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cadet blogs

Here's to the Classes of 2016 and 2018

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Roesch Photo Well, I’ve finally returned from a refreshing three weeks of leave at home. It was great to spend time with my family and get some much needed sleep! I spent a lot of time at the beach soaking up the sun, hiking, traveling, and having no schedule. But, as always, leave flies by and in the blink of an eye you’re back in Chase Hall. And, of course, I come back only to find out I’m senior 2/c for Echo this week – there is never a dull moment here! However, coming back from this break was easy; I’m returning to 2/c summer! This summer has so many exciting aspects. For one, the class of 2016 finally has the civilian clothing privilege which is the BEST. Each week brings a different exciting training all dedicated to making us better leaders and more prepared to be officers in the Coast Guard. Most importantly, we are cadre for the incoming swabs (freshman). This is something I’ve looked forward to since my days back at prep school. Words can’t express how excited I am to train the Class of 2018. I know it will be a great experience for me and all of 2016.


It’s always sad to leave home and my family, but I’m excited and ready to take on the training and responsibilities this summer has in store for me. It’s been a long, tough, and trying road this far into my Academy career, but it has been so worth it. As hard as it may have been, I’m genuinely happy, comfortable, and incredibly thankful to all who have helped me get to this point. Here’s to the Class of 2016 and all we are about to take on. Also, here’s to the Class of 2018…we can’t wait for you to get here… :)


As always, e-mail me with any questions you may have at


More about Allie.


Summer Update

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Belanger Photo Well, it has been a while since I wrote a blog! So much has happened since my last update. First and foremost, congratulations to the Class of 2014! They finally made it! The class that was my cadre graduated! It is entirely too strange to think that I am now only two years away from my commission. But something even stranger is the fact this summer I will take on the role as cadre for the incoming Class of 2018. Last year I wrote a blog as a 3/c on how to survive Swab Summer and now I’m going to give a few more tips from the cadre perspective.


1. Just follow instructions. Everything we tell you has a purpose. Whether it applies to safety, uniform standards, etc. We will not waste time giving you information that has no point in the matter.


2. Sound off. WE WANT YOU TO BE LOUD! We are going to be loud so please be loud also. You may start to lose your voice, (I did the first day of my Swab Summer) but this just means you are using your throat instead of your diaphragm. Make the adjustment and continue to be loud.


3. Don’t give up! You can do much more than you think. You can always run farther, you can always do those extra push ups. We have safety measures in place so you do not get hurt. If we see you pushing too hard we will stop you. Just try with all your might and never say “I can’t.”


4. Embrace the Coast Guard Core Values. You will learn them on the very first day. Do not lie to your cadre. Respect yourself, your shipmates, and your cadre. We all will work together one day in the fleet. You will end up disliking some of us throughout the summer; however just remember we only act this way for seven weeks throughout the entire 200 week program.


5. Memorize, memorize, memorize. There is a lot to learn. You will get frustrated, but you can do it. I struggled during CGAS learning indoc until I found a way that worked. When I came back for Swab Summer I applied the same technique and it made my summer much more enjoyable.


6. Remember this is only seven weeks long. You can do it. All of my class has faith in each and every one that enters through these doors. We will not hold grudges, single people out, or make your life difficult. We are training you to be members of the United States Coast Guard. It will be challenging. It is demanding. But there are a countless number of officers that have made it through the program. You have this, take a deep breath, reset and drive on. One quote that the Army has is “Drink water and drive on.”


7. The last note isn’t a tip but….just remember, we have been waiting for this moment for two years now…and we are ready for you.


You will be trained by the GREAT CLASS OF 2016, so good luck Class of 2018!


Got a question? Email me!


More about Nathan.


Welcome Class of 2018

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Ellis Photo To the Class of 2018,


Congratulations on being accepted to the Coast Guard Academy! This is just the start of the many challenges that you will face here. You will begin your journey in a few days and you will quickly learn what it is like to be pushed to your limits every day and how you need to adapt. Swab Summer will allow you to grow as a person, teach you to work as a team, and prepare you for life as a cadet and as a future officer in the United States Coast Guard. There will be days when you are tired and think you won’t be able to go on – but you can. Don’t give up; remember why you chose to come here. It could be because of the free education, or because your parents wanted you to, or because you want to become a leader, or because you want to become an officer. Whatever your reason is, use it to help you push through the hardships you will face.


