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cadet blogs

And Now For Something Completely Different…

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Kathryn Peek At the Coast Guard Academy, there are a variety of opportunities that are intended to allow cadets to step outside their comfort zones and experience all the facets of military life. One of those opportunities is the Cadet Exchange Program, which allows Coast Guard cadets to go to Annapolis, West Point, or the Air Force Academy for a semester. I am currently at the Air Force Academy in beautiful (and currently very cold) Colorado Springs, Colorado. There are two other Coasties with me on exchange, as well as a handful of Navy midshipmen and a sum of West Point cadets. Of course the main questions I have been getting is, “Have you seen "The Guardian"?” and “How different is USAFA from CGA?” As far as The Guardian goes, yes, I have seen it, and no, I don’t want to be like Kutcher when I grow up. Demi and I would never work.

With regard to the differences between USAFA and the Coast Guard Academy, we are very similar, save for a few different perks and a few different regulations. Here in the land of the airmen, floors are called floors, not decks. Walls are walls, not bulkheads, stairs are stairs not ladder wells, and bathrooms are called bathrooms, not heads. Aside from a lack of nautical terminology, the academic culture is the same. Here, you still have to work with one another to survive difficult classes. Like CGA, the teachers here are very accessible and want to see you succeed. They invest their time in you not only to make sure you absorb the information for the exams, but to ensure that you are also developing the tools necessary to lead and take care of your people out in the fleet. Between the academics, athletics, and military components of both academies, the end goals are the same – to produce competent, confident officers who utilize a core values system to serve our fine country and ensure that there will be a tomorrow.

More about Katy.

Sometimes 1600 Is Only the Beginning

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Kathryn Peek Every so often there will be those days where time management is essential for the retention of your sanity. Today was one of those days for many of my shipmates and myself. Drill practice in the morning, followed by a full day of classes, a sports practice, a corps-wide lecture, and a science lecture as well as run of the mill last minute homework assignments due on Friday shows that we cadets can put that pink Energizer Bunny to shame. Luckily, many of the time management skills you need come either from genetics, or during first semester of 4/c year. The rest of your time at the Academy refines your ability to be a one man circus act as you balance the immediate necessary tasks on your nose, while holding all the upcoming future tasks in your left hand as you walk on a tight rope of random, “out of the blue” obstacles. Optimism, appreciation of the small things, and a Dry Dock coffee help to make the long days enjoyable.

More about Katy.

The Right Side of a Cadet's Noggin

(Just for Fun, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Kathryn Peek Last night I relived my good old high school days as I pulled an all-nighter, listening to music and painting. I went to bed around 6:30 this morning with the sun up, but more importantly, with my art piece finished for this week’s Cadet Art Show. The Cadet Art Show is an event held once a year in Upper Leamy. The artists come out of the woodwork of the cadet corps and submit all the wonderful right-brained creations that they produced during their free time between academics, sports, and military obligations. It is an event for all those who love funneling their emotions and inner workings into a finished visual aesthetic.

The show runs through April, showcasing the creativity ranging from the management majors to the engineers and from charcoal to sculptures. Moseying among the art is a breath of fresh air after dealing with all of the "this is how and why the world works" material we muddle through on a daily basis. Before coming to the Academy, I was definitely a little bit nervous that I would not have time to enjoy my creative outlet of painting. The thought, "a military academy will squash my creativity like a fly being swatted by a flyswatter," did cross my mind. However, that was a vast misconception. The Academy contains many diverse options for cadets who enjoy the arts. There are many programs for those musically inclined, as well as events such as the Art Show and the Talent Show where cadets can demonstrate entertaining and sometimes every abstract talent. There are many options for cadets to fully embrace the right side of their noggins.

More about Katy.

Words of Wisdom From the Sponsors

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Kathryn Peek Christmas leave last year was my first time home after reporting to the Academy on that anxiety ridden day in June. I can honestly say that returning to the Academy after my first stint back to Colorado was even harder than showing up for R-Day. To comfort me, my sponsor dad said “Don’t worry, the return gets easier with each year,” followed by “next year you won’t groan this much when we drive through the front gates.” I flashed a false smile and nodded. However, that little voice inside was screaming “NONSENSE!” Despite my pessimism, his words of reassurance are true. Returning back to the Academy from this last spring leave was rather painless and seasoned with excitement as the spring semester has a tendency to fly by. The weather improves, and the corps’ moral follows suit. More importantly, the conclusion of spring semester means the best part of the cadet experience…summer training.

More about Katy.

The First Day of Track Practice

(Athletics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Kathryn Peek Today began my first day of track practices for the season, and my first practice as a mid-distance runner. It was great to be able to see all those returning from last season as well as the many new runners that have joined the team. We have a lot of really strong 4/c that are sure to help us out in all of the categories of competition. After not really doing much running over the break, my legs really weren’t too happy after doing the 2X3X300’s that practice consisted of, but it felt great to be running hard again. For mid-distance we have a fairly small female team, only consisting of myself and five other runners. However, to fill the relays we are hoping to take a few girls from the sprinters and from the distance runners, which usually happens. We have plenty of time to get back into the swing of things and figure out who will be running what as the first meet isn’t until later January.

More about Katy.

November 19, 2009

(Athletics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Kathryn Peek The legs are feeling good as I just finished a nice brisk run with a fellow cross-country buddy. The weather here at the moment is beautiful. There is a slight breeze and the air is crisp, perfect for long runs. To top it off I love running when the sun is setting, and now I don’t even have to wait till 7 or 8 to do my sunset runs as the sun is down at 4:30. The trees are bare, and the crunching of the leaves as we ran the trails behind Conn College was a calming and very satisfying sound. My friend and I both do all three running sports seasons (cross-country, indoor track, and outdoor track) and right now we are in the transition period between cross-country and indoor track. Coach had us take this week to ourselves to do some relaxing runs, decompress from cross-country, and get ready to start track season fresh. I am extremely optimistic about the upcoming track season as I love the team and I am looking forward to see new faces.

The coaching staff is absolutely wonderful as well. All the coaches, whether they be the distance, mid-distance, sprinting, jumping, or throwing coaches, are all amazing. They really do care to see us achieve the highest level of success as runners, and more importantly as decent human beings. The amount of time that they invest in us, whether we are beginners or seasoned athletes is extremely gracious. They don’t cut, and as long as you put in the time and the heart into all of the practices, they will work with you in whatever you want to do. I even got to try sprinting for the first time last winter season. I’m pretty sure that if any other college you were to tell a coach that you have been a distance runner all your life but you want to try sprinting, they will raise an eyebrow, chuckle, and walk away. However, the response that I got from my sprinting coach was a “let’s see what we can do,” and a smile. I am getting antsy to start practices.

More about Katy.

The Days Go By Slowly but the Weeks Fly

(Academics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Kathryn Peek Hallelujah! Just finished my last military obligation! Now it’s just the long slow wait (it’s really only a few hours, but it seems like forever when you’re this excited) until I take a bus to the airport and fly out of here for Thanksgiving. Chase Hall is alive with excitement at the moment–there are people singing in the p-ways, there is the slamming of drawers as cadets pack at full speed, and there is plenty of indecipherable hootin’ and hollerin’ as cadets rush to meet their transportation. Thanksgiving leave is bittersweet. It’s great to get out and decompress from the busy Academy days. It also means that there are only three weeks until Christmas leave. However, those three weeks consist of epic cramage as there is a lot to do in a short amount of time. There is less than two weeks before finals. Everyone is going to be filled to the brim with work as we all take our last minute tests and finish our last minute papers and projects before delving head first into finals. As busy as everything is, the morale skyrockets (as there is a very bright light at the end of this tunnel), and it will all be over in a blink of an eye. The days go by slowly but the weeks fly–that’s how time has passed at the Academy, ever since R-Day.

More about Katy.

Twas the Day Before Thanksgiving Leave

(Just for Fun, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Kathryn Peek T’was the day before Thanksgiving leave
And all through Chase Hall
Every cadet was stirring
Excitement bouncing off every wall

Only sixteen hours left
Until our LMO
But my mind and productivity
Checked out about an hour ago

The seabag is packed
Stuffed to its limits
As I packed way too many civies
For only a four day visit

It will be nice to take a quick break
From tying the hair back tight
From fiddling with the shirt stays
And making sure stowage is just right

I can’t wait to just relax
And spend time with family
One more class tomorrow morning
And then Thanksgiving Leave!!!

More about Katy.

Fall is in the Air…

(Academics, Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Priesing The air is chill, they sky is graying, and orange pumpkins can be seen in the windows of Chase Hall. It’s hard to believe half the semester has flown by, but, at the same time, my exhaustion level and flipping through my planner provides evidence that it has. This semester I am the Boat House Manager for the Crew teams. I decided not to row this year for a bunch of different reasons, but I couldn’t pry myself away from the team and amazing people that row. This way I am still involved with the goings-on at the boat house. It’s worked out pretty well so far. This past weekend, they rowed in the Head of the Charles. The Head of the Charles is the world’s largest intercollegiate crew race, and they did remarkably well! I am very proud of those girls!

Classes are crazy, as always. In September I wrote about a project on the Thames River. We’re studying eddy formation around Mamacoke Island, an island right off of the Academy campus. We’ve finally finished collecting data, and now we’re analyzing the data from the GPS units through programs like Microsoft Excel and ArcGIS. It’s pretty fun stuff. Sometimes I find myself getting a little overwhelmed, but luckily it’s a group project and the other girls understand what’s happening.

Halloween is coming up! I love it around here for the holiday, because we all get to dress up! I think a few of my favorite costumes have been the fourth class that dressed up like a “Bean Sprout” (meaning she wore civilian clothes like a high school senior would…we can’t wear civies around here until we’re second class. She found a loop hole!), the Popeye and Olive pair (they were roommates…needless to say Olive looked a little more butch than usual) and the “Blue Screen of Death” on a computer that was caused by the unsaved “Final.doc” People get creative, and it is usually a great time.

I’ve got to write a paper for my American Government class, but I just wanted to check in. Email me if you’ve got any questions!

More about Katie.

Hit the Ground Running

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Priesing It’s the third week of school, and everything is back in full swing. With only 251 days until graduation, I am realizing how much business is packed into first class year. I have five classes this semester: Nautical Science IV, American Government, Criminal Justice, Marine Ecology, and Coastal Oceanography. My schedule is set up nicely and I have both of my MES classes on the same days. We got qualified to take out the RHIs (rigid-hull inflatable boats) on the Thames River during my Coastal Oceanography classes. This semester I will work with two other people, and we will study the effects of currents on eddies in the Thames. It’s pretty exciting, especially since I’ve spent the last three years rowing up and down the river wondering why the water moves different ways in different areas. Dorky, yes, but it’s true!re

This weekend we’ve got the big sports events against the Merchant Marine Academy. The football, soccer, and volleyball teams are all competing to win the Secretary’s Cup. The school that wins 2/3 of the games that day wins the cup and gets the trophy. It’s exciting business! We’ve got a pep rally on Thursday, and everyone is getting bussed down to New York this weekend to watch the games.

