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cadet blogs

Back to School and Billet List

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, Life as a Junior Officer, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Hosley Photo Well, here we are back at school for my very last semester at the CGA! I really can’t believe it, my time here feels like it has gone by so fast and yet I have seen and accomplished so many things! The most exciting part about this semester thus far was putting in my billet list, also called a dream sheet. This is a list of all of the places and platforms (or different types of vessels/boats/jobs) that you are interested in applying for your first tour. The initial step is to look at the shopping list. This is a published list of all the jobs in the Coast Guard that are available for the newly graduating ensigns (like me!!). Once this list is published we get to go through the options and make our own list, in preferential order, based on what we would like to do our first tour.


For me personally, my list was a lot of fun to make and a lot of tough decisions. I was born and raised right here in New England, but throughout my time at the Academy, I have had some incredible and unique opportunities to travel and through those experiences I was able to make my list. I have traveled to, and seen more of this world and more of our beautiful country in the last four years than I ever even imagined for my entire life! Anyway, I used those wonderful experiences to craft my list. My first choice is Seattle, Washington on the Coast Guard’s polar icebreakers! Second on my list is the black hull or buoy tending vessels in District’s 17 and 14 (that’s Alaska and Hawaii, pretty far from home for me)! I know that no matter what I end up getting it will be quite the adventure. I am so excited to find out and I can hardly wait. Stay tuned for my March blog because I will know on March 8th, our Billet Night, which will be live-streamed this year!


Aside from the excitement of billets, life at the Academy is pretty much back to normal. This semester I have my very own division consisting of cadets from each class. We are in charge of the common rooms in our company and regimental recycling. All of the members of my division are outstanding cadets and I am so beyond excited to be able to work closely with them this semester to improve the recycling program at the Academy. So, that is what is going on now here at school, but be sure to check back in after Billet Night!


More about Cece.


From USCGC Legare Until Now

(The Cadet Experience, Life as a Junior Officer, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Chang PhotoA snippet from the beginning:


Well, it’s been a week since I’ve arrived on the USCGC Legare and I’ve learned some things about what life will be like as a brand-new ensign. First, you’re pretty much as lost as the new non-rate on board and the learning curve is a straight shot upward. You need to get your bearings quickly, but apparently being underway is a lot better than being in port. (I think I can attest to that, since there’s not much to do after the workday is done.) There are also a bunch of Academy grads in the area, including a few of my former cadre. It just goes to show that you never fully escape it. But all that aside, I’m excited to see what I can do here and what will come.


A snippet from the end:


I had my doubts about coming aboard the Legare. I was a bit skeptical about going on any platform smaller than a 378’ and was depressed by the thought of being in Portsmouth, Virginia. Upon arriving, my skepticism died down a little, but not by much (we were still in Virginia and suffered some technical difficulties). However, by the end of six weeks, I can say that I wouldn’t have traded my experience on Legare for anything else in the fleet.


I’ve learned so much from the Legare crew. It always amazes me how a short time underway can really make you bond with the people around you, and it was bittersweet leaving the boat. I think the reason why I took away so much from this assignment is because the lessons weren’t always about being a good officer. It comes from the little things, such as checking on the lookouts outside or telling someone they’re appreciated. Everywhere you go, there are so many different personalities, and when all those characters are put on a confined platform for an entire patrol, it gets interesting. Basically, you don’t need to remember every little detail of being a good officer; just be a good person and the rest will follow.


More about Olivia.


Ensign Life, So Far

(Life as a Junior Officer, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Glick Photo Well, it’s been awhile since I wrote one of these, and I thought it would be good to write again. I’m two months into my ensign tour and I am learning a lot. Being underway is both monotonous and exciting. In a way, it reminds me of Swab Summer in 2013, without the yelling. Instead of memorizing the mission and swab indoc, I am memorizing navigation and sailing rules, the CO's standing orders, and I am constantly quizzing myself while my boss quizzes me, too. Here though, it isn't just about memorizing text, it's also about applying it to your job. In a way, it is a lot like Swab Summer - your focus and attitude determine your reality. You can be bewildered or overwhelmed, or you can choose to focus and do your best. There is little room for error, but learning how to not make the same mistake twice is just as important, and recognizing that making mistakes is a part of learning, which is important, too. The standards are high, but I am sure I will live up to them in the coming months. I have a good pair of chief petty officers who are looking out for me, and the crew is great. We towed a few disabled vessels that almost got swept up in the Gulf Stream, and I earned my first qualifications as Inport Watch Stander, recertified on Damage Control, and soon I should have my Inport Officer of the Deck qualification as well. Hopefully in the next few months I will be ready to take my board for Underway OOD, wish me luck!


