long runs and work out on my own. There is no doubt that I will take occasional naps, too. Finals will be quickly approaching after Thanksgiving, then we will be done with what I have heard is the hardest semester at the Academy.

More about Christina.

The Journey Has Been Incredible

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Christina Bilodeau Swab Summer felt like it would never end, and now I find myself already headed towards midterms of the fall semester. Delta, the company I was placed in starting on Reporting-In Day, had 37 Swabs. We finished the summer with only 30. The group of us became very close over the summer, having to adjust our lifestyles from civilian to military in just a short seven weeks. These “short” seven weeks felt like the longest weeks I have ever experienced. We were constantly pushed outside of our “comfort” zones every minute of the day. I have met best friends here that I can fully trust and completed tasks that I never thought my body or mind could handle.

The journey has been incredible so far; the physical and mental challenges we have faced here are indescribable and rewarding. Transitioning from the summer to the academic school year was definitely a challenge but I am glad that I now can manage my own schedule. I begin each day before six a.m. and progress until the early hours of the morning going to classes, volleyball practice and games, military trainings, drill practice, or doing my schoolwork.

After our volleyball games this Saturday, I am finally going home for the long Columbus Day weekend. My roommate and friend are also coming along. It will be weird to have my two worlds (home and the Academy), come together. I have yet to go home since Reporting-In Day in June so I am ready to see Maine again!

More about Christina.

My Choice

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Sara Cantrell One year ago, I remember myself back home trying to figure out which school to go to. This is a huge decision for anyone applying or already with appointments and the best advice I can give is to choose the place YOU want to be. I stress the “you” so much because I know last year at this time I was trying to decide between the Coast Guard Academy and the Naval Academy. I knew I wanted to go into the military, but I wasn’t quite sure of what service to pick. My Grandpa was team Naval Academy and my parents were for the Coast Guard Academy, but either way I went, I knew that my family would be proud of me and would support me the whole way through. I made a list of pros and cons for both schools and by myself choose what service I was going to be a part of.

I visited both schools and talked to multiple people trying to get perspectives on each service. By February I had no doubt in my mind that my place was in the Coast Guard. After being a part of this incredible service for six months I can say that I made the best decision of my life. I love everything single aspect of this Academy and this service and I cannot see myself at any other place. I am also proud of the fact that my decision was solely based on me and what I wanted, because you will not make it far in anything you do if it’s not you who wants to do it. As you continue to apply and receive acceptance letters you will receive many opinions from others on the school they believe you should attend, but remember in the end it’s your life and your hard work that will be committed to the organization. Good luck with the application process and congratulations if you have been accepted!

More about Sara.

The Challenge of a New Semester

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Sara Cantrell Being back at the Academy has, no lie, been tough but now that the first week of classes is over, I am beginning to get the feel for everything and getting back into the swing of things. After successfully finishing my first semester at the Coast Guard Academy, I went home to Florida for two and a half weeks. It was one of the greatest feelings to take off my uniform and put on civilian clothes! I will admit, at first I felt a little awkward in blue jeans, but after a few hours that wore off and I was happy to be home. I got to spend a lot of time with my best friend, Alexa, who attends the University of Georgia. We went to the beach almost every day and we got to talk about everything that had happened these last six months. It was also great to spend Christmas with my family! My mom was so happy that my brother and I were both home because this has been the first year that she has dealt with both of us being gone, so I know she was really happy to have the whole family together again. While I was home I realized how much I missed my friends back at CGA; you don’t really know how close you get to everyone until you are thousands of miles away and your only communication is a phone. Although I missed my friends, there’s no doubt that winter break was simply amazing.

I received my schedule for spring semester classes and I am very happy with my classes and professors. This semester will be tougher than last, but I know I can get through it. I have been swamped with homework this week and it doesn’t look like it will let up anytime soon, but I am ready for the challenge. This weekend the corps has a long (we can stay out overnight) because it is Martin Luther King Day on Monday, but I have a swimming and diving meet on Sunday so I will be hanging out at the Academy.

I hope everyone had a safe and happy holidays and good luck in this New Year. For all of the seniors, I want to say enjoy the rest of your senior year because it can be a lot of fun. Go to as many school functions as you can and cherish the moments with your friends because in just a few short months your lives will all change and the memories is what will keep you together. Good luck to everyone applying and if anyone has questions about the application process or anything at all send me an email! Sara.E.Cantrell@uscga.edu.

More about Sara.

Do Not Give Up

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Sara Cantrell Well today was our last day of classes! It almost feels unreal to think that I have successfully completed my first semester of college at the Academy. It is one of the best feelings I have ever felt. To think back, it was only six short months ago that I was getting on an airplane leaving every single piece of comfort and delving into a high speed and structured life. I am so grateful for friends, family, and professors who got me through this semester. It is the final push until winter leave! There are only four exams standing in the way of a two and a half week work-free break. I am so excited to go home and spend time with family, friends and most of all appreciate the little things that I took for granted before coming here. Examples? Eating normally, wearing my hair down, walking normally, looking around, driving a car, wearing civilian clothes, getting tan. Trust me the list goes on. Going home for Thanksgiving got me recharged for the last two weeks of school and finals.

The swimming and diving season has been going very well! It is so great to be on a sports team, going to practice every day is my escape from the pressure and stress of the Academy. This past weekend I broke the school record for three meter diving, which was an exciting experience for me and hopefully I can continue to get better and break more records!

As the semester closes I just want to say that no matter what, do not give up. There have been so many tough weeks and late nights, but I know that this is where I want to be and therefore I fight through it. I will never give up because I know why I came and what I want to be in the future. I remember around this time last year was when I received my acceptance letter and I made my OWN decision to come here over other schools. As you receive your letters make sure you are choosing something that YOU want to do and you can see yourself committing to no matter how hard it will get. Believe me while at the Academy you will go through your toughest days physically, mentally, or emotionally, and you have to be willing to stay committed. Happy holidays! Enjoy your break :)

More about Sara.

Getting Ready to Go Home

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Sara Cantrell The official countdown is up and running! Only 8 more days until Thanksgiving leave and I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am. As much fun as I am having here at the Academy, Thanksgiving is a much-needed week off from the everyday rigorous lifestyle here. My parents were unable to make it up for Parents’ Weekend in October so Thanksgiving will be the first time since June 27th that I will get to see my family. This week will be tough to get through with the anticipation of going home, but with two tests I need to stay focused and push through. This month has flown by with test, projects, and diving (I have a feeling most months here will fly by). I had my first diving meet this past weekend against NYU and Wheaton College and placed third on both one meter and three meter. The corps also got a “long” this weekend for Veterans Day so it was nice to sleep away from the Academy.