I have not written in a while, so I’ve got plenty to say. I’ll try to phase my Navy exchange and summer experiences in periodically over the next few months. Feel free to email me ( if you have specific questions about my USCGA or USNA experiences. I love both academies, and I will give you honest answers about both of them.

One thing I do want to highlight was one of the most eye opening experiences I have ever had in my life: migrant operations. This summer, a total of six cadets (including myself) were sent to the USCGC Mohawk. The Mohawk is home ported in Key West, Florida. We arrived in mid-June and spent about nine weeks on board. We got to go on patrol around the Caribbean for 31 days. We set out on July 2, and just two days later, on the 4th of July, we had our first operation. It was an Independence Day I will surely never forget.

We drove up to a sailing vessel that had what appeared to be three men on board. As we approached the vessel with homemade sails, it reciprocated its course to head back toward land. It was riding rather low in the water, and due to its suspicious behavior, our captain gave the order to lower the small boat. Upon inspection, twenty-five more people were found on the rinky-dink sailboat. We found a migrant vessel that had been underway for less than a day. Most of the people were willing to come on our ship, but three of the men stayed on their vessel. We did not have the legal jurisdiction to order them off the vessel or to arrest them. While they stayed on their poorly built sailboat, the rest of the migrants were in-processed on our flight deck. The migrants changed into white paper-like suits and got medically checked-out by the Health Services Technician on board. After we put all their belongings and clothes into plastic bags, the migrants received toothbrushes, toothpaste, and face cloths. They had to sleep under a tent on the flight deck until the Haitian Coast Guard met up with us the following day. As for the men that stayed on their vessel, we followed them back toward Haiti all night long. We were only moving at about 4 knots. It was a very long, slow night.

In the end, we had to repatriate all twenty-eight people back to Haiti. We burned their vessel because it was a hazard to navigation, and we could not give it back to them because it was unsafe and they may have just tried to use it again. That was my first experience with migrants. I will write more about my other experiences in the blogs to follow. For now I have to go read for my Criminal Justice class. Take care, I hope all is well!

More about Katie.

Life on the Other Side

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Priesing Hi everyone! It’s been awhile, and I apologize. This semester I am on exchange at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. I decided to apply for the Service Academy Exchange Program before I even finished Swab Summer. One of my cadre told us she was not going to be at CGA for my class’s first semester, but that she would still be available via email. She said she was going to Navy for a semester. This caught my attention because I wanted to know what it was like at Navy. I was offered an appointment to both Navy and Coast Guard as a senior in high school, and to this day the decision to go to the Coast Guard Academy is the biggest decision I have ever had to make. I spent the last two and a half years at Coast Guard content but always wondering if I made the right choice. Well, after five semesters at Coast Guard and now thirteen weeks at Navy, I can finally say I know I have made the right decision.

I have had a great – phenomenal – time at the Naval Academy. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. I have two of the best roommates I could have ever asked for, I was put in the best company in the entire brigade, and I’ve joined and toured with the Naval Academy Women’s Glee Club. This spring break we went to New Mexico and Texas, and while we were in Houston, we just happened to sing at President George H.W. Bush’s church. We got to meet him and Mrs. Barbara Bush after our performance. Since coming on exchange, I have experienced a Navy Dining-Out, slept in the (in)famous Bancroft Hall, and toured the West Wing of the White House. I have met some of the future officers of our Navy and Marine Corps. I know I am going to look back at this semester and laugh when I think about all the fun I have had and talk to the amazing people I have met.

Although the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard are all military services, there are very fundamental differences. The Coast Guard is the only branch of the military that is not in the Department of Defense. As an organization that falls under the Department of Homeland Security, Coast Guard has multiple maritime missions. I’m not going to write about them because they’re easy to find through Google or Wikipedia, but this semester at Navy has made me appreciate those missions so much. It’s like that song “Big Yellow Taxi”: “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.” Luckily, I will be going back to the Coast Guard Academy next semester and I look forward to using what I’ve learned here at Navy to get through my last (!) year at the USCGA. If you have any questions about either Academy, please feel free to email and ask. Fair warning: I will probably be a little biased, but that’s just because the Coast Guard is the best! Take care!

More about Katie.

Time’s A-Ticking...

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Priesing I can hardly believe how fast this semester has gone by. Today I’m leaving to spend Thanksgiving with my uncles and cousins in West Virginia, and when I get back from leave there will only be eight more days of class! It is so exciting! After this semester I will be heading to the United States Naval Academy for a semester. I hope to learn a lot from that school and that service. It should be great!

This past weekend I went with the Glee Club to Jets Stadium and sang the National Anthem. Words cannot describe how amazing that opportunity was. The crowd was phenomenal and there was obvious support for the armed forces all throughout the stadium. It was wonderful. The weekend before this, the Glee Club went to Palmyra, Pennsylvania and sang for the town’s anniversary. They were so welcoming, and since it was just a few minutes from Hershey Park, we got to visit that, too! We also had a tour of a bologna factory. It was great to see how proud the town was of its history. Glee Club has been so much fun, and I’ve had a great time performing.

This semester has been extremely challenging academically. Labs have taken up a lot of my time, but they were a lot of fun. I doubt there was a single Fisheries Biology lab that was not the highlight of my week. In my classes, we dissected both bony and cartilaginous dogfish. I have learned a lot from my courses, and as the semester is winding down, it is interesting to see how my classes overlap. In Geospatial Sciences, we were talking about lossless data. We talked about lossless data in my Introduction to Electrical Engineering class at the beginning of the semester so now I knew what my teacher was talking about! It’s always really exciting me when I can connect the dots. I’ve got to pack for this upcoming week, but I look forward to coming back to the Academy well rested and ready to finish this semester! Happy Thanksgiving!

More about Katie.


(Academics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Priesing It is the middle of October. After taking a look out the window it is obvious that it is autumn in New England. This is the Academy’s prettiest time of year. The color of the leaves changing reflects on the Thames River, and it’s a beautiful site I get to see every day when I go to crew practice. Sometimes I just need to appreciate those kinds of things…

Classes are hard! I mean really, really hard! It is funny because I remember everyone telling me that a Marine Environmental Science major’s hardest year is 3/c year, but I beg to differ. This semester has been full of group projects, presentations, and the like. Not a week has gone by that I didn’t have some major part of my grade due in at least one of my classes. Most weeks it’s been for multiple classes! I suppose that’s what I should expect, but I am still amazed. Although the workload may be insane, it is nice to look back each week and see everything that I did finish. Sometimes in the middle of the week it feels like I’ll never get through all the assignments, but by the end of the week I realize I did. It comes with a nice sense of accomplishment. Hopefully I’ll feel the same way by the end of the semester!

I think next week the whole corps is going to dress up and go trick-or-treating at the Admiral’s house. That’s always a good time. I can’t wait until the 31st. Happy Halloween!

More about Katie.

Projects, Everywhere I Turn!

(Academics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Priesing School is in FULL swing. For grins and giggles, I peeked ahead to the month of October in my planner: it’s covered in due dates and crew races and glee club performances. REALLY covered. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. Being busy always makes the semester move along quickly, but I am a little nervous about getting everything done to standard. It’s okay though. It will all work out.

This year, CGA won the Secretary’s Cup. That means we smoked the Merchant Marine Academy when they came one Saturday to play soccer, volleyball, and football. It was probably the best showing of school spirit I’ve ever seen from our Corps of Cadets! I had so much fun the week before the games. There was music over the speaker system before formations, games and other goofy activities held during lunch, and a few morale videos that were hilarious. This weekend should be pretty fun too…it’s Homecoming!

I hate to keep this short, but like I said, I’m kind of swamped. I’ll write more about classes and the fun labs (no sarcasm, I really am having a blast in my Fisheries Biology lab) as soon as I get a chance!

More about Katie.

Classes? Already?

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Priesing Eagle was awesome! I really don’t have another word to describe it. Getting underway was so much fun, and even though we only travelled up the East Coast, I think this was my favorite Eagle experience. Last year we went to Europe, and that was fun, but I think the difference was that the people I was with on Eagle this year wanted to be there. The swabs were excited because they were not getting screamed at, and the cadre had all volunteered to be on Eagle. Besides, what’s not to love about being underway with 22 out of 23 sails set on America’s Tall Ship? I mean, really!?

For most of them, it was their first time on a ship. We had to break things down to the very basics. We taught swabs to keep one hand for them and one hand for the ship just in case we took a roll and how to make their racks with the fire blankets. We explained sea showers and kept an eye out for anyone getting sea sick. I got another opportunity to see just how important it is to take care of your people. If the swabs left Eagle in one piece, happy, with a liking for the sea and its lore, I think it’s safe to say my classmates and I did our job well. Go 2012!

My summer cadre experience is over, and classes start tomorrow. I remember my dad would always sing that, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” song in the weeks preceding the first day of school. My sisters and I never really agreed. In a just few weeks it will be CGA vs. the Merchant Marine Academy in football, soccer, and volleyball. MMA is our major rival, so all I have left to say about that is…Go Bears, beat MMA!

More about Katie.


(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Priesing As I sit at the Golf Company OOD desk, I’m reflecting on the summer this far. It’s not over yet, but I’ve already had some really memorable experiences. The first few weeks were spent working with the Cape May Company Commanders, studying for the mariner’s version of Driver’s Ed called Rules of the Road, and learning how to shoot a gun. After those three weeks, I went on leave. I got to see friends in Florida, family and friends in North Carolina, and then one of my sisters and I took a road trip up to Boston for two Red Sox games! (They won both, by the way.) While in North Carolina, I spent time at the beach and caught up with some friends from elementary and high school. We also went skydiving. It was a summer break I’ll never forget!

The excitement did not stop there. After leave, I return to the Academy just to turn around and go to Baltimore, Maryland. A few of my classmates and I got to shadow marine inspectors and experience a few days in the Coast Guard prevention field. We toured headquarters, met with an admiral and even got to see the command center for the current Gulf oil spill.

After that week, I spent two more weeks at the Academy. My cadre section sailed in 26-foot Colgates and learned deck seamanship on T-Boats. I spent last week in Mobile, Alabama. It was AWESOME there!!! I think I could live there when I get old. The purpose for that trip was to introduce cadets to Coast Guard aviation. Some of my classmates got to fly around in helicopters, while others of us went on Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) flights. I was actually on a flight that went over the site of the Deepwater Horizon explosion the day before the current cap was installed. The site I saw will be in my brain forever. It was unbelievable.

