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cadet blogs

Chugging Along

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
  Alexis Chavarria-Aguilar For cadets, winter leave is the epitome of awesome. Aside from our three-week break in the summer, this is the only time you can go home without a single thing to worry about. During winter leave, there are no upcoming finals to worry about, nor any impending homework assigned by unsympathetic instructors. It is the best time to just relax and practically do anything you want. After spending an entire semester upholding our fourth class duties, I embraced my break whole-heartedly. My favorite part of going home was seeing my parents’ faces light up at the airport. Our dogs were a riot too, and even my cat took the time to acknowledge my existence upon my arrival. However, the grandeur of winter leave had to come to an end sometime. Although it was rough leaving home again, coming back to my Coast Guard family was exhilarating.

Our first few weeks of school have not been easy. Just like last semester, I’ve struggled to get my priorities in line. Once again, though, it’s just all about balancing your responsibilities. For me, this includes finding stability between academics, spring crew, and 4/c boards. In case you didn’t know, 4/c boards are an indoctrination exam that we have to pass in order to earn carry-on at the end of the semester. We are asked an array of questions; basically anything that pertains to the Coast Guard (information found in our running light). I will admit that it has been fairly stressful, but I’m keeping my chin up and chugging along. After all, the “dark ages” are just around the corner; better to be semper paratus than SOL.

More about Alexis.

Taking on a Different Role

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
  Brianna Townsend Second semester if flying by, which I could not be any happier about because it means that I will be that much closer to taking my first leadership position at the Academy as cadre. Taking a new position in the corps is always frightening at first, but with the right training and teachers you can take on any role. I think that what has prepared me the most right now is my own cadre that I had when I was a swab. They taught me the right way to work as a team and be a leader, even under extreme stress. I am very thankful for those people in my life because they made me a better person and I definitely would not have been able to make it this far without them.

In the nearer future lacrosse season is starting, and I could not be any more excited about it. This year is looking very good for the team with the majority of the team returning from last year and a lot of new 4/c with an immense amount of talent. However, due to the amount of 1/c that graduated last year it is looking like I may have to take a new position on the field, but with the help of my coach and other players, I should be able to adapt and succeed in this new spot. Hopefully the weather will remain as it has been so we can enjoy the springtime inside rather than playing outdoors, but either way I am just glad to play.

More about Brianna.

It Blows My Mind

(Athletics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
  Sara Cantrell Well I can’t believe I’m already writing my February post! Only a couple more months of my 4/c year and then I will be off to my summer assignment. It blows my mind how fast this year has gone by. Last Sunday was 101st night and the tradition is that the 4/c endure two hours of Swab Summer again. We all formed up on the bulkhead at 1400 and “the games began.” It went by pretty fast which was good, but it definitely showed me how far I have come since June 27th when I reported in.

We have all had our first round of tests and they weren’t too bad. This semester has definitely been easier for me, not because of the classes (they are harder than last semester) but because I am settled into the lifestyle and have effectively mastered time management skills. As the year winds down, more and more extra stuff is pilling up. To get ready for 3/c year we have to complete a packet to show that we are qualified to take on the duty of JCDO. We also have to complete a packet for our boards and begin to study every night. It sounds overwhelming, but I’m taking it day by day and doing little pieces at a time.

This weekend is the first weekend that I haven’t had a swimming and diving meet, which is very nice. Since I have the time to take a break from homework and get out of the Academy I am going to go to my sponsor families’ house to hang out. Over the summer you will sign up for sponsor families (if you want one)…let me just say, I 100% recommend getting one. Sponsor families are great in so many ways, you have a house to go to if you want to relax on the weekend, most bake you treats and leave them in the watch office for you, and its nice to have that outlet outside of the Academy. Next weekend is NEWMAC championships at MIT and I am so excited to go! The swimming and diving team here is great and we will have a lot of fun. I am hoping to make it to finals on both boards, but we will see what happens.

Spring Break is a few weeks away and I cannot express how excited I am. I am bringing three friends home and we will be living at the beach (though not literally). My brother also has the same Spring Break and is bringing two friends home, so my parents will have a full house. It’s fun to be able to show your friends where you come from and what you use to do. Even though you are so close to everyone here it is hard to think about how they use to be before Swab Summer because you only see them in a uniform and there are not many options for things to do on the weekend. It will be fun, but I need to stay focused for these next three weeks and get through test and homework. Hope everyone is getting through second semester! As always if you have questions as the summer is quickly approaching feel free to email me! Sara.E.Cantrell@uscga.edu.

More about Sara.

Spring Semester, Sledding, and Boards

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
  Lindsay Duplessis So it’s February, and it’s snowed once. ONCE. Growing up in New England, you either really like the snow or you hate it, and personally I love it. The Academy is built on a massive hill, so when it snows there’s some prime sledding locations. However, you have to be careful because a few of my shipmates (as well as in previous years) actually received some intense sledding injuries. They are all completely fine now other than some nasty bruises, but the accident itself was not pretty.

In other news, all of the 4/c cadets are starting to study for Boards and a few of our indoc tests. On Monday we’ll all be taking a test on nautical flags, definitions, and rates/ranks of the various branches of the military. Although this is just another added stress to life here at the Academy, it’s satisfying to know that we will actually be using this kind of information in the future. More importantly, passing these tests will permit 4/c to get certain privileges leading to full carry-on! Everyone has to pass Boards before this can happen, so most people have been studying hard (myself included). You do not want to be the one holding everyone back from getting carry-on.