This first semester has been pretty challenging for me. It is hard to get into a routine because there is so much going on all the time and some things pop up sporadically. I try as best I can to manage my time and get things done early, but sometimes the plan doesn’t work. It is weird to think that my first semester of college is almost over (we have one week before Thanksgiving, one week after Thanksgiving, and one week of finals left). With the holidays coming up the morale throughout the corps will be brought up, which will make things even better around here. It has just started to get dark around 4:30, which is a change for me. I love the fall weather; it’s not too cold and the leaves are changing colors and falling.

Two weekends ago the corps had a formal room and wing, which is where the 4/c stay up pretty late and clean all common areas (heads, dayrooms, P-ways, ladder wells, gear heads, laundry rooms, etc.) along with the whole corps cleaning their individual rooms extensively. This all happens on a Friday night after sports practice, then Saturday morning the corps gets inspected by the regimental staff and graded on how well each company cleaned their common spaces and rooms. We found out last week that Hotel Company won and we were all so happy that our hard work paid off and we were the best company. November has been a great month for me and next month will be even better with Christmas break, but for now its stay focused and get work done.

More about Sara.

Your Purpose for Being Here

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Sara Cantrell Wow! What a crazy month it has been. Classes started on August 22 and I have honestly never been so stressed out in my life. For some reason I wasn’t expecting school to be so overwhelming, but when you have school and thousands of other things to do it gets stressful, I mean REALLY stressful. Last weekend was Columbus Day weekend and we got a long. A “long” means that cadets can leave the Academy on Friday after their last class (for me its 1540) and we don’t have to be back until 1800(if you’re a 4/c) Monday night. It is a great de-stressor! I went to Boston with a few friends and we had a lot of fun. Mainly we just walked around and shopped a little, but most of all it was nice to be out of Chase Hall and wearing civilian clothes. Yes, that was the first time I had put on civilian clothes since June 27th.

Even though the Academy life is overwhelming, we always find a way to laugh. Whether it’s laughing about memories from Swab Summer or something funny that happen during the day, it’s always good to laugh. Some advice that my Company Commander gave my company at the beginning of the year that I think I should share it with you, is that every day you must never forget the reasons you came and the purpose for being here. These four years will seem like a small portion of your life when you look back as an officer and you have to try everyday to enjoy the moments here. The things you do here and the people you meet will have an effect on the rest of your life. If those reasons and purpose escape you, it will be hard to stay at the Academy.

It is now midterms and I cannot believe my first semester of college is half way over. I remember thinking about just making it to the next meal during Swab Summer and now I am thinking about going home for Thanksgiving. It is crazy how fast time flies. The thing that keeps me happy and moving forward here are my friends. You would never think that a couple hundred people from different backgrounds and experiences can get thrown together and call each other family within a few weeks. It’s a great support system and keeps you motivated.

More about Sara.

New Year, New Semester

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Samantha Cardoza I have to say, coming back from winter break was definitely difficult. I missed my friends and my Alfa family a lot, but coming back to having to square, take out trash, do clocks, greet, etc. did not seem appealing at all. Another thing that I did not want to come back to was the weather. I left San Diego when it was 80 degrees outside and came back to having to march in 08 degree weather! Talk about your morning wakeup call!

Even though I was less than ecstatic to come back, it made me think about how fortunate I am to be at the Academy. I missed the family of people that go here, I missed not having to worry about my valuables, I even missed the teachers and the classes, and when my ride pulled into the firstie parking lot, I realized how much I really love this place. And only having to endure being a 4/c at the bottom of the totem pole for another semester seems doable now that I have already completed the first semester. Before I know it, I’ll be on Eagle, going to summer school, going back to San Diego, and then I will come back and be a 3/c, ready to mentor my own 4/c and be a role model for them. So, I will keep going, and keep striving to do better for this whole semester and, who knows, maybe even finish out 4/c year with a bang.

More about Samantha.

Christmas is Finally Here!!!

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Samantha Cardoza I can’t believe it’s finally here! Yesterday officially marked the last day of school, and now everyone is getting ready for finals to finish out the first semester strong. This semester, I have a final everyday for four days, and that is a decent schedule. I am so surprised by how fast this semester flew by! The upperclassmen are right, if you take it one week, day, hour, at a time then it goes by so much faster. I remember every week thinking to myself, “Okay, it’s Wednesday, tomorrow is Thursday. A test, two labs and then its Friday.” Thinking that all the time definitely got me through this semester, and the weeks just went by so fast.

I cannot wait to go home! Christmas is literally right around the corner, and the entire corps is preparing for it. When we walk around Chase Hall, it feels like Santa’s Workshop. So many rooms are decorated with lights, trees, wallpaper, blow up Santas, I can go on but it might take a whole page to fit everything in! It is definitely a morale booster, though, seeing all the cadets in such a great mood. And even though I’m excited to go back home, it’s also going to be hard leaving the family that I have formed here for three weeks. I doubt that I will miss the squaring and greeting, but I will miss all of my friends. Coming back is going to be difficult, but after resting up for a whole three weeks, I’ll be ready to come back to the Academy.

More about Samantha.

Getting Ready For Thanksgiving

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Samantha Cardoza As the last few days of November come up, the entire corps has become more than enthusiastic about the semester drawing to an end. Getting ready for our first leave as 4/c is very frustrating. A few weekends ago, we had our monthly Formal Room and Wing where we, the freshmen, stay up all night, and sometimes even into the next morning cleaning all of Chase Hall to be ready for inspection. And when I say everything in Chase, I mean everything: the bathrooms, the passageways, the weight room, the hallways, and our rooms as well. This last one was by far the best one that we have had all year, and as a result, we didn’t need to do another one before Thanksgiving, which was a lifesaver for us 4/c.

Even though I am not able to go home for Thanksgiving, I am still really excited for it. I get to stay with my sponsor family and get to stay out of Chase Hall for a little bit. I have tests and finals to look forward to when I get back, but that just means that winter leave is right around the corner! Being away from the Academy is great, but it also makes me realize how much I really love it there and how much I miss my friends. Maybe its because I’m not at home or something, but I have only been gone one day and I am already checking up on my friends to make sure that they made it home safely and are doing well. It’s still difficult for me to believe that we have gone through a whole five months of squaring, taking out the trash, and doing clocks. It seems like it was just a few weeks ago that we started the school year. As much as I am ready for this year to end, I know that I will miss it when it’s gone.

More about Samantha.

Midterms...What?

(Academics, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Samantha Cardoza Today I finally came to the realization that we 4/c have made it through half a semester already! When I first heard someone say, “Who’s ready for midterms?” I have to admit…I freaked out a little bit. My thought process brought me to believe that there was going to be a whole week of grueling tests and never ending studying. However, I came to find that I had already taken the tests that would be on my midterms and was now just anxiously waiting for my grades to come out. Whoever thought that waiting for your teachers to submit your grades would ever be so stressful? Yet here I was, constantly checking the system every five seconds to see if they were up yet. I was very happy to find that after hours upon hours of clicking and re-clicking the “refresh“ button, I was passing all of my classes.