If I could offer you just one piece of advice to get you through this summer, it is that Swab Summer is a mental game. Nothing will be too hard to accomplish, it will only be difficult in your mind. Everything that you will be tasked with will have been done before – by thousands of people before you. You can do it! The great Class of 2016 has been preparing to train you since we arrived as swabs two years ago – going through Swab Summer ourselves, passing boards, receiving demerits and learning our lessons, going out into the fleet, and surviving the academic year. We hope to help you become prepared for the academic and military lifestyle that comes with being a Coast Guard cadet. One last thing, GOOD LUCK and the Class of 2016 can’t wait for you to arrive!


More about Kayla.


Not Every Cadet Gets a Direct Appointment

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Quintero Photo It has come to my attention that a lot of people are interested in prep school (the Scholars program). If the Academy didn’t give you an appointment (accepted you) there is a slight chance you may be given the opportunity to attend one of the two prep schools either at Marion or Georgia.


Should you not get a scholarship for the scholars program, you always have the option to be a “self-prep”. Self-preps are a rare breed of individuals that enroll themselves in a prep school and pay the tuition out of pocket with the hopes of getting good grades, reapplying to the Academy and earning their appointment. My roommate at prep school, who is now one of my best friends, was a self-prep. The reality is that it could be financially demanding and full of uncertainty because you don’t know if you will get an appointment. What self-preps usually do is apply to different academies with the hopes of one accepting them. For example, my buddy applied to the Naval Academy, Merchant Marine Academy and CGA. He got into MMA and CGA and ultimately chose CGA. Self-preps will usually take the same courses as the other preps and will also do the same extracurricular activities and physical training. If I had to guess, I would say at least four self-preps are accepted every year.


You don’t always have to attend a military prep school after high school to earn your appointment. I’ve seen people take all different routes. Some decide to attend a community college or state school for a year or two and find out if college is not for them and then apply to the Academy. You just have to make sure that you take challenging courses and perform well. Another route you could take is to go enlisted and then apply for the Academy after serving a few years. OCS (Officer Candidate School) is also always an option.



More about Carlos.


Week 3: Rapid Relief

(The Cadet Experience, Life as a Junior Officer, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Sherman Photo Week three went even faster than week two (and I said that was fast)—not to mention that due to the holiday (Memorial Day), we only had a four day week. The week was spent mostly preparing to take over my collateral duties from the lieutenant junior grade (LTJG) who was departing at the end of the week for a new unit. There were a few other side projects here and there, but I mostly worked on preparing the memos (letters of designation) that would formalize the record of my duties. Most of the memos were easy and straight forward, but the one I worked on for the communications officer relief was a bit more involved. I had to become familiar with the work being done and what needed to be done by the communications division onboard the ship as well as know the status of required drills and inspections.


Like many projects, the majority of the work ended up taking place on Friday, the last day that the officer was here. It was a whirlwind but everything got completed on time. I still have much to learn about my responsibilities but thankfully the members of the crew in the division are willing to help. I know enough to stand as their division officer, which is a pretty exciting experience. It just so happens that there is a gap between the departure of one officer and the arrival of her replacement, so in the interim, I get to fill in! It doesn’t always happen like that for other 1/c cadets on other cutters. What a great preview of the year to come and my first few years as an officer!


A highlight for this week was on Wednesday when Andy and I joined members of the cutter’s law enforcement team at their boarding officer training. They were reviewing the handcuffing and escort techniques we learned in Personal Defense II at school. It was great to see that we were learning the same techniques they teach in the fleet. There were some escorts that we hadn’t learned yet, and the instructors had a few tips for making the ones we had learned more effective. We basically had several personal instructors, which was a much better learning environment than a large class at school.


And as usual, I’ll conclude with a leadership lesson for this week. Again, it’s difficult to pin one thing down. I think the lesson that I learned that stood out to me the most was not quite one about leadership, but more about being a good manager. This week showed me some best practices for passing off assignments and duties to successors. Most importantly, I realized that during this relief process I should start preparing for the next relief process when I pass off the responsibilities. In this case, of course, that will be in a few weeks, but something to remember for next year is that with my collateral duties, I should keep good notes about what I did and when and how so that I can remember the details and intricacies of the duty right off the bat and not here and there. A well-organized collateral binder is super helpful, as I found out this week.


That’s all for now, but I’ll be writing again before I know it!


(I didn’t like that we got to go out to lunch in civvies when the rest of the crew was working hard, it was hot, and they didn’t get libo…sigh, military)



More about Justin.


Summer Training: Rules of the Road

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Stowes Photo Summer training continues here at the Coast Guard Academy. My section, cadre 1a, was at the Academy last week for Rules of the Road (ROTR) training. To be honest, ROTR is one of the more difficult things to explain to people outside of the Coast Guard. I usually say that ROTR is kind of like drivers ed, but for ship driving instead of cars. The ROTR book (which is what we were trained on all week) is like a legal document, which describes the proper action to be taken to avoid collisions at sea; however, there are many other parts of the book in addition to collision avoidance.