This week my cadre section is preparing for our next three weeks on the USCGC Eagle. More writing and pictures will follow!

More about Katie.

Summertime is Finally Here…

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Priesing YAY!! The semester is over, the firsties have graduated, and now it’s mostly just my class working around the Academy now. It was a long semester, with plenty of ups and downs, but I can honestly say it’s been my best semester at the Academy. I had so much fun with the crew team, my classes were interesting, and I earned my best grades since coming here. Two weeks ago, classes ended and we started our summer training period. Summer was ushered in by a visit from the Cape May Company Commanders (CCs).

The Cape May CCs are the men and women that run the enlisted boot camp in Cape May, New Jersey. They came to train us on how to train the incoming swabs, and let me tell you, they are professionals. There is no other word to describe them. The week was full of hustling, a little bit of yelling and some IT (incentive training…not fun stuff). By the end of the week, the craziness had paid off. It was not all work either. A bunch of my classmates and the CCs made it a really great experience. I think most of us had a boatload of fun. The reward was great, too: the class of 2012 was frocked as second class cadets and we got new responsibilities and privileges.

It’s official. Now we get to wear civilian clothes on liberty!!! It took two years, but I really think it’s made us appreciate the little things like jeans and flip-flops that much more. I am so happy it is summer and we get a break from classes. The next few months are sure to be full of laughter, hard work, and traveling and I cannot wait to enjoy it all!

More about Katie.

Sing It Rascal Flatts!

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Priesing "I hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow, And each road leads you where you want to go, And if you're faced with the choice and you have to choose, I hope you choose the one that means the most to you…"

That’s from the Rascal Flatts song "My Wish." I know it’s getting to be that time when all the high school seniors are choosing where they’re going to go and making other decisions that will affect the rest of their life. I remember driving home from work one night during my senior year and hearing that Rascal Flatts song on the radio. I know it may sound cliché, but when I heard it, things pretty much just clicked in my head. I had been on the fence for awhile about going to the Naval Academy or the Coast Guard Academy. Throughout the application process I had my hopes set on the Naval Academy. When I got accepted to both schools, however, there was something that held me back from signing on the Navy’s dotted line immediately. I felt like there was something missing.

I decided to come to the Coast Guard Academy for several different reasons. Probably the most important reason was because of its humanitarian and security-focused missions. I know the schools are important, but I tried to focus more on the career afterward. College is only four years, but your career can be anywhere from five to twenty years or even more. I thought about the jobs I would have after graduation, and the leadership opportunities each service had to offer. Obviously, in the end I chose the Coast Guard. I’m really glad with that decision, and I think it’s because I chose the thing that means the most to me: having the opportunity to save lives and defend our country. Not that the Navy doesn’t do these things, I just like the Coast Guard’s methods better.

Good luck to all the seniors and people making difficult life decisions in the next few months. Ask around, do your homework, but most importantly, figure out what’s most important to you.

More about Katie.

Almost Halfway

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Priesing What a busy few weeks! I think all the teachers cram everything into the week or two before spring break. I don’t think words can describe how excited I am for March 7th to come. I’m heading home to North Carolina for this year’s spring break, and I’ll get to see all my sisters! One of them is moving to Texas that week, and this summer another sister is moving to Arizona. I should probably look into a frequent-flyer rewards program…

Two weeks ago we had a snow day (which was awesome) and last week we had President’s Day off. That’s two weeks in a row of only four days of classes! Don’t worry though; we’re still getting all the topics covered for each class at warp speed. Within the next week and a half, I have two papers and a lab write-up due, a lab for another class and three tests to conquer! And crew started yesterday, and the team is hitting the ground running. Our coach isn’t wasting any time getting us up to 34 strokes per minute with 500 meter split times as low as physically possible. I suppose it’s good to be busy…it keeps me busy enough so I don’t count the minutes to spring break, but not enough to become overwhelming. As Joe Dirt says, “Keep on keeping on!” Haha!

More about Katie.

One Week Down, Months to Go

(Academics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Priesing It’s Friday night and I just got back from going to a hockey game with some friends. The game didn’t turn out how we wanted it, but it was still fun to go and be loud; screaming and yelling for the team. This was a nice end to a long week. After winter leave (which was great) all the cadets had a week for academic processing before the real classes started. That week was spent taking the PFE (got my highest score yet!!), meeting with teachers, checking schedules, and buying books. There were some other training thrown in the week as well, but mostly it was used to prepare for the upcoming semester.

This term I’m taking a bunch of classes: Physics II, Physical Oceanography, Professional Rescuer, Leadership and Organizational Behavior, Marine Geochemistry, Nautical Science II, and Differential Equations. Needless to say, my schedule is packed full from 0800 until 1540 on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It’s pretty full on Tuesdays and Thursdays as well. Any free time during the week will probably be spent in a math teacher’s office, since math–let alone Differential Equations!–is not exactly my forte. It’s nice, though, because the teachers are always willing to help. I think, in the year and a half I’ve been here, I’ve only had one teacher say he was too busy to help, but even then he still offered the name of another teacher who had time. The teaching staff here is pretty awesome. A lot of the teachers have graduated from the Academy so they really know what it is like to be a cadet: balancing sports, trainings, homework and classes, formations, family-style meals, clubs, and all the while trying to squeeze in a social life for sanity. Classes here are fun and definitely rewarding, but sometimes a week just flies by too fast while at the same time it is excruciatingly long. TGIF!!

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Contents Under Pressure

(Academics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Priesing Whew! Two down, three finals to go. We’ve entered finals week and the prize at the end of this marathon is winter leave! I am so excited to get home, but first I have to get through three more exams.

Believe it or not, my favorite time of year around the Academy is right now. Most things are quiet and focused. Everyone is excited about leave, but we are also aware of all the hard work that’s got to be put in before we get to go. Roger Staubach (no, I’m NOT a Cowboy’s fan…) said, “Spectacular achievements are always preceded by unspectacular preparation.” This certainly applies to these few weeks. Right about now, a thousand cadets stop just about everything to buckle down and study with the hopes of bringing up their final grades. To be able feel that sense of accomplishment, first we’ve got to log off the computers, silence the cell phones, and open a few books. Well, maybe we can just put the cell phone on vibrate…a little study break never hurts anyone!

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Family and Friends

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2012) Permanent link
Katie Priesing Hello! This is my first journal entry, so I figure I should let you know a few things about me: I am the youngest of five daughters and I wouldn’t trade my sisters for anything. My dad is a retired Marine and my mom is a nurse, they’re the glue that holds me together. Luckily I never had to move when I was growing up, so I lived in the great state of North Carolina my whole life until I reported to the Academy in June 2008. Enough about all that…into this past week!

This past weekend I went with the Catholic Choir to sing at a church in Reading, Massachusetts. We stayed overnight with a family from the church, and I am so surprised at how willing several families were to let myself and other cadets stay with them! It was a fun trip, and from what everyone says we sounded really good. It’s been a relatively light week as far as classes go…no tests. My birthday was on Monday, and a few friends made it so special! I came back to my room after working on some physics to find it decorated and extra colorful. I got to leave the decorations up all day, so every time I walked in my room I was reminded of how awesome friends are! That’s about all that’s going on for now…I’m looking forward to heading to the weather station with my Meteorology Lab next week. Right after that I’m heading out for Thanksgiving leave!!!

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Summertime and the Livin’ is Hard

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Steven Roth I hadn’t been to a “real” Coast Guard unit in my entire time as a cadet until this summer, my firstie summer. Eagle was great, don’t get me wrong, but they simply don’t do many of the main missions of the Coast Guard such as Law Enforcement and Alien Migrant Interdiction Operations (AMIO). For my summer, I spent 12 weeks onboard USCGC Confidence, a 210 foot medium endurance cutter based in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

It was hard work, I won’t lie to you. I scrubbed boats and dishes, swabbed (mopped) decks (floors) in addition to trying to qualify in certain positions on the bridge and interact with the wardroom. For all that though, it was completely worth it to be involved with the real missions of the Coast Guard. Half way in to our patrol we had our largest AMIO case of the summer. We had a few small ones, but this is one I won’t soon forget. We interdicted a sail freighter around sunset with what looked like 20 or so people aboard. Turns out it was 90.

They had been out at sea for multiple days, and weren’t going to make it much longer. I spent the next four hours escorting them up to the flight deck to where they were going to stay. After having been up for 20 hours at that point, I got an hour of sleep before going on watch from midnight until four A.M. All this sounds absolutely miserable, but helping those 90 people, and seeing the looks on their faces, is something I will never forget, and a constant reminder of why I really joined the Coast Guard.

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September 11th, 10 Years Later

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Steven Roth Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the attacks of September 11th. Although I’m not sure why every anniversary is not marked so meaningfully, the 10th anniversary was what most people would classify as a “big deal.” Unlike those service men and women a few years older, for the most part, my class did not join the military because of 9/11, rather we joined in the middle of the resulting wars and conflicts.

As I sat in my 6th grade science class, I knew something terrible had happened, but I certainly did not know how it would affect my future. The post-9/11 world is my life because of the little recollection I have sustained of what the United States and the world was like before that. Bottom line, I did not join the military or the Coast Guard because I wanted revenge for 9/11.

I spent Sunday, September 11th sailing under a clear blue sky, much like the on that shone over New York and Washington 10 years ago. I was sailing against the top teams in New England and sailing well, but not winning much. No one likes to lose. After the day was over, I overheard the conversations about the other teams’ entire afternoon practices, and the nights they have debriefs, and the classes they skip just because, etc.

We have two hours to practice, and last week, had to run off to multiple lectures and trainings. It made me question how much better I could be at sailing if there wasn’t all these nuisances in the way. This thought followed me into a local pub that night. After two hard days of sailing, it was time for some relaxation. I sat there with fellow team members, watching the clock, to see when I had to return from liberty.

As I looked back from the clock, I saw new footage of the Twin Towers literally falling on the NYFD, and then the screen going black. This was immediately followed by the NYPD drum and bugle corps playing amazing grace at the Jets game on a different TV. Chills ran down my entire body, needless to say. I looked over at my friend, with his face in his hand, attempting to try and hide his emotions. The bar was filled with senior enlisted Coasties attempting to do the same, most failing.

That thought of becoming a top college sailor immediately left my mind for something far more meaningful and powerful. I just thought to myself, “you’re damn right I’m glad I am where I am.”