When I made the decision to come here way back in 2006 when I was in 8th grade, I knew that this place would be challenging, not just physically demanding, but mentally and academically tough as well. I had been told that it would be over and over again. So, I worked in high school forcing myself to have good study habits and to manage my time well. Who knew that both would come in handy here? Not only am I taking seven classes with 20+ credits, but I also have to manage everything that goes with being a 4/c cadet. Not only do I have to have all of my military stuff in order, being inspection-ready every minute of every day, but I also have to memorize meals, have duty, do orderlies, etc. The scary part is that I know that this is probably one of the easier years I’ll have here. I’m definitely working at my full potential to keep everything up, but I’m also having fun doing it. Around here, you’ll see many 4/c and upper class complain about the Academy and everything that goes along with it, but I am having a blast! Yes, I do have to square my corners and meals and can’t look left or right, but I love this place too much to make it anything but a fantastic experience. It’s hard, but that’s the point, isn’t it?

More about Samantha.

Good Info About Finals...Just a Little Late

(Academics, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Alexis Chavarria-Aguilar The semester’s finish line is finally within sight! I would like to talk about finals briefly, you know, debunk a few myths about this last week before winter leave.

The first, and perhaps most common, myth about finals week is that cadets never sleep. This may be true for a small number of people, but the majority of us get more than enough shut-eye. With no classes or military obligations this week, I’ve had plenty of time to study and rest.

Myth number two revolves around the time everyone gets to go home. No, you’re not held here against your will until a certain date. Once you have completed all of your exams, as well as your last military obligation (LMO), you are free to go home. I know some upper class who have had the luxury of going home almost a full week before everyone else! I’m pretty sure it primarily depends on your exam schedule, and maybe a little luck.

Lastly, I would like to address the difficulty of our exams. Of course, finals are no walk in the park, but they are not the end of the world either. As long as you can balance your time, get enough to eat and sleep, you’ll be fine. The less energy you waste stressing, the better. Again, success is all in your state of mind. All you have to do is work hard and stay positive.

More about Alexis.

The Grindstone

(Academics, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Alexis Chavarria-Aguilar As the fall semester begins to wind down, cadets teem with anticipation for Thanksgiving leave. This kind of suspense can affect people in a variety of different ways. Most people, caught up in the excitement of making plans, just keep chugging along. However, a handful of cadets tend to get impatient, becoming tense and cranky. I don’t blame them, but getting caught up in that kind of cynicism is not productive. Cadets cannot allow a pessimistic attitude get in their way; doing so has the potential to create poor habits and decreases overall performance. Keeping a positive mindset and setting short-term, achievable goals is the key to success around this time of year.

For me, this first semester has been quite the experience, and I am glad to finally see it coming to a close. With the halfway point rapidly approaching, I do my best to keep my priorities balanced. Thanksgiving leave will be a well-deserved break, but we’re not done yet. After we come back there is another week of school and then finals. During winter leave, we will be able to relax at home without any schoolwork lingering over our heads. Until then, our noses stay to the grindstone.

More about Alexis.

Prioritizing

(Academics, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Alexis Chavarria-Aguilar I think it’s safe to say that these past four months have been unlike any other experience. Life at the Academy is a real challenge, but totally worth it. Just like Swab Summer, the days are long, but the weeks go by in a blur. Every day I find myself presented with some sort of challenge; nonetheless, I’m absolutely stoked to be here and hope that my journal entry offers a quality glimpse at what life is like as a fourth class.

One of my primary concerns thus far has been prioritizing the numerous obligations demanded by cadet life. Time is a commodity, and there never seems to be enough of it. While our normal college counterparts sip from the fountains of higher education, we cadets guzzle down challenges jetting from the fire hydrants of officership. It takes a lot of discipline to manage our duties and transcend the expectations established upon us. For me, getting the right amount of sleep is the difference between just that. As a result, I rely on my agenda book to help me balance my priorities, from academics, to military training, to athletics, and so on.

Although it seems that there is not enough down time, cadets manage to make the most of every experience. I enjoy tasks that don’t require a lot of critical thinking, such as cleaning the room or shining shoes. Crew practice is also my saving grace. There’s nothing like pulling a real hard piece on the erg to relieve the frustration of a bad day.

Again, words cannot describe how thrilled I am for this opportunity. Despite the difficulty of cadet life, this has been unparalleled experience.

More about Alexis.

100th Day, et al.

(Academics, Athletics, Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Peter Driscoll Since I last wrote, my life here at the Academy has been a hectic blur. I’ll tell you a little bit about each thing that I’ve done since I last wrote.

January 26-29: I went with the Model UN team to the McMUN conference, hosted by McGill University in Montreal, Canada. It was a lot of fun, especially since it was my first time ever leaving the United States!! Our eight competitors represented different countries and entities on various UN committees and crisis simulations; I represented Brazil on the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC). (Model UN is designed to simulate what the real UN is like, so that high school and/or college kids can learn about foreign affairs, diplomacy, and the like.) The funny thing about that committee is that, at the real UNHRC in Geneva, countries like North Korea, Iran, Syria, Uganda, or China are represented on the committee dealing with human rights. Some would say it is rather ironic… Anyway, we discussed Internet access (especially the debate over physical access and censorship) and homosexuality (during which, most of the Muslim and African nations denied the existence of homosexuality or the need to protect homosexuals). I won an award for my efforts, which was nice. Canada was amazing, even if it was so cold! The only hard part was making up the large amounts of schoolwork I missed.

February 4: We had a Mock Trial scrimmage at Holy Cross, as we prepare for Regionals next week. I’ve been working with a new witness, so it’s been a long haul. The three-hour practices on Tuesday and Thursday nights make balancing academics, crew, and extracurricular activities hard, but I think it’ll be worth it when we do well next weekend at Yale. Go Bears, Go Mock Trial!

February 5: Tonight (more like this afternoon) was 101st Night!! It was amazingly fun, although a lot of work. At 1400, we hit the company bulkhead for two hours of running all over Chase Hall, getting ITed—just like Swab Summer again. I really enjoyed it, even though the 2/c did use it as an opportunity to remind us that we need better brace and military courtesy. Like Swab Summer, some did really well in certain areas, and others in other areas. I was really good at indoc, but not so good at pushups… Now, having completed it, we have earned the privilege to switch roles with the 2/c for 100th Day. Tomorrow, from 0600 to 2000, we will be upper-class, and our cadre will be squaring and doing clocks, and everything else we do as lowly fourth-class. I am excited to see what’s coming up…

Crew has less than a month until we go to Florida for spring break training. It’s going to be awesome. I love being around those guys and seeing how much effort everyone is putting in, so that we can have a good season. We even got some more “novices.” I promise you, when we hit the water after break, we’ll be destroying other boats!