The purpose of the ROTR training is to pass a deck watch officer exam at the end of the week. As officers, we will all qualify as underway officer of the deck (OOD) at some point, and it is the OOD’s responsibility to ensure safe navigation of the ship. The ROTR exam was a 50-question, closed book test, and we needed a 90% to pass! The test covers over 200 pages of material, including: lights and day shapes (on vessels); conduct of vessels in sight of each other; conduct of vessels in restricted visibility; and much more. To add to the challenge, the rules differ internationally and inland. As you can probably tell at this point, the ROTR test is difficult.


I spent about three hours each night studying for ROTR in addition to the five hours in class each day. After class, I would clean swab rooms, work out, eat dinner, study, repeat. It was certainly a challenging week, but it paid off. Thanks to great instructors and a lot of studying, I passed my ROTR test Friday afternoon with a 100%. I was very happy with that because I aspire to be a deck watch officer in the fleet, and I tested well on the material that I will need for the rest of my career. The rest of my class did exceptionally well too. Out of a class of over 30, only three cadets did not pass. That is an extraordinarily high percentage, considering we only had four days of class due to Memorial Day. The typical passing rate for that week is 60%, and overall, the passing rate for any given week is about 70%.


I think the main reason so many people passed is that we didn’t want to take the test again. At the Academy, you have to pass the closed book ROTR exam. If you fail, you must continue to retake it over and over again until you get a 90%. After you have passed, you may take the exam open book. We have to retake the ROTR exam every four years (I think) for the duration of our careers, so even captains in the Coast Guard are taking this exam.


ROTR is a very difficult exam to pass in a week, but I am glad it is that way. Previously, ROTR was part of our junior year nautical science class, but with the demands of other academics and sports, the passing rate for ROTR was very low. Now, we spend one week on it so that we can focus.


If you have any questions about summer training at the Academy, please feel free to email me at



More about Hunter.


Information Overload

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Cantrell Photo Well we are starting our second week of the summer and I have already learned so so much! This summer I got stationed on CGC Valiant (210’) for five weeks and then Sector Honolulu, Hawaii for six weeks. I am very grateful that I will be experiencing cutter life before I start my ensign tour, but there is definitely a lot to learn.


To back up a little, the end of the semester came up quick (as usual). There were a lot of group and individual projects to be completed before final exams. I was fortunate enough to only have one final exam so I was able to study and hang out with my friends before everyone departed for the summer.


I reported to CGC Valiant on Sunday and I’m not going to lie, I was very overwhelmed. It was just a lot of change in such a short amount of time. You don’t realize how much security you have at the Academy until you get pulled away from it. You are always with your friends and you have a strict routine that you learn to love. I had 78 new faces to learn by name, rate, and rank, while learning where everything was on the ship and where I am supposed to be and when. It is doable of course, but it was definitely stressful and had me missing the Academy and my friends A WHOLE LOT! After the first couple of days, like anything, you start to understand more of what is happening and you can get into the groove, I am lucky enough to have a really great crew and command on my cutter who are willing to help me with anything. I continue to learn everyday and I know that will continue for the rest of my time in the Coast Guard.


I am not rushing the summer away, but I am so excited for firstie year. It will be strange being at the top, but I know my class is ready to take on the responsibility and lead the school. It is going to be a great year. :)


More about Sara.


100 Weeks

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Kukich Photo When my mom asked me how graduation and commissioning was, my initial response was “good.” But good doesn’t exactly do the most monumental event of a cadet’s career justice – no one word really can. Even if I could have an entire sentence worth of words I do not think I could adequately summarize graduation and commissioning at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. It is like absolutely nothing else.


At this point in my cadet career, I am just over 100 weeks in, with less than 100 weeks to go until I follow in the footsteps of the 2014 graduating ensigns across the stage. I have completed four semesters of class and two years of military training, then hundredth week (the best week of my cadet career by far), and finally received 2/c class shoulder boards. But watching the graduation events on May 21st made those 100 weeks seem so insignificant and also made it clear just how much there is still to learn. I was honored to give first salutes to ensigns and hope to carry on their legacy at the Academy specifically in McAllister and the Rowing Center. My salutes to Ben, Cole, and Dave reminded me of the direct impact they have had on my Academy experience and without a doubt on cadets throughout the corps.


If someone was to ask me, now 48 hours after these firsties became ensigns, if I could describe their graduation and commissioning ceremony I would still struggle to find words. But asked how I feel about the last 100 weeks of my cadet career, the word would be “excited.” Excited to finish, yes, but even more excited to have the opportunity to serve alongside the great Class of 2014 for many years to come.