More about William.


National Memorial Day Concert

(Life as a Junior Officer, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Glick Photo This past weekend, I traveled to Washington D.C. to attend the National Memorial Day Concert featuring Laurence Fishburne, Joe Mantegna, Colin Powell, and Scotty McCreery, among other superstars. The concert was featured on PBS on Sunday evening. The concert went by fast, but the real work was done on the day before, which was called “Media Day.” Before I knew it, I was posting live videos on the Coast Guard Official Facebook page, interviewing stars, and recording videos. I even met the Commandant, Admiral Zukunft.


Initially, the CGA Blog Club needed someone to go down to Washington D.C. to represent the Coast Guard, but then Coast Guard Headquarters heard a recent graduate was going, so they decided to give me authority to manage the Facebook page, which was trial by fire. I met all of the stars, including the voice behind the recent Disney movie Moana. I also witnessed the show’s run throughs, stage checks, and met with all of the folks who work behind the scenes. The viewers on Sunday night only saw the tip of the iceberg – there was so much work put into the concert by stagehands, lighting crews, makeup artists, cameramen, and so many others. I learned about what goes into the show and the stories behind each of the people who made it happen. Each one of these people had their own connection to the holiday, and in some way felt like this was their way of giving back to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.


Everyone has some connection to a family member, loved one, or friend in the military. The concert itself was emotional, featuring disabled veterans who have come a long way from their injuries, which hopefully helped Americans everywhere realize that Memorial Day is not about BBQs, sales, and having a day off.


One veteran from the recent War on Terror was severely injured in Iraq, and he joined in singing America, the Beautiful. It was an emotional moment, but it helped me, and hopefully everyone else in the audience, remember the true meaning of the holiday.


More about William.


Eclipse Week 2017 at the Coast Guard Academy

(Just for Fun, Life as a Junior Officer) Permanent link
Andreasen Photo I recently did something that would have surprised my 4/c self, I jumped at the opportunity to spend an entire week back at the Coast Guard Academy. Why, you ask? Eclipse Week. Every year the Academy hosts an entire week of events aimed at inclusion and diversity and every year cadets are exposed to various topics, discussions, people and, in short, a world they may have never previously seen or known. In reality, cadets are not the only members invited to attend the festivities; Eclipse Week is open to faculty, staff, and officers from all over. I spent the week reconnecting with former cadets and friends as well as instructors and staff who have become friends. Of course, I also spent my time participating in events, while they are all special and important in their own right, three in particular stand out: the opening and closing keynote addresses (I’ll count them as one), the Take Back the Night Event, and…the Academy-wide talent show. As a cadet, I attended these events every year for four years, but as a returning officer, I had a unique perspective as essentially an outsider looking in. The key here is that I was once on the inside just a few years ago and I now had the ability to compare the differences a short time has made. The keynote addresses drew our attention to the significance and also the beauty of keeping an open mind in terms of how we treat others and consider their backgrounds. The value a person receives from taking the time to learn about someone, to help someone, to really work with someone is immeasurable. To be honest, the Take Back the Night Event shocked me. I walked in silence and solidarity with 250 cadets, officers, civilians, and friends to learn about and really reflect on sexual assault in the military. Finally, to end the discussion of my events on a lighter note, I will mention the talent show. The amount of talent possessed by the current corps of cadets and their instructors who performed is simply put: OUTSTANDING. The talent show exceeded expectation.


Each event of Eclipse Week is memorable, special, and vital in developing a cohesive workforce. Unfortunately, I fear some readers have dozed off and will begin snoring. I was fortunate to have attended 2017’s Eclipse Week and will carry the lessons I learned with me to my unit.


More about Brooklyn.