Now that we have less than 100 days until 2012 graduates and becomes ensigns, the focus has changed from being good 4/c to developing into what will be good 3/c. We have to qualify to stand duty as JCDOs (Junior Cadet Duty Officer) and learn about driving cadet vans—fun privileges reserved for upper-class. Most importantly, we need to prepare for our summer experiences in the operational fleet and on Eagle. Eagle is sailing along the Eastern Seaboard this summer, and I think that I’ll be on the phase sailing from Maryland to Canada. Hopefully for my other summer assignment, while many of my classmates ride the “USCGC Calculus 2,” I’ll be on a white-hull cutter in Alaska. Stand by for more word on that. Keep your questions coming. I’ve gotten some great emails (Peter.M.Driscoll@uscga.edu), and I love the distractions from my busy day that who are people interested in the Academy provide.

More about Peter.

Winter Wonderland?!

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Peter Driscoll I can’t believe it is snowing already. Everyone’s been telling me how CGA had four or five snow days last year, but it has been so warm this year that I didn’t believe any of those rumors. Now I do—of course, I’m impressed by the three inches we had and keep calling it a blizzard, at which my friends and my roommate laugh! Ignorant Northerners… (I woke up the other day and looked out the window and exclaimed, “It snowed two inches!” However, when my roommate looked, he kindly informed me that it was a quarter-inch at most…)

Classes are moving along. I have a nice schedule—this should be my easy semester academically, since I passed Calculus 2 validators and am now finished with my math requirements as a Government major! :) I enjoy Probability and Statistics, which is what I am taking now. All of my other classes are the standard 4/c classes. Of those, my favorite is definitely Fundamentals of Navigation; I love doing chart work and learning real salty, nautical things! For those of you who are starting to get acceptance letters, and you chose to spend a night here to learn what it’s like, go to a Nav lab—in my opinion, that’ll show you what this place is really about.

On a side note, this semester I am taking Honors Chemistry 2 with LT Jody Maisano. It’s an amazing class and we’re learning a lot. On top of the regular Chemistry stuff, LT Maisano is having us do a semester-long project on a topic of our choice to broaden our scientific horizons. For mine, I plan on researching U.S. arctic policy and why we need a new icebreaker. Hopefully, my “product” will be to get a USCG arctic expert—maybe from headquarters?—to come speak to the Corps about this issue. I’ll keep everyone updated.

And while classes got easier, military life around Chase Hall got harder. Our new guidons and the Regimental 1LT (First Lieutenant) are cracking down hard to make sure that the 4/c are still doing their jobs. These first two weeks, our new guidon has put us on company clocks twice—almost more than the entirety of last semester. Now we are on random clocks to make sure we all know our indoc. :( It’ll get better soon…after all, it’s only around 115 days until 2012 graduates, and we will definitely get “carry-on” before they leave! The next best thing on the horizon (at least from my perspective) is 101st Night/100th Day. Then, after going through a Swab Summer flashback the night before, the 2/c and the 4/c switch roles for the day. I cannot wait; it’ll be fun! Then, in March, the firsties will have Billet Night, when they find out what units they have been assigned to. Everyone is so excited. I want all of the firsties I know to get their best pick, but it is determined by class rank, so who knows what will happen.

Well, it’s been a great distraction writing this post, but I do have another forty pages to read for my literature class. As always, email me (Peter.M.Driscoll@uscga.edu) if you have any questions or comments! Over and out.

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What Sets Us Apart

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Peter Driscoll Hello to all my readers and a late Happy Holidays!

It might sound crazy, but it is nice to be back “home” in Chase Hall for the spring semester. I can’t wait to get started on another challenging academic semester, or work toward getting full carry-on, or beating other boats in crew!

Christmas break was a lot of fun. I enjoyed spending time with old friends in North Carolina and my family in Florida. After my last final, 1/c Katie Priesing and I raced to North Carolina in an exciting road trip adventure. I spent the first week with my friend Sasha Seymore, who goes to UNC-Chapel Hill. In fact, I spent a night in his dorm at UNC before going to a basketball game, and I am proud/ashamed to say that I ended up cleaning his dorm room for him! There are different standards between Chase Hall and civilian college. Catching up with old friends was fun, but more importantly, it helped me realize why I came here. I came here to be a part of something more than myself—to help others—and, in my opinion, that sense of purpose sets the 1,034 cadets here apart from our civilian peers.

Additionally, it was great to spend Christmas with my family. My little sister had brought lice home while I was in North Carolina, which was fortunate for me, but unfortunate for everyone else! When I got there, it was all my little siblings would talk about… Florida was amazingly warm: I don’t think it even got close to the temperatures here in New London! My family enjoyed showing me all the sights in Pensacola: the Naval Aviation Museum (the CG aircraft are buried in the annex, of course!), NAS Pensacola, downtown, and the beaches. My favorite part of the break was the hours of sleep I got; I’ve stockpiled it away for this semester. Our new house was interesting, to say the least. It was sad to leave Pensacola, just when I had finally settled in and become used to living as a “normal” person.

Flying in uniform was an adventure, but the best/worst part was getting off the plane in Boston to temperatures of “10 above” (zero degrees Fahrenheit). I definitely felt that pit in my stomach when I saw the Academy again, but it’s worth it to be back with friends. Here’s to the start of a new semester! If you ever have questions, don’t hesitate to email me: Peter.M.Driscoll@uscga.edu.

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Preparing for Finals and Next Semester

(Academics, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Peter Driscoll It’s down to the wire as the last few days of the fall semester arrive. Today is the last day of classes, and I thought I’d share it with you all so that we can start fresh next semester.

Classes are done. For the past few days, we have been filling out course evaluations and doing all the last-minute testing that needs to be done. When you get here, and classes are rough, don’t think that you don’t have a say in it. Teachers look forward to getting your feedback so they can make classes better for other students. As for the last-minute testing and paper writing and such, you just adapt and endure. My teachers in high school always thought that it’d be perfectly fine to schedule tests and due dates right up to the final exam. (In fact, my AP Chemistry teacher gave us a test on organic chemistry the day before we took the AP exam!) Now multiply that by 100, and you have what results here—trying to balance military obligations, athletics, and academics can be tough, but not impossible.

Last night was the holiday dinner. We all got carry-on to celebrate the holidays by discovering who our command staff will be for the Spring 2012 semester. I think we did really well. The Hotel CC is an amazing person with high expectations, and she rows crew. Our new XO seems like a good guy, and I look forward to next semester with our guidon, who is returning from an exchange semester at West Point. She’ll be hard but fair, which I think is what we need to make sure that we don’t lose sight of the fact that we are still fourth class.

Having rambled for half a page now, I’ll sign off. Happy Holidays to everyone, and good luck to the early action applicants who should be getting decisions around late December or early January. (I got mine in time for Christmas, then wrapped it up and put it under the tree :) ) See you all next semester; if you have any questions, feel free to email me at Peter.M.Driscoll@uscga.edu.