More about Sarah.


We Made it to Nationals!

(Athletics, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Ellis Photo During the Spring Semester, the women’s sailing team has been diligently working toward qualifying and competing in Women’s Nationals. In late April, the Academy held the qualifiers. Teams from all over the Northeast, including Dartmouth, Boston College, Harvard, and Yale, just to name a few, came to compete for one of the nine spots the Northeast region could send to Nationals. Over the course of the weekend, we competed and our team in particular sailed really well – ending up 5th place and earned our spot to compete in this incredible competition.


Upon qualifying, we had a lot of work to do. We practiced everyday and trained to get ready for Nationals, which were held at the Naval Academy in Annapolis during the last week of May. Our training time was very limited though due to the training schedule and demands that the Academy tasks us with. So while some teams could be practicing all day, we were completing 100th week and learning Rules of the Road. And after spending long, tiring days doing this, we walked down to Jacob’s Rock and spend the rest of our energy training.


We arrived in Annapolis ready to sail and earn a podium finish. Sailing at Nationals is a really unique experience. We got to sail with all of the top teams around the entire country. You learn better techniques by watching other people, which you can then use in your own sailing. It is only at Nationals that you can truly match yourself up with the best college sailors around. The Lady Bears ended up 6th place in the country – the best-known finish for the CGA women’s team. We were all very pleased with this finish but look to improve next year! We are already looking forward to starting next fall’s season! Go Bears!



More about Kayla.


Moving Up in the World

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Corbett Photo After a few uniform issues, I have what I need to look like a 3/c. However, I will not officially dawn this title until graduation day when I toss my green shields off and replace them with red shields. As my final post, I figured I would talk about what I am doing this summer and then, as promised, more advice for those who want to swear the oath.


This summer I will be in the operational Coast Guard at Station Milwaukee, Wisconsin. That will last for five weeks and then I will report aboard Eagle for six weeks. If you haven’t followed that sort of thing; Eagle is going to Canada during the second phase! I am looking to go kayaking and white water rafting up there. That is the gist of where I will be, but let’s get to why you’re really reading – advice for the swab select.


Here are a few tips:


First off, everything has a purpose. The cadre go through extensive training on how to train the incoming 4/c. They also have been here for two years and know what life is like at the Academy. Listen to them and any advice they offer.


Second, while going through the summer you might be thinking, “Oh, this is awful!” or “Why did I do this?,” but there are 900 cadets here and plenty of classes before us who went through the same if not worse conditions. Everyone goes through it, and you can get through it, too. Don’t give in.


The summer is 90% mental and 10% physical. It is silly but “whether you think you can or you think you can’t, either way you’re right” (Henry Ford). Push-ups and sit-ups are great and all, but that is the easy part. If you give in to the mental game and let the cadre break you, they will, they know how. Stay strong and remind yourself why you are here.


This leads to the next piece; know why you are here. For whatever reason you decided to join this service, hold it close. I joined for a few reasons, one being I want to serve my country as a Coast Guard officer. You need to focus on your reasons and not lose sight of them.


Final big piece, when you get through the first two weeks, the summer is all downhill from there. The first week is processing and a lot of yelling, second week starts physical training. You will start to learn the rules and you will begin to fall into a daily grove. There will still be bad days but by then you have most of the rules of the game. When the cadre switch happens, you have to start “winning” the game. Start impressing them, and show that you want to be here.


I know most of your cadre. They are good people and are not going to purposely seek you out and take you down. Nothing is personal. It is an honor to be at this institution and Swab Summer is the first of many traditions you will have to go through here.


I am short and to the point today, but there is always more to say. If you are looking for an inside voice to talk to, feel free to email me!


Until I see you in the fall, enjoy your final days in high school and be ready for the craziest summer of your life!


More about Shane.


Open Fire

(Athletics, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Stowes Photo Hi everyone! The summer training period here at the Academy is in its third week. Last week I had the opportunity to shoot pistol as part of our range week training, and I was also part of the commencement ceremony for the graduating seniors.


