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cadet blogs

What a Year

(Academics, Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Ulbricht Photo One of the hardest years of our lives is almost finished. Any first year at a new school or work is going to be difficult, but more so for first year Academy cadets. Many of my shipmates have struggled academically, including myself. Some people have been proactive and worked hard to improve grades, while others just sit back and hope for the best. I personally have never been one to just sit back and watch things turn bad, knowing there is something I can do to make it better. I like to finish something, satisfied that I put forth more effort than I needed to. I feel that once finals are over, I will be satisfied that I had an overall successful 4/c year. Yes, I struggled a lot of the time when it came to academics, many people do 4/c year. But once you know you are struggling, it’s what you do afterward that matters the most. Many of my teachers have told me that they like that I come in for help, and they applaud me for taking the initiative to do that. If there is advice that I can give to incoming cadets it’s to get help. Set up study sessions with your friends, keep up on your homework, and stop by for assistance from your teachers. They notice that you are trying, and in the end will work in your favor.


Looking back on the past 10 months, this year has been quite the journey. At times I wish I could go back to Swab Summer, because at least I was getting a full 8 hours of sleep, was exercising all the time and didn’t have to do any math! In the grand scheme of things Swab Summer was not hard. Granted we did not think of that when we were going through it, but once you begin the academic year you may want to go back to Swab Summer. As a class I feel that we have had an emotional and mental rollercoaster the past couple months. Our grades were not up to par, resulting in many of us having to attend after school study sessions to improve them. This caused us to miss out on sporting events and other activities we could have been doing. We had a little mishap with our indoctrination board, and as a result of that we were not granted carry-on. After having to square a full year, it was disheartening to hear that our hard work was for nothing. If you can make it through 4/c year at the Academy, you have the strength mentally and physically to accomplish anything.


I’m looking forward to the challenges of the summer as I tackle the experience of Coast Guard life at a small boat station in Portsmouth Harbor, New Hampshire, and academics during summer school.


More about Cameo.


The First Few Weeks Underway

(Overcoming Challenges, Class of 2012) Permanent link
Shih Photo Hey! This Ensign Shih coming to you from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. I have been on board CGC Bertholf for the past week and a half, and have to say I’ve been having a pretty good time. I reported in on June 19th, and the next day left San Francisco Bay to join RIMPAC 2012 in Hawaii (If you want to know more about RIMPAC…it’s in the Battleship movie).


Right now I am serving my first billet in the Coast Guard as a student engineer, and would definitely say I feel a bit like a fish out of water. Engineering is not my element (I majored in Management at the Academy), but the way I see it I am getting to learn about some extremely cool systems on a brand new boat, and am getting paid to go to extra hands-on engineering school!


They really throw you into the fire when you first report in, and I would say a very important thing I was able to take from the Academy was trained initiative. On board, there is no one who can hold an Ensigns hand, because everyone is so busy. People are often more than happy to help, but you must seek out that help, because it’s not just going to come to you. I wish I could say I have been doing a lot of cool things the past week, but I really haven’t. My life right now is relief memos and drawings of the ship systems. Drawing…I would compare to SED at the Academy, it just does not click in my head. Lucky for me however, I have had a ton of help from the Chief’s Mess and the crew (who are great!), and after 26 painful drawings I only have two left. While I may not be doing cool things, the crew definitely has. I have been able to observe most of them, and participate in a few exercises. I don’t know if I am suppose to talk about what we have been doing, so I will just leave that to your imagination.


I can’t say I particularly enjoy being underway, but I definitely don’t hate it like I thought I might. I know many young JOs start their careers underway, and as my Captain says it is important part of our service’s history and there is a reason young men and women have been doing it for decades. Who knows? I may end up being a cutterman yet. Only time will tell. I have to say though, that if you want to work out underway, a National Security Cutter is the way to go. The gym on Bertholf is about the size of the Chase Hall gym at the Academy, and has just about everything one would need to stay in shape underway. Granted, there is rarely time to work out underway (I skip dinner to do so), always something to do…always more quals to chase.


I need to get back to my drawings, but I hope that all the swabs and cadre are having a great summer. It’s strange to think they people I yelled at two years ago are doing the yelling now. One of my old cadre is actually on my boat…


As always if you have any questions about fleet life (my limited experience) or the Academy feel free to contact me, I will do my best to answer! 


More about Chris.