Although I was far too young to be a “9/11 avenger” I am certainly in a position to defend my country, and make sure we can keep sailing whenever we want. That’s a position I realize I wouldn’t give up to sail the Olympics, and perhaps a position some of those other top sailors wish they were in: the position to make a difference.

Granted, many of my Ivy League friends are political science majors, and pre-meds that have every intention of making that difference in the post 9/11 world. However, with the current state of the economy, the likelihood of them achieving their goals is slimming with every drop in the Dow Jones. As long as I stay out of trouble, I get to take my butter bars in 8 short months and make a real difference, something I wouldn’t trade for any amount of sailing talent, or anything else.

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March Madness

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Steven Roth It’s hard to remember the thoughts circulating through my high school mind in the remaining months of my free life. I can guarantee you it wasn’t homework. I can remember my Mom spending late nights on the parent’s message board obsessing over what kind of socks to send me with and wondering if I would have enough toothbrushes, etc.

Here’s my advice to anyone who has recently been accepted – don’t sweat the little things. You’ll do plenty of sweating once you get here. Don’t worry about how tall your socks are or how many toiletries you have. You WILL be taken care of, and you will be made fun of. Every one of you is going to look 100% ridiculous to anyone on the outside world. It’s all part of the process. It’s easy to say this looking back, but let loose for those remaining months, because as much as you like to think that laid back high school senior attitude will reappear after the summer, it has no chance. You will never be the same after Swab Summer, but for most people, that’s a good thing. I know it was for me.

See your friends, make sure you connect with your parents before the seven weeks of mail correspondence only, but most of all, leave the worrying to us. You would be amazed the stress placed on your cadre, just so they can make it look easy. We always joke that your 2/c summer is ten times harder than Swab Summer. Enjoy those final months of not being in the military. Take it all in, because once you get here and get that killer haircut, you will never be the same.

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Lessons from Outside the Front Gate

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Steven Roth Cadets love to complain…about everything. We all hate inspections, waking up, and schoolwork, among other things. We live for the weekend. In the midst of the whirlwind schedule that is cadet life, it is far too easy to forget why you are at the Academy and why you actually want to be here despite the pressures. It seems like just when you are really questioning your decision to attend the Academy, something completely unexpected and random happens that makes the Academy 100% worth it, if you can manage the pressure.

My friends and I generally spend the average Saturday afternoon relaxing at a local cigar lounge and this past weekend was no different, with one exception. There was a photo shoot taking place for a clothing company and as my friends and I sat in the background, we heard some interesting conversation. Two of the models attended Connecticut College and remarked how they both absolutely hated their jobs. They both took jobs that had nothing to do with their degrees to pay the bills, and they couldn’t have been more unhappy with what they referred to as “the real world.”

It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture when you’re in the weekly grind, but every now and then, there is a friendly reminder that perhaps the choice was worth it. In a year and a half I’ll have a job that I’m 90% sure I’ll love. Cadets certainly undergo quite a bit of stress but thankfully finding a job in this economy is not one of them, not to mention the money isn’t bad either.

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What It Means to Go Home

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Steven Roth Admittedly, it has been a few months since my last journal entry, which should be indicative of the Government major paper-writing work load I have endured in the waning days of the semester. After polishing off my last major term paper, the train ride back to school from Thanksgiving leave has given me some time to reflect. I sat next to a 4/c cadet on the plane ride home and recalled my first Thanksgiving leave. I thought about how excited I was to reconnect with all my friends back home and how it was my first real chance to spend a large chunk of time at home. I dreaded going back to squaring my meals and taking out trash. That dread soon faded to a mild indifference 3/c year as I moved closer to my friends at the Academy and further away from my high school friends.

As I ride the train back from Annapolis today as a 2/c, the indifference has morphed into a small amount of excitement. I’m looking forward to seeing my friends and decorating for Christmas. As you move on at the Academy, you start to realize, generally much to your own chagrin, that the Academy becomes somewhat of a second ‘home’. Believe me, no one looks forward to waking up on Mondays, inspections or finals, but you start to get so much closer with your friends and that’s what makes going back not so bad. It’s still great to go home, as in the place you grew up, but when your time at ‘home’ is over you find that the Academy isn’t so foreign anymore. You realize that, in fact, it has also taken on some of the qualities of what ‘home’ means to people. Sure, you’re not stuffing your face with home cooked meals and sleeping until noon, but the people you were introduced to you on R-day start to become more important to you as you move on in your career. Just like you care about your parents and friends at home and want to spend time with them, the Academy creates and environment where you start to care a lot more about your classmates and friends, and that’s what makes going back not nearly as bad as it used to be.

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(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Steven Roth I think a lot of high school kids write off the Coast Guard Academy because you don’t get out much during the week and you can’t drive a car. Even Admiral Burhoe will admit he went to civilian school so he could have a car his freshman year.

What people don’t realize is that there are tradeoffs. One of the things that I realized this summer is how close I became with the people in my company while we were running around with swabs. We had to wake up at 0500 and didn’t get to bed much before 2300 for three weeks. We were all exhausted, all playing angry, and we all smelled horrible. You would think under those circumstances, we would be ripping each other’s head off. Instead, I think my cadre section is where some of my best friends of this year will come from.

I don’t think you would find that at civilian school. A very wise LT once told us, that you will never live down the hall from so many good friends again. We all live in one dorm…we all eat together…we all say hi to each other in the halls. You can’t drive a car until firstie year, but 20 years down the road, I think I will remember my classmates and the experiences I had with them, rather than the fact that I couldn’t drive.

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Cadre 2010

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Steven Roth In 48 hours I will take on one of the most unpredictable and exciting leadership challenges of my time at the Academy. Monday the 28th will start my time as cadre, waterfront cadre to be exact. Our entire class has been waiting and preparing for this for months. The command tells us we are the best trained class so far, and I’m proud of it. It’s funny looking back on when we were swabs. We thought being cadre was so easy just because they could look around. After having to spend all last week preparing and looking at the week ahead, I think everyone realizes it is probably twice as hard to be cadre. A testament to that is the fact that I am sitting in my room on a Saturday night because I’m so exhausted. That never happens here. Everyone in our class is excited to yell and scream and scare the incoming class, just like we had done to us. Being that all of my swabs are now in New London and have no way of reading this, there is one thing that makes me most proud of my class. I think, as a whole that we realize that at the end of the day, the swabs wear the same uniform that says “U.S. Coast Guard.” We all go back, completely exhausted, to a room in Chase Hall and take off our pants one leg at a time. Is 2012 going to challenge 2014? You bet. But at the end of the day, it’s nice to know that we are all on the same team, and that my class and I have the privilege of shaping and developing our new teammates.

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The World Comes to You

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Steven Roth If you walk around campus for five minutes in the spring, you are bound to hear a cadet complain about how we are “locked up” during the week and how just about everyone cannot wait for the summer. There is no doubt that spring fever is in full swing at the Academy. People decide to come here for a variety of reasons and for many of us, a little bit of adventure and the chance to see the world was on that list. The problem is, it’s hard to be adventurous when you can’t leave during the week. The thing I realized this semester is that the saving grace in being stuck here all week is that the Academy brings the world to you. The past two weeks we have had countless lectures. We had an all day ethics forum, a religious forum, and right now we are hosting “Eclipse Week,” a celebration of diversity at the Academy. Believe me, it’s easy to sleep through most of this stuff, but if you step back and take it in, you realize that there is an incredible amount to be gained.

The Academy does a great job of bringing in some of the most talented people from all over the world and if choose to pay attention, you don’t have to venture far to learn new and exciting things. I never thought I would find myself interested in Buddhism, but after the religion forum and a lecture by a woman who practiced Buddhism for 40 years, I found myself running off to Borders to find books on the subject. Contrary to popular belief, although it would be nice, you don’t have to leave the gates of the Academy to learn about the world, because the Academy makes sure to bring the world to you.

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The Spring Break to Summer Transition

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Steven Roth When you get restricted over a leave period, people say that you are going on a cruise on the Coast Guard Cutter Chase, that meaning you are staying in Chase Hall. This Spring Break, I decided to go on a cruise, on none other than the CGC Chase. Getting in trouble here stinks. Its stressful, you miss time with your family and friends, and it’s boring. Once that’s all over though, there is a lot to look forward to. One of the best opportunities here is 2/c summer.

In two short months I will be expected to lead people my age (and sometimes older) and indoctrinate them into the Coast Guard. I think the summer of your junior year really marks the transition between your development as a follower and your development as a leader. It’s an exciting time, and something I am really looking forward to. I will be a waterfront cadre, teaching swabs how to sail. I will also get the chance to qualify on our service pistol, spend two weeks sailing around coastal New England in the summer, and go to the Cadet Aviation Training Program. It’s the times like these that you realize you give up a lot to be here, but in the end the opportunities provided here far outweigh the sacrifices.

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Big School Education, Small School Feel

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Steven Roth I’m standing the watch right now known as “Admiral’s Yeomen.” Basically when your company has duty, one 3/c cadet volunteers to answer the Admiral’s phones after his usual secretary leaves. It may not seem like a big deal, but you have to wonder how many other college students get to have face time with the president of their college. The same thing goes for the classroom. I haven’t been to another college, but even in my core chemistry class two semesters ago, the class size maxed out at 30. That seems pretty good. This year, in one of my political science courses, there are eight students and two teachers. One who graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School and another who just finished his Ph.D.

The reason I came to the Academy was for its small size. The best part about that is that when you come here, you don’t sacrifice quality. The fact that there are so many resources right at your fingertips and the personal interactions you get to from your professors all the way up to the Admiral make the Academy one of the best deals around.

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What You Give, What You Get

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Steven Roth So I’m sitting in the Providence airport right now, procrastinating to the extreme. My flight leaves in about half an hour and I am sitting at the gate typing my cadet journal entry to make sure I get my last required institutional service hour before the fall semester officially draws to a close. When you’re a cadet you spend a lot of time thinking about the things you give up. For example the fact that I haven’t had time to write this until now because of finals or the fact that if I don’t continue to drink the Starbucks coffee in my hand I will be in caffeine withdrawal in about five minutes. It’s easy to think about all the things you give up as a cadet but what I realized last time I went home on leave is how far ahead in the game of life I am compared to my friends. It’s not about being better than your friends or being an elitist, it’s about seeing the big picture of life.

When you come here you don’t get into college, you get a career and that is something special for an 18 year old. It is easy to point to all the sleep and personal well-being you give up as a cadet, not being able to go out and party on Tuesday night, but it is far harder to realize how much good you do yourself in the long run and how much you will grow and develop as a person in your short time at the Academy. That’s what I think is really special about being a cadet. Anyway, my flight is boarding, time to go home for Christmas.