Range week was very interesting. Monday morning was spent in a classroom setting where we learned about the safety procedures for shooting at the range, and we also learned about the .40 Sig Sauer pistol. The Sig is the standard pistol used in the Coast Guard and it was very cool learning how to take it apart. In the afternoon, we were able to practice our aim at the pistol range with lasers that registered where our shots were landing on a computer that displayed the target. Tuesday was our first day of shooting. Many of my classmates had never shot before, but many others, including me, had shot pistols before. However, I found that my shooting experience didn’t really translate into higher scores. The minimum score to qualify as a marksman in pistol is a 114 out of 150, and I only got a 79. Some of my classmates qualified on the first day, but many returned on Wednesday. After some additional coaching, I felt much more comfortable shooting, and I ended up qualifying with a score of 118. That isn’t a really high score but I was happy to improve so much from the day before. There are three levels of qualification, marksman, sharpshooter, and expert (these range from the minimum qualification score to the maximum). I’m not sure exactly what the ranges are but sharpshooters and experts get to add a pin to their pistol qualification ribbon. Many of my classmates also qualified that day and by the end of the week, everyone qualified. The Academy range instructors pride themselves on a 100% qualification rate, so if you’re concerned about passing, have no fear! We have great teachers.


This blog only scratches the surface of my range experience but I really enjoyed it overall. I learned that experience does not necessarily translate into good technique, but with proper training and a little practice, it is possible to qualify quickly.


Commencement was a major event as well. I had the honor of being in the cordon, which is hard to explain to be honest. Our responsibility was to make an isle of bodies saluting as the official party arrived and departed. The official party was RADM Stosz, ADM Papp, and Secretary Johnson (the Secretary of Homeland Security). The commencement ceremony was great. There were speeches by the distinguished graduate (ENS Jocis), RADM Stosz, ADM Papp, Secretary Johnson, and CAPT McCauley. At the end of the ceremony, the new ensigns tossed of their cadet shoulder boards and covers, donning their new ensign covers and shoulder boards. Then, each of the new ensigns gave their first salutes. As part of Coast Guard tradition, the ensign gives a silver dollar to the first person they salute, so that was special to see. After commencement, the ensigns packed out of Chase Hall for the final time and they headed off to begin their careers as commissioned officers in the greatest sea going service in the world. It was a bittersweet day for those of us left behind, as we watched many of our friends, teammates, and mentors departing the Academy. I hope to serve with many of them in the future.


If you have any questions about any of the summer programs, admissions events, tours and visits here at the Academy, please email me at


More about Hunter.


Week 2: Work Done vs. Have Fun

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Sherman Photo Well, week two went by in a blur! (And I thought week one went quickly.) Let’s see what we did this week. Monday and Tuesday were more drill days, but this week, the cutter’s crew was performing drills for casualties that could happen while the cutter is in port. I participated a little bit, but we took the time to work on our in-port qualifications. They are coming slowly but surely. I definitely spend more time this week after the workday to continue making progress.


On Wednesday, we woke up early to attend a firefighting school at the Naval schoolhouse at Pearl Harbor. Due to administrative technicalities, we weren’t allowed to participate in the actual firefighting, but we did get a good deal of classroom review of the shipboard firefighting principles.


Thursday was a morale day for the crew since there were no drills we had to make up. We played a game of softball in the morning and then liberty was granted to all members of the crew who were not part of the afternoon in-port drills. I took that afternoon to catch up on some sleep and then it was back to work on drawing schematics of some of the systems on board. The most difficult one is the fire main, which provides sea water throughout the ship to fight fires. It can be challenging at times trying to “chase” the piping, but I find it a fun puzzle.


Finally, on Friday, we got underway again for our final drill—the “Final Exercise Problem,” or FEP. We had simulated fires, leaks in the ship’s hull, personnel injury (including our commanding officer!), and a man overboard practically all at once. The crew passed and did exceptionally well. Andy and I were even able to help out a little by being messengers when internal communications went down. I was on duty that evening, so I stayed up from 11 p.m. until 5 a.m. standing the security watch. It was a long six hours, but I made it! Then Memorial Day weekend began!


Slept most of the day Saturday, went to church and did some crazy hiking in the mud on Sunday, and rested and relaxed on Monday. I’m ready for the next few weeks of being in port in a “Charlie” period (basically the crew is working on maintenance for the ship, so we can’t get underway). Andy and I will be hard at work to get qualified and we’re going to start taking over collateral (extra) duties like ensigns would have.


As far as reflections for this week, some take-aways, it’s hard to say. I was doing so much more instead of observing like I did last week. I guess I can talk about this: the work/fun balance. Being in Hawaii for the first time is great—there are so many different things that I want to do and experience. I want to explore while I have the chance. I don’t know when I’ll be back—and for this long! At the same time, however, we have been sent here to experience life in the Coast Guard. As an acting junior officer, that means that we have a lot to learn (all those qualifications and collateral duties that I was talking about up above). Upon first arriving to the ship, there are quite a few things that we’re required to learn and have completed within a short time. As I mentioned, there were several times this week that I worked into the evening instead of going out. Over the weekend, however, I did not make any progress toward those qualifications. Part of me is worried that I won’t complete my work in time (these are not small projects that we have to complete), and I feel slightly guilty for not taking advantage of my time more. At the same time, however, one of the officers pointed out (in passing, actually), that being the JO that is always on the boat after the work day gets old really fast. There is a balance that each person much find with how much time s/he spends outside of the workday and duty getting assignments and projects completed and getting off the ship for some rest and relaxation (although resting here doesn’t mean leaving the ship, since the crew and I don’t have a residences of our own to “go home” to each night).