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Getting Run Over by a Truck

(Academics, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Peter Driscoll As gruesome as the title is, I guess it’s rather appropriate for the last few weeks of the semester. I was joking with a classmate today in Calculus 2 about how I always leave that class feeling like I’ve been run over by a truck, and he told me that he always feels like the truck runs him over, then backs up to take another stab at him! Sitting down to write this quick entry, all my classes feel like this…

We have so much to do, and so little time. My biggest projects are the bridge project in SED (an introductory engineering class) and my research paper. Building a bridge out of popsicle sticks is a lot harder than it looks, especially when you have to analyze the forces acting upon it, too. But I can’t wait to test all our bridges on Monday. In English, I have another six pages to write about how Muslim-Americans were unjustly discriminated against after 9/11/2001. After these two projects and my history essay are done, it’ll be Thanksgiving—the light at the end of the tunnel!

I cannot wait to leave the Academy and see my family for the first time since R-Day. I’ve changed so much; I wonder how much they all have changed. My sister, Katee, is applying to colleges, and everyone is adjusting to life in Florida. Hopefully Thanksgiving will be a nice balance of love and squabbling…but whatever happens, it’ll be great!

(As a nice finish, 2016: hurry and get your applications in! The first decisions will be hitting mailboxes sometime around Christmas! Good luck!)

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Almost Thanksgiving!

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Peter Driscoll I can hardly believe that Thanksgiving leave is just around the corner. I have two shortened weeks and one full week standing between me and seeing my family for the first time since Mystic. (For those of you who don’t know, Mystic is a day in the middle of the summer when the swabs get their class flag on a field trip over at Mystic Seaport. After the ceremony, we get a couple hours of liberty—a blissful release from the stress of Swab Summer!) I cannot wait.

My academic schedule is quickly building up. I only have about five exams, two projects, and several packets until finals the second week of December. In fact, my partner and I are going to start building our truss for SED tonight, and I have an outline for my research paper due tomorrow! I still cannot believe that time has flown so quickly and that the semester is almost over. It seemed impossible in August, but you really do learn that you can do anything here.

I don’t know if I mentioned this in my last post, but crew has entered the winter season. We came off the water in the middle of October, and are now focusing on conditioning and strength training for the spring (sprint) season. Our spring break training trip, and getting back onto the Thames River, cannot come soon enough—I miss coxing. I’m really glad that I did crew this year; I learned so much about my rowers and myself. Honestly, being thrown in the boat the second week of practice and told that it was my responsibility was daunting. As if that wasn’t enough, I had eight rowers who expected me to know what to do all the time. Great preparation for the fleet as a junior officer! We did well in our one race, and plan on tearing it up in the spring.

I’ve grown by leaps and bounds in one semester here at CGA. I’ve become more confident and self-assured than I was when I timidly reported on R-Day. The military aspect of life here in Chase Hall has definitely helped in that regard. We had our last formal room and wing inspection of the semester on Saturday, and I was lead 4/c for that evolution. (The 4/c have to rigorously clean the company area and various areas of Chase Hall for these inspections.) I spent the night before cleaning my common space, running around answering questions, supervising the cleaning, and inspecting areas to ensure that they met standards. I did not get to bed until 0145 that night, and woke up at 0545 to finish. But the loss of sleep and increased stress was worth it—we beat Echo by .01 point to win the inspection!

Academics, athletics, and military obligations have all helped to develop a leader of character, like the Academy is supposed to do. I have learned great leadership lessons, like the importance of being confident for the eight rowers depending on you to know what to do, or the necessity of putting 110% effort into organizing and cleaning for inspection. Hopefully, I will do even better next semester. But first, turkey!

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R-Day 2011

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Peter Driscoll Obviously, I cannot tell you everything that we did over Swab Summer, because it’s best to discover it for yourself. I spent hours poring over everything I could find before I came to the Academy for R-Day, but it was wasted time. There is no way words on a page can accurately describe the summer experience you choose to undergo. I went to AIM, I came to the Academy for an academic visit, I was stubborn—what could go wrong? I thought I knew everything I needed to know…

Sadly, I did not. R-Day was one of the roughest days of the summer. The moment you step off the bus, everything you do is wrong. You’re welcomed by your cadre and then rushed upstairs to change out of your unauthorized civilian clothes. I vividly remember the cadre pacing the hallway, with all of us lined up along the wall, yelling and screaming at us for simple things like not zipping a bag shut or not labeling everything. After that, you’re rushed all over the campus to get issued supplies…

There is never a moment to relax or relieve the stress during R-Day. The hardest time of that day, for me at least, was the three hours between a miserable lunch and the Oath of Office ceremony on the parade field. That was the only time I wanted to quit all summer, because I was miserable. The barbers shaved my head; I signed away my life to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” By the time I met my family after the Oath of Office, I was crying. I was scared, nervous, weak. It was the hardest decision of my life to leave everything I knew and loved—my comfort zone—to form back up in Hotel Company.

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The Worst Sound: Reveille

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Peter Driscoll Anyone who says that Swab Summer is easy is certifiable. It is designed to weed out those unsuited for life at the Academy, and later on, in the fleet.

Who wouldn’t want to wake up at 0530 in the morning? Every morning, we’d be woken up by the worst sound: reveille. After rushing out to the bulkhead, we’d work out for an hour, run back, shower, eat breakfast, and begin the day. When I write “work out,” I mean stressfully test how long you can hold the pushup position before getting punished for giving up. When I write “shower,” I mean sprinting to the bathroom, rinsing off with soap in less than three minutes, drying off, and getting out in less than six minutes—36 people, that is. Everything you do, you do as a team; you get a lot of time to practice, because every waking minute is occupied somehow. You get the whole experience—military trainings, math classes, athletics and team-building courses, etc. Everything makes you a better person.

I still follow the habits I developed over the summer. I don’t take long showers anymore, I prioritize better, and I eat quickly and don’t spill food on my uniforms. I keep my room much cleaner than I would have done if I went to UNC. But whatever people tell you about Swab Summer, it prepares for you the school year in the only way possible. There are times when I wish I was still a Swab, because Swab Summer is easy compared to the academic year. (My cadre told us this constantly, but I never believed them until now…my mistake!)

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Homecoming Weekend 2011

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Peter Driscoll Hey everyone! I’ve settled into the pattern of the school year finally. I wake up at 0430 now for crew and get to bed around 2130, and every second of my day in between is occupied.

Last weekend was Homecoming weekend. It was great to see so many alumni, especially the Class of 1961. The weekend was packed with tons of events. I ate lunch Friday at the O-Club with an alumnus from 1947 who had horror stories about 4/c year. Thank goodness I didn’t go to CGA then! Saturday was the big football game. Our 0-2 team pulled out a win: 61-30. It was amazing. Everyone—the alumni, the cadets, the staff, Admirals Stosz, Papp, and Allen—were going nuts over the football game. Even better, my class hid all six links of the chain successfully for a week and got it to the 50-yard line in time to get modified carry-on for a week. I love not having to square meals!

