Coast Guard Academy needs you
to help fill the class of 2008!
The AIM Program and Auxiliary Career Counselor's
help achieve this goal.
By Wayne Spivak, BC-AIG, N-IC
National Press Corps
United States Coast Guard Auxiliary
This year, over six thousand men
and women applied for an appointment at the Coast Guard Academy.
Only one in seven will receive an appointment, and approximately
75% of those appointed will enroll as a United States Coast Guard
(click pictures to enlarge)
Now if you're mathematically impaired,
don't worry, I'll spell it out. Of the 6,028 applications, the
Academy made 429 appointments. 305 accepted. One would think the
Academy is flush with candidates, since they received so many
"Not so", says CAPT
Sue Bibeau, Director of Admissions for the United States Coast
Guard Academy. According to CAPT Bibeau, "the number of college
bound High School grads will begin to decline in 2008. Worse,
the number of students seeking an engineering degree has already
begun to decline substantially, and those who plan to study engineering
will be less prepared to succeed in the classroom than their predecessors.
Add to the stringent appointment requirements, plus our physical
education requirements, and we really have a very small pool of
is why the Academy Introduction Mission (AIM) is so important
to the livelihood of both the Academy and the Officer Corps of
the Coast Guard', said Bibeau. It is the single major source of
recruiting. AIM delivers on average ¼ of the entire entering
class, each year.
AIM is run almost entirely by
the Auxiliary. It is the Auxiliarists themselves, and in particular,
the Career Counselors (CC) that makes the AIM program what it
is, a major success.
"I know this is what I want to
do. I am very proud to be an American. If I don't make it
to the Academy, I will enlist & do OCS. So the Coast
Guard is my career choice." - AIM student
"My AIM week was a little
deceptive", said Cadet Michael Chandler, a 2C or Junior,
in remembering his time as a AIMSter. "The week was a fun
and games, and my first year was anything but fun and games,"
Cadet Chandler recalled. This year, Cadet Chandler is part of
the Cadet Cadre, who provide the leadership training, as well
as the disciplinarians of the AIMsters.
The backbone of the week however,
are the Auxiliarists that take their vacations working with the
young men and women, making sure the week is as fulfilling as
possible. One such Auxiliarist is Ann Roller, of Brockport, NY.
is unique, in that she is also the mother of a former AIMster,
who ultimately went to the Academy. While her daughter was at
the Academy, Ann became President of the upstate New York Chapter
of the Coast Guard Academy parents association.
It wasn't until her daughter was
in her last year at the Academy that Ann joined the Auxiliary.
This summer, Ann is working more than double duty. First as an
AIM leader, secondly as a Career Counselor for the AIM program,
and also as a Mom, since her daughter ENS Loraleigh Whiteside,
was brought back to the Academy on temporary assigned duty (TAD)
from CGC Tahoma, out of New Bedford, Massachusetts to work with
the SWABS, the first year Academy Cadets. This assignment is considered
quite a feather in one's bonnet, especially for Ensign.
"I learned so much information
in such a short amount of time & I need to review everything
I have learned & make sure that this is the school for
me. (However I'm very enthusiastic & hopeful about going
to the Academy." - AIM Student
I caught up with ENS. Whiteside
in her office, on a hot humid day. Her AIM week still holds some
fond memories, and she considers the week as the icing on the
cake, as to why she became a Coast Guard Cadet, and ultimately
an Ensign. "I don't remember many of the specifics of the
week, but it was the overall approach that made my decision. I
knew I wanted to join the military, but AIM week clearly told
me the Coast Guard was where I belonged," said ENS Whiteside.
Do the AIMsters enjoy themselves?
I asked several during a tour of the Coast Guard Academy Museum.
One young woman from Miami said "I thought I physically trained
enough. I ran five miles a day for several weeks before coming
to the Academy. However, Miami is flat and the Academy has lots
of hills. My legs are killing me, but I'm having a great time!"
AIMster from Wyoming lamented how he came from a state with no
water, except for some lakes. He now wants to come to the Academy
and go into Aviation, after hearing a speech by a Coast Guard
Aviator at Coast Guard Career night. Yet, another young man said
he knew he wanted the Coast Guard Academy, and the AIM week fully
reinforced his decision. He'd have no other way.
"This year's AIM program
is different than my year," Cadet Chandler commented, "the
first several days are total Academy reality, from the yelling
and screaming used to make you tow the line, to memorization of
the The Bowsprit, a book which lists everything Coast Guard, from
the name of each Coast Guard Cutter, to the name of each unit.
However, as the week progresses, we are going to lighten up and
the last few days will be fun and games!"
"The first day was horrible, but
now I don't want to leave." - AIM Student
So unique, and successful, one Academy Admissions Staffer stated
that they had to password protect their web site, so competing
colleges and the other service academies wouldn't steal their
students or some of their secrets of success!
Johnston, the Division Chief in charge of the AIM program, puts
in long hours during AIM week, making sure the program fulfills
its mission - Introduce the Academy to prospective Applicants.
He and the other members of the AIM program, including the CC's
located in hopefully every flotilla have been so successful, that
not only has the program grown, but AIM week is now two different
AIM weeks, and each class is 30% larger.
"That's tremendous growth
in the program," said CAPT Bibeau, "and we're even contemplating
adding a third week onto the AIM program next year. We have the
staffing and logistics down, and I believe we can achieve this
milestone! AIM actually saves the Coast Guard and the US Government
money in the long run, since those students who decide Academy
life is not for them during this week, don't apply. We then don't
have to spend the time to review their applications, and should
they accept an appointment, they won't decide to leave."
reading the critiques from last years class of AIM students, a
unique underlying theme became evident. Whether they felt the
Academy was right or wrong for them, or even if the Military was
the right career choice, if not the Academy, the former AIMster's
praised the educational aspects of AIM week. That makes AIM a
unique adventure for the student and a win-win for the Academy.
As hard as the AIM staff and the
Academy Admissions Staff work on and for the AIM program, one
can not underestimate the importance of the Career Counselor.
It is these men and women, who go to the high schools, and seek
out the crème de la crème of the American youth.
They interview them and prep them.
They walk both the student and the parents though the process.
They inform them of the advantages given to the AIMster, which
are not in black and white. Advantages include increased sense
of self-worth, and a more determined bearing. One might use the
term a "can-do attitude" for they, the student has survived
a difficult course: mentally, physically, emotionally and academically.
All occurring in just one short week.
"The Cadre has made me realize
that this is where I should be. I learned from their honor,
respect, & pride in the USCGA that I want to follow
them." - AIM Student
AIM Week for some young man or
woman, will be a new beginning; for others a week spent learning
a new found discipline; all thanks to the men and women who are
part of America's Volunteer Lifesavers, the United States Coast
more information about next year's AIM Week(s), contact your local
Career Counselor by contacting your local Coast Guard Unit (http://www.uscg.mil)
or use Auxiliary Flotilla Finder at http://www.cgaux.org/cgauxweb/getzip.html.
Additional information can be found at CGate News (http://www.cgatenews.com/),
the official gateway for AIM.
Photographs are available at: http://www.freeportflotilla1306.org/press/aimweek/
John (Jack) Roberts
United States Coast Guard Auxiliary