I suppose part of me is worried that if I continue at this pace and if the weeks pass as quickly as this one, I won’t be able to get my work done. At the same time, however, the other part of me reassures me saying, “It’ll get done. You have plenty of time left and you know how hard you have to work.” I think the other thing that is so difficult is that these projects are (1) much longer term than I am used to and (2) require a significant amount of assistance (teaching, verifying, correcting, etc.) of other individuals on the ship. I’m hoping that these next few weeks in port will prove to be beneficial for getting a lot of work done. At the same time, my time in Hawaii is slowly getting shorter, and there are still quite a few things on my list of things I want to do/see before I leave.


I know that it’s good to set goals, and I have—both long term and short term. Interestingly enough, the short term goals are harder to keep. I may set certain goals for myself for a given day, but things come up, people need help with something, the person I need isn’t around, you name it—something always throws off my plans. Normally in situations like this, I remove myself from the place from which the distractions come; unfortunately, my work needs to be done on the ship, which is where the distractions are coming from.


Nevertheless, my resolve to keep working hard has not and will not diminish. I’ll keep pushing through. This is certainly a challenge, but I know that I am up for it!


I’ll let you know how it goes. Until next week!



More about Justin.


Last Words: 4/c Year

(Academics, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Glick Photo With finals fast approaching, the end of the school year is speeding by. It slowed to a snails crawl until yesterday, when I went to the clinic to get my typhoid shot required for my summer in the Caribbean. Tomorrow night the 4/c will find out our new companies! There’s only three more days left of school, and then finals! I’m boarding Eagle bound for the Caribbean the day after finals, and it is right around the corner.


I met with my Academic advisor and received my course enrollment form with all of the classes I’m taking next semester when I get back. Many people say 4/c year is the hardest one at the Academy, and while there is a bit of truth to that statement, it is not entirely true for me. Next semester I am actually taking more credits than this semester, and while it will be difficult, I am looking forward to the challenge of Calculus II, Ships and Maritime Systems, and Physics. It’s going to be rough, but I’ll get through it. On the other hand, as a Government major, I get to take Principles of American Government in sections with only other rising 3/c Government majors. It’s going to be great to get to know the other members of my class that I will be spending the most time with in the Government course matrix.


There are plenty of opportunities here to expand your intellectual horizons, both inside and outside the classroom. This semester, I had the privilege of being part of the CGA Honors Program, the Cadet Literary Magazine, and Model United Nations Team. I was selected to be part of the Cadet Academic Advisory Board with Dean Colella, and I was honored to be part of a group of people WAY smarter than me discussing the status of academics at the Academy. I was quiet most of the time, but it was interesting and profound to be part of a group bridging the Academics division and the Corps of Cadets.


This year, although not over, was great. Objectively, it was a year spent developing good habits: good study habits, good social habits, and, quite frankly, questionable sleeping habits. It is quite amazing to go to school with everyone who knows your name, and for you to know everyone’s name around you. I have been honored and privileged to be part of the Green Shield Experience this year. Go Bears, go books, go 2017! Can’t wait to put on those red shield in the coming weeks.



More about William.


Practicing Seamanship in the Caribbean

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Sandri Photo It is almost the end of April, and that means 3/c summer is just around the corner! For our second Academy summer, we spend half of the program (about five weeks) aboard the cutter Eagle and the other half at either a Coast Guard small boat station or cutter. I am on Phase I of Eagle, which means 2/3 of the Class of 2017 and I will be practicing seamanship in the Caribbean. Later, I will head to Station Golden Gate in Sausalito, California. During this portion of the summer, the 3/c cadets act as enlisted service members, eat in the chief’s mess instead of the wardroom, and help with basic tasks such as removing chipping paint. Through serving with the enlisted crew, we can experience the fleet from the point of view of those we will be leading in the future. Everyone is feeling pretty excited. I’m going to miss my friends not on Phase I, but Eagle will be making port calls in the Caribbean, so there will be opportunities to keep in contact with them, and of course explore places like Aruba, Cozumel and San Juan! My parents are trying to meet me in Aruba, so I will route a special request to stay overnight with them instead of on the ship.