More about Lindsay.

Keeping My Priorities Straight

(Academics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
  Megan Rudy My return to the Academy met with sad news. A few of my close friends from my 4/c company in Hotel were getting disenrolled for illegal substances and although they had made very poor choices, I was very sad to see them leave, because they are good people and I have been through a lot with them. This entire month was centered around the drama of the “Spice boys.” The whole situation I think has taught me and my classmates a lot about what it means to be here and that one mistake, even little ones can get you kicked out of this place, although you may have worked very hard toward getting here. It has taught me to keep my priorities straight and focus on my long-term goals.

I also realized that I cannot play water polo as I had planned with a broken arm, so instead I have decided to train for a half marathon in New York with my ex roommate. I hope to some day do a full marathon and then maybe a 100 mile ultra-marathon in the future. I have been running every day this month and even got those toe shoes, a lot of people here have them and they are super comfortable. It feels like I’m running barefoot.

Also my class schedule has lightened up tremendously and I have mostly my major classes, which I really enjoy. I still have physics and calculus to make it through before I will be completely done with math! I celebrated my 20th birthday at the end of the month and my parents surprised me by ordering me the fanciest cake, which was two layers tall and looked like it should have been for a wedding! It was chocolate raspberry mouse flavored and I had so much extra to share that it still wasn’t gone by the end of the week! My closest friends also surprised me by decorating my room with balloons and sticky notes covered my door wishing me happy birthday from at least 100 different people. Then a group of ten of us went to Longhorn Steakhouse to celebrate my birthday dinner. Now I am looking forward to Spring Break, when I will be heading to Vegas with some of my friends and we are super excited to see a Cirque du Soleil show.

More about Megan.

Living In a Whirlwind

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
  Mark Zanowicz My finger looms over the “Submit” button. The next two years of my life hang in limbo. Am I making the right decision? Should I have reconsidered the order of my billets? Is some weird glitch in this program going to screw up my submission and send me to some dismal corner of the frozen north? Too late for those worries now, I’ve clicked the mouse. The rest is out of my hands.

Such was my experience submitting my E-Resume – my “dream sheet” of desired billets – just over a week ago. Somehow I thought it would feel a little more significant. But really, it was just another click of the mouse. I’ve been here almost four years now; I’ve clicked this Logitech mouse hundreds of thousands of times. It’s weird to think that one tiny movement of my finger has decided my fate for the next two years.

And then, it’s back to the books.

I know I often talk about how crazy things can be here. This semester has been no different in that regard. There’s still plenty of studying to be done, military obligations to be met, and a lot of little things to take care of before graduation in May.

The real difference this semester comes from the fact that it is the last one. All the 1/c know that this is it, and there’s a certain mood in the air of impending change. And with that feeling comes a sense of reflection over the past few years.

I don’t think anyone can look back on their experience at the Academy and claim it was an entirely great time, but there is something to be said for the things that we’ll never be able to experience again. I think I’m going to miss having so many friends living right down the hall from me. I’m going to miss blasting thrash metal while scribbling through the homework I should have finished the night before. And oddly enough, I’m sure I’ll miss having mostly schoolwork to worry about instead of an endless barrage of paperwork and qualifications to complete. Hey, I might even miss New London.

Actually, I have my doubts about that last one.

Looking back now though, if there’s one thing about the Academy that is much clearer in hindsight, it’s that there are a huge amount of opportunities available here. Even beyond all the clubs, sports, and events you can participate in, there are plenty of people here who have had incredible experiences and can offer great insight not just about being an officer, but also about life in general. There are plenty of connections to be made, and if you do decide to enroll at the Academy, my best advice would be to make the most of it. It’s not going to be fun, but that’s no reason to hang your head and be miserable. I’m sure most people won’t come in here with that kind of attitude, but it’s very easy to get beaten down while you’re here. Don’t let it happen.

I guess the real lesson to be learned is that you shouldn’t just wait around for things to get better here. When I was in high school, all I could do my senior year was think about how much better things were going to be in college. And then Swab Summer came along, and I thought of how much better 4/c year would be when we didn’t have to scream all the time and go to calisthenics every morning. When 4/c year came along, I thought of how much better it would be to not have to square meals and brace up like a robot. And so on and so forth. Now I’m a 1/c with a car, shorts every weekend, and almost all the privileges I can possibly have as a cadet, and yet I’m still here waiting out the days until Graduation because I know that’s when things will really start getting better.

The truth is, you should do what you can in the present instead of waiting for the better times you know are coming. Sure, things do really improve as you go on. But at the same time, there’s always something you’ll be waiting for – be it the ability to walk out of the front gate in civilian clothes for the first time or finally packing out of Chase Hall and moving into your new apartment as a freshly commissioned Ensign.

Take full advantage of the opportunities available to you when you’re here. Don’t think of the four years at the Academy as a firestorm you must survive to receive your commission – instead, think of all the potential paths to follow and countless opportunities to pursue while you’re a cadet. Four years really does fly by. Even the smallest conversation might elicit an interest in something you had never thought of pursuing before.

I guess this entry really didn’t offer too much beyond some aimless rambling. For that, my apologies. As always, if you have any questions about Academy life, the Coast Guard, or what the best death metal bands are, feel free to shoot me an email at Mark.E.Zanowicz@uscga.edu. And if you’re one of the ones out there who’s waiting to hear back from Admissions, I wish you the very best of luck.

More about Mark.