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cadet blogs

Former Cadet Blogger – A Return on Investment

(Life as a Junior Officer) Permanent link
Wowtschuk Photo Howdy, shipmates! The relationship I have with my editor can be compared with some of the great duos throughout history. She has been the grill to my Foreman, the Nike to my Lemieux, the steroids to my Armstrong, and now, by pressuring me out of retirement for one last “Blog of the Century,” she has become the Pacquiao to my Mayweather. And, like “Money,” I hope to, once again, become TBBE (The Best Blogger Ever) through solid fundamentals, impeccable style, and timely hugs.


Let me start by bringing everyone up to speed on what I have accomplished so far as a commissioned officer in the United States Coast Guard (this will be brief). In a nutshell, I moved to the PNW, went to the Arctic Ocean three consecutive summers, moved to Texas, grew a beard, and am currently maximizing the U.S. Government’s return on investment in my education. In the hopes of imparting some valuable insights about life after the Coast Guard University, I am going to share my experience during each of these chapters of my life.


I begin my journey in the PNW, or Pacific Northwest for all you out-of-touch, non-organic eating, macro-beer drinking, mainstream entertainment enjoying, melanin sufficient southeasterners. Moving to Seattle? The first thing I recommend doing is reject the corporate mainstream fashion value of the lames, and start cultivating your own individual style. This involves wearing a working class hat, having thick rimmed glasses (bonus if you actually need them to see), growing facial hair popular in the 19th century, sporting a t-shirt with some sort of anti-establishment message, and rocking multi-colored socks. As a general rule of thumb, wear clothing only popular prior to 1992, because you don’t want to stand out. Once you have learned to march to the beat of your own drum, and fully embraced hipster “counter culture,” you can begin to appreciate all the PNW has to offer.


The Arctic Ocean is an incredibly fragile ecosystem, virtually untouched by civilization, and contains some of the most endangered animals known to man. Fortunately, the polar bear does not fall into this last category. Polar bears are some of the most incredible animals alive but they are not endangered (seriously, look it up). They were so common, that when sighted I would invariably think “oh cool, ANOTHER polar bear...let me know when it turns into a narwhal”.


Texas is the opposite of Seattle in just about every way imaginable. Upon entering the state, I was issued a hand gun, a Texas state flag, and a copy of George Strait’s Greatest Hits. I did not realize people actually wore cowboy outfits as a serious fashion decision. As a native New Yorker, it has been a slow, and at times, painful adjustment to the Texas culture. If you remember nothing else, remember to shape your cowboy hat. It will save you an embarrassing night at the local dance club.


Finally, as a Coast Guard representative at a top engineering research institution, I hold myself to the highest of standards. I understand my role as a graduate student, and embrace the notion that my job is to work hard and learn as much as possible. The Coast Guard is investing in me and I must return the investment in full. This involves avoiding the many distractions present at a major university, or pitfalls as I like to call them. Here are a list of pitfalls that I am regularly challenged with: waking up whenever I want, discounted menu options until 11 p.m. at local dining establishments, SEC Division I college football games, interacting with young women who are more interested in the social aspects of college than the educational ones, traveling, and, of course, the most dangerous pitfall of all, not adhering to the Coast Guard uniform and grooming standards.


I think this “Blog of the Century,” lived up to its hype, much like the “Fight of the Century,” did. I will leave you with these wise words from the greatest boxer of our generation, Floyd “Money” Mayweather: "I am the best. There is nobody better than me.”


Fun Fact: I am allergic to apples.


More about Bo.


An Absolutely Remarkable Summer

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo Well, this last summer was most certainly a whirlwind of activity! Second class summer is particularly exciting, as you do several different programs through the 11-week training term. My two favorite programs were, without a doubt, being cadre for the swabs and going to the Cadet Aviation Training Program down in Mobile, Alabama.


There is nothing more rewarding than spending three weeks with the people who are going to be your replacements once you promote out in the fleet, teaching them the skills they need and giving every minute of your time to their development. It’s exhausting, to tell the truth; not a lot of sleep is involved, and you’re on your feet almost every second of the day. But, for me, it was always worth it to see how my swabs grew together as a team. The best times for me as cadre were the times I got to simply observe them working together to accomplish a task, whether that was at the ropes course, IC sports, or a challenge in the barracks. I loved seeing their team dynamic and getting glimpses of each swab’s personality, watching them start to gel as a team. Teamwork is absolutely critical at this school; there is no way you can make it through four years of intense academics and detailed training without your friends and classmates by your side. I am so grateful to have been one of the first people to work with Golf Company’s Class of 2019, and to be in the unique position of watching their growth from when the very first entered the Coast Guard!


I did three weeks straight as cadre with the swabs then I got to end my summer with a week of flight. I travelled with seven other classmates down to the Coast Guard’s Aviation Training Center in Alabama. Lordy, was it hot there…but, in spite of that, I got some incredible exposure to a fascinating field within the Coast Guard! We visited the flight training school in Pensacola, toured the base, and of course spent hours in the air. I actually got to pilot some of the aircraft, namely a C-144 and a 65 (Dolphin helicopter)! It was certainly a rush, and definitely a game changer in my career plans. I had been on the fence about putting in for flight school, and CATP helped me realize that flying is what I want to do in the Coast Guard. I really love how the Coast Guard is so willing to throw cadets into new situations and push us to our limits – no one outside this service would ever dream of letting an untrained 20-year-old fly a plane over Mobile Bay. What a privilege, and a great model for us to follow in our careers as we travel and experience all sorts of foreign things with ensign stripes on our shoulder boards!


Second class summer was absolutely remarkable, and I’m excited to have that continue into the school year. I have a lot on my plate with clubs, company leadership, and of course my own spiritual and personal life and I know every minute I spend on those things will be repaid with an amazing year and an even more amazing career! Time to get the school year rolling!


More about Abby.