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End of the Semester

(Academics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Steven Roth It’s that time of the year in New London where it gets dark before your last class ends. It’s the time of the year when, as the day shortens, the academic load just seems to grow. Luckily, Thanksgiving break is right around the corner. The break is the first time since our summer leave where we get to go home and relax and recharge before finals. For me it is going to mean relaxing with friends and especially catching up on schoolwork.

My government major has been relatively manageable all semester but the week we get back seems to be a perfect storm of tests and papers. The biggest thing you’ll learn here is just to go with the flow, try your best and whatever happens, it’s not the end of the world. After Thanksgiving there will be finals, but of course after that is winter leave.

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April's Eclipse Week

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Ronaqua Russell Last month offered me one of the coolest and most stressful weeks I have had this semester. With a combination of assignments/projects due, multiple tests on the same day, etc. and the overlap of Eclipse Week made for an interesting time, too. Eclipse Week is a celebration of the diversity of the Academy, the Coast Guard and our country and it gives cadets an opportunity to interact with junior and senior officers in the Coast Guard in a more relaxed atmosphere. However, unlike last year, I was a part of the planning committee and I participated in the dance team for the talent show that occurred on Friday.

At the Academy there is never a lack of things to do, and this week there was definitely multiple things happening. With all the sports games, Eclipse events, etc. cadets had many nightly events they could attend. Although the week was academically stressful, Eclipse by far made things brighter.

The week started with a corps-wide lecture by Leigh Torrence, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints. I was fortunate enough to be able to eat lunch with him along with other officers from the Genesis Council and some of the other Diversity Councils at the Academy. He broke the mold of the stereotypical professional football player, and showed what hard work and perseverance can do. The next main event was the Junior Officers Panel which was run by 1/c Jeffares. This was not your normal panel, because there was a band playing, and its talk show nature definitely worked to relax the audience. The stories from the Officers were great, and combined with the atmosphere made for a unique panel. However, the highlight for the week was the talent show on Friday. All the acts worked hard to prepare for the show, and it definitely paid off, because the show came off as a success. The talent show allows cadets to display talents they don’t usually get to show on a daily basis here.

Saturday was a packed last day involved with a panel, a relaxed lunch accompanied with an officers vs. cadets basketball game, and for the 3/c (Sophomores), our Class Formal. One of the panels featured Kwame Jackson, who came in second in the first season of the TV show Apprentice, with Donald Trump. His speech was inspiring, and I took away a lot of motivational pieces from it. The basketball game was entertaining, because it gave the opportunity for cadets to see a very relaxed side of the officers as they yelled, cheered, and worked for their team. The night finally came to a close for my friends and me with the 3/c Formal. I did not attend my 4/c Formal last year, so I was interested to see what a formal with just my classmates would be like. It proved to be entertaining to say the least, with the food, dancing, and an impromptu dance solo by one of my classmates made for a great way to end the week!

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Approaching the Final Stretch

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Ronaqua Russell Two more full weeks of classes before finals come rolling around. As I sit at my computer listening to some calming jazz, I feel this semester went by relatively fast. There were times in the day that felt like went on forever, but that can be expected when you are sitting in one class for a little under 3 hours. However, overall I look back and wonder where the weeks went. In a few short months the class of 2014 will be here and I will be cadre.

Sometimes it seems surreal that I have been here for almost two years. It seems like just yesterday I was a 4/c squaring corners and sounding off clocks, but now I will be on the opposite end of the spectrum training the new class. I am excited for the upcoming experience as cadre as well as Cadet Aviation Training Program (CATP). All my life I have wanted to fly, and so CATP and the chance at flying has consumed my thoughts lately as well as other aspects of the summer. However, before I can enjoy the summer,I have to get through the semester. These next couple of weeks will be filled with tests, assignments, presentations, and more tests! However, these last few weekends are also filled with fun events like morale paintball, a trip to Rhode Island to eat good food from around the world, and a trip down to Virginia with the Glee Club. As long as I balance fun with work, I can make it through the semester to enjoy my Cadre Summer!!

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The Daily Grind

(Just for Fun, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Ronaqua Russell So, I have my first two tests of the semester tomorrow which I should be studying for now, but decided it was the best time for me to update my journal. (Joking :)) I studied earlier so I am not forsaking a very important part of the Academy life. Academics are something that should be a top priority. It’s hard to stay focused though, when I know I will soon be going to see Phantom of the Opera with the International Council. Every year the International Council goes to see a Broadway play, last year was Lion King and this year is Phantom of the Opera. Listening to the soundtrack of it doesn’t really help much with focusing, but being at the Academy has definitely increased my ability to multitask. There is also the possibility of it snow tomorrow; hence I have maneuvering in the snow on my mind. This might not be a problem for most people, but for a Caribbean islander such as myself, walking in snow is an interesting challenge. As long as I don’t take anybody down with me like the last time I fell in the snow, tomorrow should be a good day. Off to more studying!

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Go Coast Guard

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Ronaqua Russell Last weekend was one of the best I have had this year. The Academy Glee Club had two performances one at Foxwoods resort and the other at the Jets Game. We received a standing ovation at a program for the Special Olympics, and a stadium full of people cheering for us at the game. As we walked off the football field we could hear things like “Go Coast Guard,” as well as receiving good remarks from officers and enlisted who marched on with Sector New York. This was definitely one of those once in a lifetime experiences that I would not have had otherwise. As a cadet there are so many opportunities that we can take part in from going to a Jets game, to going to see a Broadway Play or a NHL game.

Now I sit, waiting for Thanksgiving to come so I can soak up some sunshine back home. Leave is definitely on every cadet’s mind as we have two more days of classes before we can go. A few days of relaxing, before coming back, hitting the books for a couple more weeks, and then Christmas. Happy Turkey Day!

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Rediscovering My Faith

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Schumacher I grew up always attending LCMS Lutheran church, always attending LCMS school. We had classes in high school such as “What do my neighbors believe”, but it was always a peek in,, not a walk beside these different faiths.

When I came to the Academy, I decided to do jump in to that which was offered at the Academy. I joined Protestant choir, went to the Protestant services on Sunday, and on and off went to Vespers on Wednesday evenings. I went to the first few bible studies and Officer and Christian Fellowship meetings on Friday nights. Sometimes I went to Catholic Mass. It was not what I was used to, but it worked.

The Easter of my 4/c year, I went to a Lutheran service on Easter with CDR Sorenson and his family. But it wasn’t until over 3/c summer that I rediscovered through Christ who Christ is. I had a stress fracture in my leg and was unable to go to first phase Eagle and CGC Morgenthau; instead “stuck” at Station New London on crutches, 3 miles from the Academy. But the Station let me borrow a government vehicle, and I drove myself to a small Lutheran Church, Our Redeemer, that CDR Sorenson had at one time mentioned to me and my friend, Hayley. With a weekly attendance averaging 20 people, it was much smaller than my 5-services-a-weekend church at home, but it taught God’s Word. And that was what I needed.

In the past three years, Hayley and I have frequently attended church at Our Redeemer and brought a few other cadets. Today, we invited the Fellowship of Christian Athlete members to join us as well. A few people came along, altogether six cadets adding their numbers to the small Lutheran Church. For some reason, I keep remembering when I was little and of how our bible school teacher would tell us to invite our friends to church. I always felt out of place, weird, doing something like that. Even after all of the Lutheran churching and schooling I experienced, inviting people to church just was not something that I felt comfortable doing. But the past three and a half years here have taught me a great deal about who God is. His grace, His mercy, and His love. After the service, we went to a Coast Guard Academy graduate’s house for fellowship: Dunkin donuts and coffee, orange juice, and discussion. God is very much alive and though inviting people to church is still not easy, it is something I want to do.

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School and Cross Country

(Academics, Athletics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Schumacher Now that I am well into 1/c year, I am looking into the future with one eye closed and one eye open. One part of me is ready. I enjoyed being on an 87 foot cutter and interning for Civil Engineering. I was free to do what I wanted, as long as I showed up on time and worked hard. But I have very little underway time or experience and wish I could be more qualified before I show up at my unit next summer. I want to make a good decision, to choose what I want, but it is already hard to balance all the Academy’s demands without also launching a deep investigation into what is available in the Coast Guard for me. And the sad part is that I have spent the past two months letting time fly by. It is time to open up both eyes and focus on the now.

And what I like most about the now is cross country, because I just like to run. It seems like whenever I get around to writing these journals, this is always what I talk about. Running – a recurring theme in my life. On one of my runs the other day, my running buddy and I were running on the track, with the soccer team practicing in the center field. After concentrating at school all day, neither of us could imagine memorizing plays or doing drills or skill-focused activities. I think this is why I love running. It does not require inordinate amounts of concentration, just endurance, consistency, and a mental capacity to push through. I sometimes focus on my stride or getting up a hill or drawing someone back and surging past them, but it does not require intense concentration like school. And since right now, cross country and fall coincide, it makes everything that much richer. Now, the cool breeze, falling leaves, and burnt wood smell often compliment our dash through the woods.

This year, I am doing cross country and indoor track and field. I have been swimming since I was seven, but found that I enjoy running more. I played tennis in high school, but quit that too when I came here. Sometimes I regret not having started running sooner, but I am glad that I know how to swim and play tennis, because now I can enjoy those sports just for fun. It is a blast to be able to go outside and smack tennis balls back and forth with friends after or during a stressful week of Civil Engineering classes, projects, and Excel spreadsheet creations. Or to be able to dive in the water and swim without counting laps, racing, or having to switch strokes. Next year there will be no sports practice time carved out of my day for me. Though I have no doubt I will still keep running, I am going to start running right now with two eyes open and make the most of the time I have left.

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Summer and Cross Country

(Athletics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Schumacher Over one month of school complete. I never imagined it would be this difficult to come back to school from the summer. I had doors flung open and paths that I could walk down to my heart’s content. And then I came back to school and found doors closed. Or doors slammed. Or doors that told me they would stay open. But those were almost worse because those are the doors I get to watch. I get to see. I get to long for. And hope they don’t slam shut. Or close quietly when I blink.

One of the best days of the last month was when I got a pair of XtraTuffs, the versatile Alaskan boot, in the mail. I had ordered them from Juneau, Alaska, and with them flooded in memories of wind turbines, salmon, mountains, and water. The weather has cooled off a bit in the last few days and it has rained, but I am waiting for the perfect day to wear them out. Too bad I cannot fish for salmon in the Thames River.