In other news, we have full carry-on, which is terrific. After marching to class, squaring and bracing up for a year, I have such a great appreciation for “little” things, like being able to walk around Chase Hall and talk to my friends.



More about Eva.


Saving the Planet, One Can at a Time

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Roesch Photo As the semester comes to a close, I realized I have not written an entry in a while. I have been so busy with tying up loose ends in classes and getting ready for my summer, I forgot to write about it! One of the more exciting items on my to-do list was going to Washington, D.C. on Earth Day to receive an award on behalf of the Sustainability Club. Pretty cool, huh? It was a blast, and I felt pretty legit traveling to the nation’s capitol on official orders.


The award was for winning a recycling competition. Basically, the CGA recycled the most aluminum cans per capita out of all the other service academies and in return won $3,500! Another 3/c and I were lucky enough to be asked to go and accept the award for all of our efforts we put into the competition. There was a special presentation at the Pentagon which was awesome – I’ve never been in the Pentagon and it felt pretty official getting escorted around to receive an award!


It was a great experience and I’m glad that all the hard work put into this competition paid off. Environmental awareness is something I am extremely passionate about, and being able to have this outlet at the Academy is just another way for me to have fun and be me! As I’ve said a million times before, finding your niche here and making time for the things you love is imperative to being successful and happy.


On a different note, this past weekend I had the pleasure of attending 2015’s Ring Dance with one of my 2/c friends. It was a great night – everyone was so happy! All of the second class’ excitement was tangible as they donned their class rings; just one step closer to graduation! It made me excited for my own Ring Dance and look forward to 2/c year in general. I’m so ready to have that second diagonal stripe on my shoulder boards…!


So overall, life is great and I couldn’t be happier. Classes are over and I’m ready to take on the summer as a cadre. There are so many things I am looking forward to; however, I am most excited to get my civilian clothing privilege…it’s the little things in life!


More about Allie.


Oh, the Places You’ll Go This Year!

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Driscoll Photo In honor of that Dr. Seuss book, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” I have decided to write briefly about where I will go this summer and next fall.


I have an awesome 1/c summer planned. I am going to work in Washington, D.C. for five weeks as an intern with Coast Guard Intel. D.C. is an awesome city and I’m looking forward to working hard, then spending all my free time exploring the city’s many museums and parks. I plan to visit the Air and Space Museum, see the Constitution, and visit the pandas in the zoo. (I know, I know: I’m a nerd.) After my internship, I report to CGC Juniper in Newport, Rhode Island for my second phase. We are going to be working aids to navigation (buoys) in the New England area, which will be a great opportunity to learn more about a potential option for my first billet. I can’t wait to get to Juniper!


My fall semester will be full of other opportunities. CAPT McCauley, the Commandant of Cadets, announced the Regimental Make for the fall 2014 semester today at lunch. I am going to be the Regimental Planning Officer! It’ll be a lot of work on logistics, but I will have loads of fun.


To close with a quote from the same book I used as my inspiration in the beginning:
“Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!



More about Peter.


Week 1: Watch and Learn

(The Cadet Experience, Life as a Junior Officer, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Sherman Photo Greetings from Honolulu! With my classmate Andy, I arrived to the CGC Sequoia safely last Saturday afternoon. She is currently in Honolulu for drills and training, and this first week has been a blur, but a blast! We jumped right into the system, integrating ourselves with the wardroom and the other members of the bridge team. Andy and I have spent the week being medical accident victims for the drills and learning the various duties and responsibilities of the bridge team—this means we’re navigating, we’re steering the ship, we’re talking on the radio, and we’re being a lookout.


This summer, our 1/c summer (crazy to think that it’s already here and in a short year we’ll be graduating…), we are placed at units where we can fill the role of a junior officer. We have collateral duties as well as watch-standing responsibilities on the bridge. Over the next 10 weeks, Andy and I will work toward earning qualifications for underway junior officer of the deck (JOOD) and in-port security watch-stander. We will be busy all the time—but not too busy that we won’t get a chance to explore Hawaii, and later in the summer some of the other islands, including the homeport of Guam!


The crew and the wardroom (the group of officers in charge) are great—they welcomed us graciously and have been very helpful in getting us acquainted with the ship and our duties. I’m definitely looking forward to the next few weeks. As part of the summer training program, we are required to write a weekly reflection, so I figured I’d tailor them for the cadet blogs audience and send them in! (Not sure why I didn’t think of that during my 3/c summer…guess that goes to show that I’m growing wiser and more experienced, right?)