The best part of the weekend was the fact that one of my friends who was planning on quitting decided to stay. Her paperwork was already processed, and she came within an inch of being voluntarily dismissed. But she’s still here! Even better, Admiral Papp gave her his challenge coin during a private conversation. Getting the Commandant’s challenge coin is an amazing experience; I’m jealous.

Well, now it’s back to the grind of the academic year—I’ve got lots of homework! Until next time…

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Back To School After Break

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Lindsay Duplessis After three weeks of winter leave, it was a bit difficult to drive back to the Academy. Although I missed my friends here, I really enjoyed spending time with my family and friends from home, going to the movies, watching TV whenever, and being lazy. Basically I spent my time on break doing the opposite than that of Academy life. Back to school, memorizing meals, and working out…which at home mainly consisted of getting up to change the laundry or let my dog outside. One might notice that I was not completely prepared for the physical fitness examination the day after we got back, but thankfully I passed!

We’ve all started classes again this week, as well as preparing for Boards which is basically a test all 4/c cadets must pass for the class to get carry-on. The information on the exam can range anywhere from identifying flags to summarizing the history of the Coast Guard itself. We have a month to study, and a lot of memorizing to do.

We also recently began to learn about our 3/c summer assignments. This summer, I’ll go on Eagle and spend about five weeks at a station or on a cutter. I’m not quite sure where I want to go, but it’s exciting to know that we’re finally getting the chance to go out and experience what the Coast Guard actually does outside of the Academy.

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Home for the Holidays

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Lindsay Duplessis After a relaxing but short Thanksgiving break at home, we’ve all jumped into the final stretch. Christmas leave is two weeks after Thanksgiving, and the days are flying by. I had my last day of classes on Wednesday, which was awesome, but it also still feels like I just got here a few weeks ago. Christmas leave also unfortunately means finals are coming up this week and next week. Since it’s my freshman year, I have four finals to take (Chemistry, Calculus, Statics and Engineering Design, and Macroeconomics) as well as my last few papers for English, projects for Fitness and Wellness I, and BEARS (mandatory college prep course). It’s a lot to cover, but the teachers give optional study sessions and help anyone who wants to prepare for the final.

It was a little weird going home for Thanksgiving. You definitely develop different habits, worries and language at the Academy than what you would at home. For instance, you get in trouble if your room (meaning your or your roommate’s side) is messy. Since I probably have the messiest room outside of the Academy, I’m a little worried about my transition back to cadet life after break. We also have the PFE (physical fitness exam) after break, so my love of Christmas cookies could potentially be a problem. Hopefully playing Just Dance 3 with my little sister will keep me in shape…

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The Swing of Things

(Academics, Athletics, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Lindsay Duplessis The fall athletics season is officially over, and winter is starting to kick in here at the Academy. For me, this means the bittersweet end of soccer and the beginning of a more academically focused period. Soccer took up the majority of my time in the last two months, however it was more than worth it. I made great friends and really enjoyed getting to know the upperclassmen on the team who provide nice tips and advice on how to survive as a 4/c cadet. It’s also nice to know that there are people looking out for you. Playing soccer also kept me in shape after swab summer and eased me into staying fit for the rest of the school year.

I finally feel like things are starting to feel routine and normal here. I always have homework and projects to finish, which makes the weeks fly by. I honestly did not believe all of the officers who told us that we’d go from Swab Summer, to the fall semester, to finals in the blink of an eye. It goes by fast, and you really just have to try to take advantage of everything the Academy offers while you can!

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A New World

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Lindsay Duplessis To say civilian life and life here at the Academy are two different worlds is an understatement. Sometimes it’s weird to think about what I would be doing if I weren’t here. I used to start my day around 10:00 a.m., but here it’s a nice 6:00 a.m. wake-up call. Although it’s tough to get up (especially since we get up in the dark now that it’s close to winter), it’s nice to go at my own pace. Swab Summer was one giant rush to get things done, and it was definitely a relief to be able to go my own speed.

Transitioning from Swab Summer, where someone tells you what to do, how to do it, and how much time you have to do it, to having your own choices to make was not that difficult for me. A lot of my classmates say they missed Swab Summer because swabs don’t think for themselves. However, I like planning my day and knowing what’s ahead. Although the academics seemed overwhelming at first, everyone gradually got into a rhythm. Playing a sport or joining clubs here makes time go by a lot faster as well. My soccer teammates are awesome and offer help in whatever I might need whether it’s classes or advice on how to square meals (soup season just began…). Sports take up a lot of time, but the positives of being on a team definitely outweigh the negatives.

Time management is the hardest thing to deal with here, but planning ahead and sticking to that plan makes the difference.

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Back to the Academy

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Nicole Garrett I can't believe it’s already been seven months since I reported in. These months have been the longest fast months of my entire life. This makes no sense, but once you come here you will understand. I have to say, though, that I was not ready for break to be over. I got home, it felt like I was there forever, but on the last day it was like I had just gotten there. The only differences when I got back were that I was used to a different time zone and well rested.

Winter leave was my first time going home since R-Day. It was weird being in the civilian world for so long. One funny thing I noticed was that once you leave Chase, you realize what a sterile environment you are in. Everything outside of Chase seems super dirty, and then when you return you feel like Chase is so sterile. It’s really weird. Anyway, over break I did a lot of sleeping, hiking, snowboarding and enjoying friends/family time. Things definitely felt different though.

Don’t get me wrong, going home was exciting, but hanging out with some of my old friends wasn’t the same. It goes to show how much this place puts your past relationships into perspective. Anyone that is a threat to you staying here you suddenly have no desire to be around. I guess this is just part of growing up and moving on. Either way I only have 3-4 more months till I’m a 3/c!

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Christmas Leave Here I Come

(Academics, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Nicole Garrett There is only a week between finals and me. While I know it has been about 6 months since I was last home, it honestly doesn’t feel that long. I am really excited to go home and see my family. However, I’m not to leave yet!

Since it is the end of the semester I’m sure some of you are curious about what the academics are like at the Academy. Well, in all honesty, I did Running Start my senior year of high school and then a year of college after I graduated high school before coming here. I honestly feel that going to college beforehand and taking college level chemistry, math, and physics classes has helped me a lot. However, I also believe that the key behind all the time management you hear about is getting into a routine. If you figure out your routine and stick to it you will be set. Also…. asking for help immediately when you don’t understand something is crucial.

Another thing I feel has helped me out is that I have experienced living on my own and the responsibilities and freedoms of it. For example, I was up doing homework late and all I could think about was sleeping, but wouldn’t lie down till my homework was done. Someone said to me “You’re in college you can do whatever you want. Go to sleep.” My only response was “I’ve been doing whatever I want for years…what I really want is to do well here.” I believe I mentioned this earlier, but I want to be a pilot. So on the late nights when you want to say “Forget it!” and go to bed… having something that your fighting for is the best motivation in the world to stay up.