And though I cannot run up mountains or run down them like I did in Juneau, women’s cross country has been a blast. We have a solid team of 21 girls and super fast freshman. I feel old but I do not mind. The worst part about cross country is doing hill workouts. I mentally block hills, at least in practice. But in meets, I do not mind them one bit. I guess I do not mind doing a hill once, but hill repeats really get to me. The best part about racing is right when you are done and you get to go cool down. It is my absolute favorite, just running to run, not yet hurting or super tired, but regaining my breath and feeling strong and cool and energetic. Then, being able to go get on a bus, stop for a cup of coffee, and ride back to school with friends.

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Hot Coffee, Cool Weather

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Schumacher The summer has been terrific. This is the first time I have been to Washington state and I am positive that the Northwest was made for me with its cool weather and coffee shop ambiance. My personal favorite: when I was in Juneau, Alaska last week, we were talking about the awful heat in the Midwest and Northeast. One of the Alaskans asked, “What is a heat index?”

Currently, I am working at the Jackson Federal Building in Seattle, Washington for a civil engineering and energy internship, and there is a Starbucks across the street from two of its four corners. And more coffee shops within walking distance than I can count. There is even the original Starbucks a few blocks over from where I work. The best coffee is free coffee, though. I usually load up on the Polar Sea, the icebreaker I am living on, before I head into work.

I spent the first five weeks of my summer on an 87’ cutter, the USCGC Seafox. We went underway a few times, but mostly we worked in the morning to early afternoon and I learned the ins and outs of the ship. Since it was commissioned in 2009, it has had few problems and some things are breaking down, unlike the cutters that have been in the Coast Guard fleet for 40 years. I lived onboard and was able to learn more from the In-Port OODs at night. The In-Port OOD is the representative of the commanding officer and is in charge of the safety of the vessel, especially when everyone goes home in the evening. The Seafox let me invade their kitchen and I made a four-layer pistachio dessert, cookie bars, blueberry muffins, and biscuits. During my stay, I was given access to their government vehicle and one weekend I hiked Hurricane Ridge and the Hoh Rainforest and visited Forks with several other cadets.

The Polar Sea, on the other hand, is set to be decommissioned. When I arrived, one of the chief warrant officers showed me my room, the wardroom, and the galley, as well as laundry and the gym. I was lost; it is so big. I still have not been to the engine room, but I will make sure I do before I leave. Next year, I want to come back out to the Northwest, and an icebreaker might be on my list. They have labs onboard and usually carry science personnel. With my internship, I have been learning about the Arctic ice decline, ocean acidification, and potential mass extinction of the oceans; all pertinent to the Coast Guard future. After reflecting on my experiences this summer, I think an icebreaker might be a logical next step (especially since I like the cold). Today the heat index is supposed to be 102 in St. Louis, Missouri (my home town). No thank you.

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Opportunities and Adventures

(Academics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Schumacher I enjoy cold weather, so I have not been satisfied with the warm October and November that we are having out here in the Northeast. So what did I decide to do? I decided to go to Florida for a day. And I came back a changed/changing person.

I have been trying to find a highly interesting and exciting senior design project/independent study for almost a year now. I spent the summer thinking about it, as well as the beginning of this fall semester trying to decide between three projects that did not interest me. But at the Innovation Expo in Florida, I found the project, and now I just have to put my evolving plan into action.

The Innovation Expo is an annual Coast Guard event. It is held in a Convention Center with a large room devoted to hundreds of booths filled with anything from stations’ projects to businesses and corporations trying to sell their product to the Coast Guard. I attended the Expo in support of a senior design project promoting a greener Coast Guard through culture change and the implementation of green technology nationwide. The Expo’s theme was “green” and there was a section of the room with green carpeting and green booths. It was great. We shared the ideas with active duty and retired Coast Guard officers and found that other people were doing similar things. I found a potential summer internship for my 1/c summer in Juneau, Alaska, and I caught the green bug.

Now, I want to prove to myself that green is worth it. Some people claim that it wastes more energy than it saves or that it is more trouble than it is worth. I am not in a position to refute these people until I have done my research; thus, it is research that I intend to do. But in the meantime, I am not taking another plastic bag from the store when I have twenty in my drawer and three reusable bags in my closet.

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Doing Things I Always Wanted To Do

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Schumacher I was enjoying the cooler weather this month, until the humidity came back full force the past few days. I am ready for fall with the colorful leaves and fifty degrees, when I can wear pants and a long sleeve shirt on runs. We have been back a month and a half now and I tried something different this semester. I am trying to do things I have always wanted to do, but have never done because I have never set aside the time. I am taking five major-related classes and tennis and I have more time than usual, especially as we do not have nightly homework in every class.

With my "extra" time, I decided to do more community service. I started off with doing a Habitat for Humanity project one Saturday with one of my friends. We walked to a building site in New London and helped build a house. I got to cut, measure, and nail gun wood for support inside the house. The nail gun took a little getting used to (really, a lot of getting used to) but when I do it next time I will obviously be a pro!

I have also always wanted to help at an elementary school tutoring students. Often, we have opportunities provided after school (but during sports period) to go tutor. But as I do a sport year round, I have never gone. This year, I contacted Winthrop Elementary, a public school five minutes from the Academy, and have been going there for an hour once or twice a week to help fourth graders during reading time. It is the weirdest thing going from Fluid Mechanics class (gradients, pressure, flow, derivatives) to reading from the Time Warp Trio, helping pronounce words such as “Pharaoh”, and sharpening broken pencils. I wish I could go more often and help students with math and science as well. Maybe after the Coast Guard.

September comes to an end, but there is only one week until Parent’s Weekend! And then, Thanksgiving and Christmas are not far off.

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Summer Training

(Athletics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Schumacher After three weeks solid of swab summer cadre, I shifted gears back into school mode for one week as I spent seven hours a day learning Rules of the Road, or, more commonly ROTR. It is like driver’s ed., but for boats. A fishing and a sailing vessel are meeting…who has the right of way? What stern lights do a vessel show if it is towing alongside, inland? When is a special flashing light used? By the second day, my head hurt and by the end of the week, my brain was stuffed. It felt great to pass the test Friday morning.

Then I wrapped up my summer with Luders, a two week sailing program to learn about leadership, life skills, and being underway. I was on the Blue Goose (one of the four Luder boats) with LT Kennedy, our safety officer, and six other cadets. The first two days were spent learning how the boat handled under power and sail and to introduce us to what life we would be like the next ten days underway. We went to BJs and stocked up on 54 pack cracker snack packs, muffins, meat, cheese, crackers, fruit snacks, and various other snacks to supplement our meals. I have never bought so much snack food.

We sailed around the northeast to Mystic, Block Island, Cuddyhunk, Wood’s Hole, Oak Bluffs, Newport, and Stonington and I learned to appreciate sailing. I loved it when we were keeled over on a close haul and were experienced enough to tack quickly back and forth with little to no delay. My favorite was the day we were going to anchor for the night outside of Wood’s Hole. I was helm, which was in and of itself awesome. We stopped for lunch and a wild swim call and proceeded to our anchorage, attaching to another Luder for the night. We were ready for dinner and more swimming, until we were told to go back out. We continued on to Wood’s Hole to moor up for the night as we had a problem with our sewage. Nearing dark, with the tides and current at their worst, I steered through the tight passage to Wood’s Hole. It was dangerous and an adrenaline rush like none other, but we made it through safely, moored up for the night and went to a café for dinner as a boat. Then, I had caramel cashew crunch ice cream, which was really good. After that I went to sleep on deck beneath a sky full of stars.

The next morning, I worked out in the gym facility at the Coast Guard base and assisted the cook and mess cook of the day in preparing an assortment of gourmet pancakes for breakfast. Extra ingredients included oatmeal, peanut butter, bananas, and white and semi-sweet chocolate chips. They were breakfast as well as our snack for the day on the boat. A successful entrance, night, and breakfast. Good Luder memories.

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CATP and T-Boats

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Schumacher I am not a fan of snakes. Two weeks ago, several cadets and I went down to Mobile, Alabama for CATP (our Cadet Aviation Training Program), which introduced us to the aviation side of the Coast Guard. There was little flight time available, as the base is part of Deepwater Horizon. In one short week, I acclimated to one of the most humid environments I had ever experienced. Bring on Swab Summer! It will never be as hot as it was down there.

During the week, I had plenty of free time to work out, and they had a nice bike/hike/run trail with signs every few feet stating “Caution, snakes present.” I did not think too much of this the first time I went running by myself. I did not see snakes, or any other wildlife for that matter. Fine with me. The next time I went running, I went with a friend. She saw the signs, but I informed her I had not seen any snakes and not to worry, especially at 1400 in the afternoon when the sun is baking everything alive. It was a crazy time to run, and a crazier time for a snake to be out and about. As we set our water bottles and I-pods on the bench, she shrieked, side hopped, and pointed. A large, black snake slithered away, ten feet from us. And she stepped on one when we actually started running. And she found one in a tree the next time we went running. My heart stopped for a split second each time, but her reaction always made me laugh for the next five minutes of the run.

I do not like jellyfish either. This week, I am on T-boats. We go down to the Academy pier and ten cadets and one instructor are on each T-boat. I am on the training vessel Honor. On day one, we learned about the different spaces on the T-boat and about how to turn the generator and engine on and prepare to get underway. Between yesterday and today, we practiced mooring and unmooring, man overboard drills, and weighing anchor. We were out from 1000 to 1430 today, having lunch onboard, as well as fishing and swimming. This was the coolest day all week, but some of us still decided to jump in the water and attempt to have a good time in the cold water. Most of us just jumped off; my roommate did a flip. The people onboard kept watch for the white jellyfish with red centers. When the jellies got too close, it was a mad swim for Jacob’s ladder.

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Mission to the Dominican Republic

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Schumacher Spring Break is finally here, nine entire days to forget about school work and the Academy. And to make it even better, I am in the Dominican Republic on a mission trip. We drove to JFK airport early Saturday morning and flew Jet Blue to Santo Domingo, DR. Then, we took a six hour bus ride to Banica to stay for a day in an established mission with electricity, running water, and beds. Monday morning, we were ready to head into the mountains and start building a church from the ground up.

The trip was bumpy. And not just a little bit. The roads so far had been paved, but weren’t smooth and most of us were sitting in the back of a big truck with piles of backpacks and all of the gear we brought underneath us. We went up and down, up and down hills and all of the bags would shift. We picked up a young girl walking along the side of the road and gave her a ride. She was beautifully dressed in white and blue and my friend, Sarah, gave her a lollipop and peanuts; the girl’s eyes lit up with happiness.

We only had to drive 25 miles or so, but the ride took two and a half hours because of all of the hills and bumps. We arrived at Billiguin, a little bruised and nauseated, but ready to go. We unloaded our luggage into an already built church church where we would be sleeping and eating and then we headed off for another half hour ride to the site where we would build. The men from the community were already hard at work clearing the brush away and digging holes for the posts for the frame of the building. We helped pull the dirt out of the holes and made sure they were deep enough.