So, now for the reflection part:


In the role of a JO: I definitely felt that I was observing more than I was doing this week. Because we were being evaluated on our drills and trainings, this week was definitely a little more hectic than a normal cutter would be upon first arriving to it. One of the junior officers on board said that Andy and I did well at getting acquainted with the cutter this week. We both have much more “acquainting” that we have to do (learning certain requirements about the ship for the general safety and upkeep), but with a week under our belt, we’ll be able to just do them, instead of having to ask someone to show us, or at least point us in the right direction. I definitely felt that I could have been more aggressive in working on my “quals” (qualifications) by asking more people to show me what I need to learn and signing off that I’d mastered that information or knowledge. Nonetheless, I think I did well at putting myself out there, offering to help, and simply asking questions. Next week I’m definitely going to ramp up how “aggressive” I am at getting my qualifications complete. 


Leadership: I also observed the officers and senior enlisted with regard to their leadership, especially our commanding officer. Our CO is great—she is friendly, personable, and knows how to balance the needs of the ship and the mission with the needs of her people. In talking with the crew, several members have mentioned (on their own) that her command is much better than others. She and the other officers have integrated themselves with the crew and the ship. They are not too busy to talk to you, see how you’re doing, and even help you stand a watch so that you can get a little extra rest. To the crew, this is invaluable, and they love it. That’s definitely something that I have noticed—putting people first (that is, treating them like people first) is key to keeping morale high and motivation strong. The climate on the bridge and in the wardroom (with the officers) is much different than other cutters I’ve seen. The focus is more on learning and becoming proficient—it’s OK to make mistakes, do not do something properly or completely right. Instead of responding as if “You should have known better,” the officers and crew take the opportunity to impart knowledge and information so that you can do whatever you were doing better the next time. It’s about training, teaching moments, and recognizing that we as humans make mistakes and need practice to become proficient at things. This is clear in the CO’s command philosophy: training, proficiency, and teamwork. I’ve definitely seen all of those this week. I love learning (in this case, via observing) leadership! 


See you next week!



More about Justin.


Pilgrim Prom

(Just for Fun, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Kukich Photo In high school, April was the month to go prom dress shopping, order the corsage, plan where pictures would be taken. But in college, April is a month crammed with projects and exams…so much seems to come at once that, as cadets, we forget about the social life around us. The Academy however remedies this problem ensuring each cadet attends a number of formal dances to practice their social skills.


Class of 2015 Cadet Blogger Peter Driscoll invited me to join him this year at the 2/c Ring Dance in the month of April. As an underclass, I saw this invitation as a great opportunity to experience another’s Ring Dance before planning my own. And obviously I knew it would be a great night to escape Chase Hall and spend time with friends. While an odd class year will never be able to compete with an even, I must admit 2015 and especially my date Pete did a fantastic job organizing the evening. From details such as class specific water being added to the ring dipping ceremony, to a father (and Captain) of one of the class member’s being selected as the keynote speaker, the night overall exceeded expectations. Even in a pilgrim-like dinner dress uniform, cadets were able to dance for hours surrounded by friends, guests, and members of the Class of 1965. Pilgrim Prom might not be a frat party, but it is definitely an event that cadets will remember.


More about Sarah.


Halfway There!

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Stowes Photo Summer training is officially underway here at the Coast Guard Academy. Fourth class and second class have headed off to their summer units or Eagle, Third class just completed 100th week, and first class cadets are eagerly awaiting graduation. It is an exciting time for all!


As I just mentioned, third class cadets finished up 100th week. This is the midway point for cadets, which means that after the week is over, we have completed 100 weeks of our time here at the Academy, and we have 100 more to go. During 100th week, the Cape May company commanders (the CG’s enlisted boot camp cadre) come to the Academy to teach the third class about being cadre.


My 100th week was awesome! On the first day, the CCs woke us up at 0500, and the day was devoted to reminding us what it is like to be a swab. We had to do a lot of physical fitness exercises and different remedials, like remaking our racks and so on. Also, we relearned a variety of drill movements. After the first day, the mood was more relaxed. During the second day of 100th week, we focused on having our classmates run IT sessions, uniform and room inspections, and teaching drill. I learned a lot about uniforms, and I realized how much more difficult it is to teach drill/run inspections than it is to just do them. On the third day, the CCs answered a lot of questions about being cadre, and I gained a lot of insight into the difficulties of being cadre and handling trainee issues.


On Tuesday and Wednesday, we had classroom training in the morning at the Leadership Development Center. On the first day, we discussed values, how they are different for different people, and how to indoctrinate the CG values in the swabs. On the second day, we focused on team building, cooperation, and other aspects of being cadre.


Halfway There! (Continued) PDF



More about Hunter.