This may be a little early but… MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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Swabbies

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Nicole Garrett For all of you out there that are prospective cadets, I’m sure you have tons of questions. I know I did when I was applying. The application process is fairly straightforward, but Swab Summer was a huge unknown for me coming to the Academy. I had no prior military experience, so I literally came in only expecting what I had heard about.

This summer was a lot of the expected yelling and fitness stuff, however, Swab summer was slightly different then I had expected. While the timed objectives and incentive training (IT) was not favored amongst the swabs at first, almost everything we were made to do had some kind of humor behind it. At first the humor was more masked behind the yelling, but then as time went along we adjusted and found reasons to laugh at the end of the night. For example, the first week, cadre #1 was after me. Every 30 seconds you would hear them scream, “SWAB GARRETT!” After a few days they relaxed a little. So of course I thought to myself, “ Yes! I’m doing better!” Then they noticed a hair tie around my wrist and told me to sound off that I was a pretty pretty princess each time I squared…. At the time it wasn’t funny. Looking back I just laugh at how unfortunate the situation was.

One of my favorite parts of the summer was the survival at sea class. In this class, we learned to use our ODUs to float and got to try out different survival equipment. I loved it. Especially toward the end when we got to play with the life raft. The best part was when we were blindfolded before jumping into the pool off the diving board in the pitch dark. Once we hit the water we had to swim and try to find the raft with our cadre moving it and spraying us with hoses. Once at the raft, we had to establish that everyone was accounted for (still unable to see) before the evolution was over. Everyone thought it was a blast. Other than that, my second favorite thing was sea trials, however, what happens then is something you will have to discover for yourself : ).

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If It Was Easy, Everyone Would Do It

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Victoria Gurtler The past four months at the Academy have undeniably been the most challenging, stressful, demanding, and exhilarating months of my life. I have pushed myself beyond limits and exceeded expectations that I literally never thought imaginable. These four months have been about proving myself to my shipmates, cadre, upperclassmen, and professors. But the most important individual I have proved myself to was Victoria. This time last year, I was in the Miss Wisconsin Rapids Area pageant and singing in the Wisconsin High School State Honors Choir. My life has done a complete 360, and I have to say I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Swab Summer was a once in a lifetime experience. Very few ever really get the opportunity to be indoctrinated into the military and in that way. To me, Swab Summer is still a blur. I can vaguely remember the challenging IT (intensive training) sessions, much less the terror of Reporting-In Day. What resonates most strongly in my memory are the fun times – yes believe it or not, you will have fun during Swab Summer, but you have to earn it. The main objective of Swab Summer is to “break” you as a civilian and rebuild you as military personnel. Trust me, you will fail at times, but that is why you have shipmates to catch you when you fall. I would have not made it through this summer or to midterms without the support of my peers. That is one of the great aspects of the Academy. Everyone wants everyone to succeed.

I have been keeping very busy since the start of the school year. Academics take up most of my time. But my classmates, professors, and upperclassmen are always willing to help with studying. Basketball started up a couple weeks ago. We had a scrimmage last weekend and won by about twenty points – a strong start to the season. My coach, Captain Gaines, is very supportive and is always pushing us to exceed expectations. Likewise, my teammates are a lot of fun to be around and work with.

Musically, I have been singing more here then I ever did in high school. I am in the Glee Club, Catholic Choir, and in the all-female choral group called “Fairwinds.” I have already sang at the U.S. Coast Guard Foundation Dinner in NYC, Arlington National Cemetery, Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Dinner and Ball in honor of Admiral Robert Papp Jr. in NYC (where I sang solo the National Anthem), and at a Connecticut Sun WNBA game. This weekend a 2/c and I are singing the National Anthem for the November 6th Patriots vs. the NY Giants NFL game. Even though I am a die-hard Green Bay Packer fan, I am so excited about this opportunity! There should only be about 68,000+ fans there – no pressure, right?!

I really cannot believe everything I have experienced and accomplished thus far at the Academy. I worked very hard during high school and am working four times as hard here. I know that all of my efforts will be worth it. After all, if it was easy then everyone would do it.

Till next time,
4/c Victoria Gurtler

More about Victoria.

A Taste of Failure

(Academics, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Adam Hoburg Well I’ve made it past midterms of my first semester here at the Academy and that in itself feels like a significant accomplishment. The first half of my semester was full of many challenges and many opportunities to grow and improve myself. But I don’t take a single one of those lessons for granted because I strongly believe that learning those kinds of things are one of the most valuable experiences of the Academy. One of the most significant of these lessons came to me this semester when I received my first “F” on a Calc 2 exam. Receiving that grade was the most disappointing and disheartening experiences I’ve had here. But I’ve quickly learned that it’s what you do after you receive a grade like that that really matters. It’s the process of getting back up after a failure and learning from your mistakes and what you can do to improve, that really defines you as a student.

I know for myself it has been about taking the results from that test and realizing how I need to adjust my study habits to do better next time, instead of dwelling on the unsatisfactory grade. It has also made me recognize how important it is to establish a relationship with your professors. When you go to your professors for help and they begin to get to know you and understand your strengths and specific areas that you need help, they more than able and willing to mentor and help you improve. All of the instructors here really care about the students and I have found that they are always making a constant effort to make themselves available to the students for extra help. But the most important thing is that you show that you care and that you make an effort to meet with your teachers and do whatever you can to improve yourself. If you demonstrate that you are willing to put forth the effort, then your professors are going to be willing to put forth the extra effort to help you.

This place challenges me every day and I absolutely love it. This is my first blog entry and throughout the years I hope I get a chance to share some insightful and authentic experiences as a cadet. I could not see myself at any other school, but I’ll be honest when I say it is not an easy place. But it’s a place where I can get up every morning knowing that I’m working to prepare to be a leader in an organization with a mission much bigger than myself, and that’s something you can’t find anywhere else.

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Relax and Laugh a Little

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Zachary Kearney The image reflected from the glass was foreign, unfamiliar, almost extraterrestrial. You know the classic alien picture of the small green figure with a big bald head? Yeah, that’s what the image behind the glass looked like, minus the green part. If you looked closer at the image, you might notice that the palms of the man in the mirror were sweating profusely, and the knees may or may not have been shaking a tad. But surprisingly, even in his nervous state, the man in the mirror was laughing.

Have you ever been in a situation where you are just waiting for something to happen? Perhaps you are about to get interviewed for that college you just have to get into, or you are about to give the dreaded research presentation to Mrs. Grouch, who happens to always wake up on the wrong side of the bed every single morning. You are just waiting and waiting and waiting; all you want to do is get whatever you have to do over with, but because you are waiting so long, you are just getting more nervous. Well gals and guys, that was how I felt as R-Day approached.