We brought food to be made, and one of the ladies at the site cooked the beans, rice, and sardinas for us. She cleaned bowls and spoons and made sure we all had places to sit and were comfortable. They had two tiny little dogs. In our limited Spanish, we asked what their names were, but she said they did not have names, that they were just “perro uno” and “perro dos”. Orlando named one Orlando, and we named the other one Beethoven.

After lunch, I went on my first sand run. We would be laying concrete for the walls of the church, as well as a concrete slab for the floor. We had concrete and a river nearby for water, but the best place to get sand was a half hour away. The water was cool and the truck backed into the river so we could shovel the sand right in. We worked for two hours or so and then took the sand back to the worksite to dump. On the way back to where we would be staying the night, God gave us another beautiful gift; a beautiful sunset against the red, brown, and green hues of the mountains in the Dominican Republic.

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Cadet Dinner Theater

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Just for Fun, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Schumacher Almost the end of February and midterm tests and projects due before Spring Break. Tonight I went to the Cadet Dinner Theater at the O’Club followed by the cadet musical, Once Upon a Mattress. It was so cold, and DDB’s (Dinner Dress Blues) are not warm. My friends and I crowded into the entrance of the O’Club to keep out of the cold and took pictures as we waited to be seated. The tables were lovely with black tablecloths, red napkins, and red rose petals, which sadly, we discovered were fake. We were in for another surprise, as the water was passed around the table. A huge gulp later, I discovered that it was club soda, not water. Umm, no; I will have tea, thank you. We had some sort of lobster soup, a salad with nuts and craisins on top, a piece of chicken with rice and asparagus for the main course, and a crepe with ice cream and peaches as dessert. And not to forget the best part of the meal – the coffee! After an hour and a half of eating and socializing, we were dismissed to see the musical. Another surprise awaited us as we exited the O’Club. It was amazing, better than the coffee! (Well, it is actually a hard call there) Huge snowflakes were falling all around and I had to get someone to take our picture. In heels and with slick snow and icy sidewalks beneath, the gentle slope down to Leamy Hall was a disaster waiting to happen, as my father would say. But, phew, I think everyone made it down safely.

Once Upon a Mattress is based on the fairy tale of The Princess and the Pea. I like musicals and was impressed by the cadet performance. It had been a busy week and long day. I really just wanted to go to sleep, but the actors and the songs kept my interest. The added Coast Guard humor made parts hilarious! If I was not such an avid athlete, I would love to participate in the musical, but it takes as much time as a sport during the winter months! Snow, coffee, friends, music, and lots of laughs; practically perfect.

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The First Day of Classes

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Schumacher Today is the first day of classes spring semester, third class year. My friend and I took “first day of school” pictures this morning to always remember this day. We have already been back a week from Christmas break, which now seems ages ago. I went home for just over a week and then down to Florida on a swim training trip with the Academy the next week, where the weather was not hot, but still in the sixties and seventies every day. It is a little colder here in Connecticut.

Last week, I switched rooms and roommates, bought my new books (Business Statistics, Invitation to Oceanography, and The Atmosphere) and pulled out the books I already had. I went to trainings almost every day, and tried to switch my schedule around, but that was impossible. There was little to do the first week; Captain Fitzgerald did grant us liberty on Tuesday and Thursday evening and I walked with a small group to Dunkin’ Donuts those nights.

Even with this as the first day of class, I am looking forward to Spring Break! So close and yet so far away. I usually go on a Spring Break trip with my father and younger sister. But this year, I am going to the Dominican Republic organized by the Catholic Chaplain here at the Academy. A group of twelve cadets, plus the Chaplain and another officer stationed at the Academy are going there for a week to build a church, play with the kids, talk to the families, witness our faith, and learn and grow about ourselves and others.

We had a team meeting yesterday at Father Mode’s house with chili and nachos and team bonding. We covered what to expect in the Dominican Republic, what we should pack, and what poverty really is and how this trip might affect us. We will probably be eating beans and rice all week and have limited access to a shower and bathroom, but bathing in the river sounds like more fun! And almost everything I pack is going to stay in the Dominican Republic.

It is all going to be very different, but I have gotten my typhoid, tetanus, and first of three rabies vaccines (two more to come soon!). And by the time Spring Break rolls around, I hope to be not only physically prepared, but mentally and spiritually also.

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We Sometimes Forget

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Schumacher You forget. I forget. We all forget. I have so much on my mind between classes, military duties, swim practice, and daily “need to get dones” that I forget. I worry about a test that didn’t go as planned; I whine about a shipmate who didn’t follow through; I forget why I am here.

go home for Thanksgiving. I see family and relatives I have not seen in four – five – six years. I catch up on Time magazine – I read about Fort Hood, about PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) in current soldiers and Navy Seals, and I am thanked four times on my flight by the same Southwest Airlines flight Attendant.

And I remember.

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Nice October Days

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Schumacher October 4, 2009

I did not get too much sleep this weekend, as I had guardmount and dismount for JCDO (Junior Cadet Duty Officer) Saturday and Sunday. This meant I had to get up before 0700 Saturday and Sunday morning, when I am usually allowed to sleep in later. Oh well. I did most of my homework on Saturday because I could not leave the Academy while on duty. I went out today instead. I walked to church off-base with a friend, came back to the Academy, and then left to walk to lunch with another group of friends.

A half hour walk away from the Academy is a long stretch of road that has every fast food restaurant imaginable. We went to Taco Bell and Wendy’s, picked up food, and took it across the street to sit outside under the umbrellas of Rita’s. After finishing our main course, we went inside Rita’s for a delicious treat that everyone at the Academy raves about. Their specialty is their “Water Ice” which is similar to Italian Ice and they make rather unique flavors such as cake batter and Swedish fish. I tried a sample of pumpkin, amazing. I ordered a pumpkin Gelati, which had a layer of vanilla custard on the bottom, pumpkin water ice in the middle, and more vanilla custard on top. It was like eating fall in a cup with an extra long plastic spoon. Between the food, the company, and the walking, it was a perfect four hour lunch away from the Academy.

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Catching Up Over Parents Weekend

(Just for Fun, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Schumacher September 27, 2009

This weekend, Parent’s Weekend, is probably my favorite weekend at the Academy. Starting early Friday morning, September 25th, parents came to watch us drill, to attend classes, and to eventually take their cadet away for the weekend. My parents and sister started driving at 0300 on Thursday morning and pulled into their hotel around 2300 that night, an easy twenty hour car ride. They were there for part of drill practice and then followed me around for the morning to my classes, left for my afternoon classes (the teachers scheduled tests for this day of all days), and came back to watch cross country practice. We went to Chili’s for dinner and talked, talked on the way to our hotel, and my sister and I went on a late night walk and talk under the stars. I slept in a queen bed for over eight hours Friday night, and then about ten hours Saturday night.

It is always interesting to bring two separate worlds together, in this case, my home world and my Academy world. I took my family to Eagle on Saturday afternoon; showing them a place I had spent six weeks of my summer on was almost surreal. I am so busy with cadet life that I do not call or correspond with my family as much as I would like, but the weekend gave me a chance to catch up with my family, which is exactly what I needed to do.

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Blazing Forward

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Schumacher August 29, 2009

A tuna sandwich and chips – a second lunch, and now my stomach is full of dinner - lasagna, fresh garlic toast, garden salad, and to top it all off, a brownie sundae with whipped cream and peanut butter chips. I have only been back at school for two weeks and we just finished our first week of classes, but I am so happy to be at my host family’s house today and rest for a few hours, away from the Academy. The rain from the hurricane came today, so we were not able to go outside and swim. And now, as daylight ends, I am watching Gran Torino, doing what I do best: multi-tasking.

I had an awesome summer, even though I was only a few miles away from the Academy at Station New London for the first five weeks. It was amazing to work with new people and I gained more respect and appreciation for what the Coast Guard does for America. It was probably my coldest summer in a while, as the station was cold and rainy, rarely above seventy degrees. Eagle was warm in Bermuda and Charleston, but besides that, fog, rain, and cold, jacket-worthy temperatures followed us through to Maine. The day we pulled into Maine, it rained from early morning, through special sea detail into port, until seven or so that night. We went out on liberty in our Coast Guard parkas – comfort beats style. Even on my three weeks of leave in St. Louis, the days were not as hot as in previous years, and my tan is definitely lacking.

I was excited to come back to the Academy and see everyone after their summers, but the three weeks at home went by too quickly as they always do. I have many responsibilities this year. I am beginning introductory classes for civil engineers and I am part of the Cadet Training Division which sets up morning and evening trainings during the week as well as Saturday morning trainings. I am also learning to take on the role of mentor to the new fourth class.

I am more excited to be back, now that we have these first two weeks behind us. Hopefully, we can put the incidences of the summer behind us and blaze forward with a positive attitude, back onto the right trail. It is our goal to make the Academy a better place for now, and for the future. It never ceases to amaze me how much I learn from my shipmates everyday and how much I have learned to care for them. And the best part, the greatest part about being back is that I can walk up and down the hallways in any fashion I choose, saying hello as I pass by my shipmates.

(The new picture is my favorite from the summer – I took it on Eagle, on our voyage from South Carolina to Boston.)

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Communications Watchstander

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Schumacher May 26, 2009

Classes ended. Then final exams in Dimick and on 5th deck Roland. With the school year at a close, a new phase began as our class was shipped to every corner of the United States and to Spain. I was supposed to go on the first phase of Eagle, but due to a stress fracture in my leg, I needed to stay a little closer to the Academy. Actually, about five minutes from it. That is why I am here at Station New London.

I was disappointed. The scenery did not change too much; the Thames River is still right outside and the same stores nearby. But the atmosphere has changed; the station is not like the Academy. I have met so many new people and settled into a different lifestyle that the last couple of weeks have been both educational and enjoyable.

School was about finding integrals, the composition of organic compounds, and the reasons we entered World War II. At the station, I have learned to keep contact with Coast Guard boats underway through the radio, how to make a line, and the features of a survival vest. The first two weeks or so, I worked on becoming Communications Watchstander qualified: learning how to properly answer phone calls, make pipes over the intercom, and maintain contact with the Coast Guard forty-one and twenty-five foot small boats underway.

Today I passed my board and am now an official Communications Watchstander. Now, instead of working everyday, I work two days and then am off for two (a normal station schedule). Since I don’t have a car, I’m planning on working most of my off days to get more experience. I stopped using the crutches I have had for the last three weeks today. I still “gimp”, but I am practicing to walk straight. Hopefully I can go out on the small boats soon.