I knew what was coming as I arrived at the Navy Lodge the night before. I knew what was coming once I walked through those gates; I knew who was waiting for me. I’m sure most of you have watched the R-Day videos on YouTube, I know I did a hundred times before I arrived. If you look at one of them closely, you will actually see Zachary Kearney before he lost his wavy black locks. I’m sure many of you are imagining yourselves on that bus on that fateful day this upcoming June, wondering what your thoughts may be before that gigantic cadre bursts through the doors and yells at you to get off “his bus”. How will you react the first time you are singled out by Mrs. So-and-So because you accidently called her a Sir, or how will you feel when you have to refer to yourself as Swab *insert your name here? Don’t worry if you can’t keep your eyes in the boat very well (looking straight ahead), because I couldn’t very well (they might give you a gigantic box with an eye slit to look through to “correct” this problem, so don’t be alarmed if this happens to you).

So even though you know what is waiting for you a few short months away (and trust me, those months will fly so make sure you have as much clean fun as you can while you are still in high school), don’t get too worked up about it. Sure it’s natural to get nervous and to wonder what the summer will entail for you. I admit, it’s a ton of yelling that first day; you will get singled out, your back will kill from standing at attention for so long, and you will probably feel a little homesick. But keep this in mind, that first day is the hardest day. I remember how by lunch, when I was able to say goodbye to my parents and brother, those first few hours had felt like a week. But once that day is over, you can tell yourself, “I just finished the hardest day of the entire summer.” You will get into the routine, and eventually, your summer will be over. Not to mention, you will become very close to your fellow shipmates and discover what the word ‘camaraderie’ really means.

So guys, when you are staring at yourself in the mirror after you have lost your nice flow to the razors, laugh a little. We cadets have all gone through it and you will too if you want too. Girls, I know you won’t have to go through the notorious haircut, but when your hair is completely covered in gel to keep it up, remember to laugh a little as well. You all may look ridiculous, and you all will smell worse, but think of what lies at the end of the passageway. Just try to keep your eyes in the boat when you trek through it.

More about Zachary.

Sleep or Study?

(Academics, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Zachary Kearney I look at my watch as I crawl into bed after a nice cram session before my first Chemistry test. 0130. Oh boy, tomorrow is going to be rough. Yes, that day was indeed rough.

I look at my watch as I plop onto my bed after a nice cram session before my second Calculus test. 0100. Oh boy, tomorrow is going to be rough. Yes, that day was also indeed rough.

I look at my watch before the big Macro Test. 0030. I look at my watch before that one quiz. 0000. I look at my watch before the important speech. 2345. I look at my watch before that one day. 2330. And that other day. 2315 That other test. 2300.

Each day, I felt a little more rested. Each day, was a little better. Each day was another day of getting used to the routine. Sure, I would be lying if I didn’t say that I had the occasional late night after the first few weeks, but after those few weeks, I did get more sleep. Not as much as I want of course, but enough to function at least a little during the day. Those days became weeks. Those weeks became months. Some of those tests were better than others. Only a handful of them are refrigerator worthy, but at least I learned that more sleep equals less red slashes through my answers. For some reason less red slashes keeps the teachers happy, which keeps me happy, too.

I look at my watch as I wake from my deep slumber. 10:45 a.m. Oh how I love winter break. I can’t believe I have made it through my first semester at the Academy. Winter break has been very kind to me; sleep has been the number one priority followed closely by eating. Ok, I know I’ve been lazy this holiday, but give me a break, taking 20 credits in one semester is strenuous on the body. I’m just rejuvenating for next semester. And I’ve been running and working out most every day this break too, so there.

It’s nice being home, visiting friends and family, and enjoying myself. I got to visit my grandparents and all my relatives this break, which is great since I haven’t seen many of them since before R-Day. Honestly, the support I receive from all of them, as well as my parents and friends are what really keeps me going, and I am thankful for that. Looking back on these past 6 months, from R-Day to my first test, and from my first test to my last final, I realize how much I’ve gone through. I’ve grown a lot these past few months and I’m still reaching for new heights. Bring it on second semester. But for now, I’m going to enjoy my last few days of break.

I look at my watch now. 11:26 p.m. I think I’ll stay up for a few hours. Tomorrow is going to be a great day. I don’t plan to get up until past 10 a.m. Yes 10 a.m., not 1000. I’m still on break.

More about Zachary.

How Time Flies

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Zachary Kearney At the moment I’m sitting on a train, counting down the hours until I arrive back to the Academy. This trip was the first time I had ever been on a train and probably not my last. From inside the train, it appears I am going pretty slow; I can see the landmarks all around me and can count all of the houses I pass. We are constantly stopping at different train stations too, prolonging my journey back to the Academy. But if I stepped off the train, and looked at it as it passed, it would appear to be going mighty fast. It is kind of like the concept of time here at the Academy. These past five months have seemed extremely slow at times. Sometimes I’m sitting in 1st period class Monday morning and I can feel my eyelids becoming heavier and heavier and all I can think of is how in the world am I going to make it through this week. But Friday always seems to just sneak up on me, and I feel like the week flew by again. As everyone says around here, “the days are long, but the weeks are short”.

I know that it’s going to be hard going back to the Academy tonight, especially since Thanksgiving break was amazing and was the first time in five months that I had been back home. But at the same time, I know this week will fly by, and the week after, and soon enough, it will be winter break. And I also know that once I get back and get into the daily routine again, it isn’t so bad. Sure, there are late nights and very early mornings when all I want to do is crawl in bed and sleep, and sometimes I wish I was able to go out any night like my friends back home. But I know that even though it may be stressful at the present, the rewards are going to be far and wide. I can’t wait to go to a duty station this summer and experience the Coast Guard firsthand while also exploring different ports of the country. These next few years I’m going to be given opportunities that you would think were only possible in a story from a book. It may seem that these awesome experiences are so far away, but as I finish writing this, my train ride is closer to being over than when I started this journal entry and I’m almost back to the Academy. Time still flies, even when you think it has stood still.

More about Zachary.

My Journey

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2015) Permanent link
 Zachary Kearney Three and half months ago, I began my journey here at the Academy. It’s crazy to think that only a few months ago I still had my ’97 black Honda Civic, I lived in a room that consisted of clothes, school work, boxes, and more clothes scattered everywhere, and I still had my long locks of brown hair. Now, these three and a half months later, I am carless, my room is always inspection-ready with a sparkling buffed deck, and I get a haircut three times a month.

The United States Coast Guard Academy has truly been the definition of “change” for me. I’m not going to lie, it has definitely been a challenging few months. Swab Summer was pretty difficult, and the school year has also proved to be just as hard. I have to stay on top of my academics, as well as memorize indoc, make sure my room and uniform are perfect, and participate in a varsity sport. The days are constantly busy, but as I’ve heard a million times here “The days are long, but the weeks go by fast.” That statement is definitely true; even though every day is tough, once Friday comes along I always wonder how it came so fast. The friends I’ve made here have been extremely supportive and are very helpful.

Have a great month of October and never hesitate to email me at Zachary.D.Kearney@uscga.edu.

More about Zachary.

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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