Yesterday was Memorial Day and my section had duty. Not much was happening so the crew put together a morale event in the evening with basketball and then a barbecue with hamburgers, chips, corn, and watermelon.

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This Hurdle

(Athletics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Schumacher April 5, 2009

Probably, possibly the best and worst weekend of my life. Usually, I look forward to the weekend, but this weekend was one many fourth class did not look forward to. Instead of waiting until Sunday night to buckle down, do homework, and prepare for the next week, most fourth class studied for Sunday night boards all weekend. The fourth class takes “boards,” which is an oral test in front of upper class to demonstrate their knowledge about aspects of the Coast Guard learned throughout the course of the year. It signifies that we are ready to move up to third class. But with all of the school work, it was difficult to get an early start and with other homework and sports this weekend, schedules were packed. It was funny to see that all the fourth class who came down to watch the track meet on Saturday also had the forty-eight pages of study material in hand.

I did go on liberty Saturday night after the track meet with my ex-roommate and we bought baskets, candy, and various other things for Easter. It was de-stressing, but information continued to run through our heads like “What does the Oscar flag look like and what does it mean?” Today, I did not really “relax” either, but I did sit outside on a bench to study for part of an hour. It was beautiful!

Even with all of the stress and emotions, the work and the late nights, the weekend was amazing because of everything we accomplished. Softball is slaughtering their competition with the help of some excellent fourth class and our track team did well on Saturday despite the WINDY and slightly chilly weather. I ran the 5K, which is currently my favorite event and going around one of the turns, the wind pushed back on me so hard I thought that I might as well stop because I was not getting anywhere. But the effort paid off and with the helpful cheers, I dropped thirty seconds. And then, tonight I passed boards. Sitting in the wardroom, waiting to go to a room with a first and two second class in it and take my board, was probably the most stressful experience of my life. Not all of Golf passed, but we did have the highest pass percent rate of all the companies! Now we just need to help everyone else pass and hopefully by the end of this week, all fourth class will have conquered this hurdle.

Only four weeks until summer.

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Spring Break and Coming Back

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Schumacher March 9, 2009

Last year I couldn’t wait to go to Spain on a school trip for spring break. This year, I am just happy to be home and spend some time with my family. Saturday night I attended an art show that displayed two pieces of my older sister’s art and yesterday I attended my younger sister’s choral performance, two things I am usually unable to do. Today and tomorrow, I plan on just lounging around the house, sleeping, watching television, and then meeting my mother for lunch. Since she is an accountant, spring break is never a good time for her. I might go shopping and then I have to go to Sonic. The Coast Guard Academy does not have “slushies” or “icees” as we call them, so one of the best places at home to get a frozen drink is at Sonic. And from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., their drinks are half price. So with a real fruit lemon berry slush in hand, I am going to go pick up my younger sister from high school and run with her at track practice.

March 12, 2009

Yesterday I woke up at 3:50 a.m. (on purpose) to begin a road trip with my dad that would eventually bring me back to the archways of the Academy. We drove all the way from St. Louis to colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. I thought our weather in Missouri was weird, but Virginia was something else. We walked around colonial Williamsburg last night around 9:00 and according to our car, the temperature was 78 degrees! I was sweating in my short sleeve shirt and jeans! But today, I woke up to go for a quick morning run and it was wet and cold; probably around 40 degrees.

In Williamsburg today, we were grateful for the shops and houses that offered a little bit of warmth. Some “colonials” had fires in their backyards. The two places we spent the most time in were the woodworking shop and the bindery. One of the book binders we talked to had been an apprentice in England for seven years to learn this trade. He has been a book binder for the past forty years like both of his parents before him. We went on to the woodworking shop for about an hour, as my dad has his own workshop in our basement and enjoys talking about wood and furniture with the professionals. The men there were very talented and I was especially intrigued by the eagle chair with arms that morphed into eagle’s heads at the ends. (At first, I thought they were snakes.)

March 15, 2009

It wasn’t as difficult to come back to the Academy today as it was at Christmas with the “Dark Ages” to look forward to. Though we have mock boards and boards, two more Chemistry and Calculus Tests, as well as tests in other classes, and at least two more formal room and wings, I keep reminding myself: only six more weeks. Six more weeks until fourth class year is over and summer training, whether it be Eagle or a cutter, begins. And then we will be third class and have our own fourth class to look after.

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101st Night and the Swimming Championship

(Athletics, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Schumacher Thursday, February 5, 2009

Every time I look down I cannot believe the date. We’ve been back from Christmas for over a month and yet it seems like only a few days. The weather has been a rollercoaster, freezing and snowy to warm and breezy leaving the feeling that spring might be coming. But not yet. Only one more swim meet and then track starts. I cannot wait to run distance again because I absolutely loved running cross country in the fall. (Even though running in circles around a track is not quite the same as running up what seems to be a mountain or sloshing through mud and evading tree roots.)

Monday, February 10, 2009

I missed 101st night on Sunday. I had mixed feelings about not going, but with swimming championships coming up, our coach scheduled practice for that time so we would not get IT’d (Incentive Training) or anything. I guess I did not miss too much because all I heard was it was like Swab summer for an hour and a half – the indoc, the yelling, and running, push-ups, and sit-ups. I know one person who threw up and another who blacked-out, but everyone made it through and it was worth it to earn carry-on for today.

So today was 100th day, the day fourth and second class switch roles. I did not enjoy being a second class, I just liked not being a fourth class. The second class pretended to be us, but they did a pretty miserable job (as they intended). They wore mismatched uniforms to morning formation and woke us up at reveille similar to how they did it in swab summer, only this time they screamed things like, “Ma’am, ma’am, you have to get up now ma’am.” But we were given the rights of second class as well, so we did not have to brace up and we could actually talk in the passageways instead of hurrying into rooms to accomplish this. And we could walk down the center of the stairs! The center! (You never realize how much transit time that takes off).

A taste of the future, now carry-on is gone and we have to earn it.

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I Love Days Like This

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Schumacher Saturday, January 10, 2009

I love days like this – the day of formal room and wing. The official formal room and wing lasts from 0800 to 0900 on Saturday mornings, but the cleaning starts around Thursday through late Friday night (into the wee hours of Saturday morning). I didn’t like standing at attention this morning, waiting for my room to be inspected and anxious about the results. But I did like taking a four hour nap after liberty was granted and going out on liberty having finished the most grueling cleaning one may ever do. It is sort of like handing a research paper into your professor, or finishing a test and then being allowed to let your brain relax. I don’t like cleaning that much, but it’s funny how good of a time we have. Not only do we have to clean our rooms, but fourth class clean “common spaces” as well. I usually help clean the bathrooms, and since there are only five fourth class girls in my company, the guys help us clean our bathrooms. With the radio blasting, we sing, we clean, and we dance. I must say that I get more out of the bonding of cleaning a bathroom than I get out of physically cleaning and wiping down the walls and the toilets. And there is nothing like starting out the new semester by winning first place! Hoorah Gee-olf Company!

Monday, January 19, 2009

It’s been so cold outside! And in the two weeks since we have been back from Christmas break, we actually have had snow! We are currently in the time referred to as the “Dark Ages” – everyone is supposed to be somewhat depressed and gloomy after returning from Christmas break and being forced back into the school year. (The short days don’t help either!) But I am actually finding that this semester I am more confident and filled with a little more hope as we have some time off each month (except in April) and by May we have a week left of finals before summer training begins. I didn’t get to take the long weekend (for Martin Luther King’s Day) because I had a swim meet yesterday, but I am at my friend Rebecca’s host family’s house today and I went out on liberty Friday night. On Friday, we went to the mall, and then walked to Olive Garden and ate. It was ridiculously cold, snowy, and late and we were trying to make the bus at Target at 10:20. If not, we would be stuck for another hour with nowhere to shop, as all the stores were closed for the evening. We cut it close…too close. As we stepped out of Olive Garden, we saw the libo van at Target and watched it as it slowly drove away. We “ran”…the libo van would leave and cross the highway to the shopping center with Michael’s and Borders and then back down to the intersection we were running toward before heading on. My friend, Katie, was ahead, with her bags, purse and extra breadsticks from Olive Garden in hand, running through a patch of fresh snow. Suddenly, there were breadsticks strewn across the snow; the bag broken. I swiped the bread off the ground and we arrived at the corner as the van was slowing – out of breath, frozen cold, laughing hysterically, and so happy that we had made it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

We had a comedian come tonight. It was pretty interesting…not the show in and of itself but the whole idea and presentation. The comedians were “funny”, but the funniest thing about the night was as we say in English class…they appealed to the wrong audience. Things “normal college students” find hilarious, we didn’t find particularly humorous. For instance, since we have such a serious honor concept, making fun of someone being disrespectful or someone cheating is not particularly funny – someone here could get kicked out for that.

The funny stuff was the ad lib from us the true audience, bringing in our pasts and the things we all could relate to and thought was funny, smallpox for example. A writer writes for an audience…he knows his audience inside and out if he is good. Though I know this is a little drastic for a comedian who wants to tell a couple of jokes, get a few laughs, and boost our moods, it is the truth. We have our own stupid things we laugh at here that no one else would dream of. The comedians found it funny that we laughed at things that no other audience had ever laughed at.

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Thanksgiving 2008

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2012) Permanent link
 Katie Schumacher I was glad to go home to St. Louis, Missouri for Thanksgiving – so much happened in the five months since the beginning of summer to Thanksgiving leave. The number one question I was asked by my family and friends is, “Well, do you like it?” I had told them about Swab Summer yelling, the running and the push-ups, and thinking I did not have the strength to continue. I had told them of the over twenty hour academic load, of the continual squaring corners and food, of military training, and of staying up to 2300, 2400, 0100 to finish homework. And I ask myself, “Well, do I like it?”

I remember how much I learned, how far I was able to push myself over Swab Summer, and how many new things I learned in class from Maneuvering Boards in Nautical Science I to the Vietnam War in Honors English. And for all the times, whether I am pumped and excited or work begins to wear me down, I have the people. I have great friends from running cross country and swimming, from singing in Protestant Choir and going to church. I had a wonderful company over Swab Summer and over the school year filled with fourth class to talk to and friends who came over for homework help or to work on group projects. And best of all I have a roommate who will stay up to 2300, 2400, 0100, with me and I with her. It is the people I will always remember.

So when family and friends ask, “Well, do you like it?” I can say, seemingly against all odds, “I love it.” I keep a positive attitude and am an active participant in the Coast Guard Academy. This is why I am happy to be a journalist; I want to share my unique perspectives and experiences.

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