Former cadet says the Sea Cadet program changed her life — and now she’s inspiring others

By Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephanie Horvat, USCG

When I walked into Naval Operations Support Center Harrisburg in January 2007, little did I know how much the Sea Cadets would change my life.

I flourished in the program. I found my inner confidence and developed my leadership skills as I ranked up. I attended as many trainings as I could, from Grayfox to POLA, two Coast Guard trainings and staffing a Recruit Training. My Sea Cadet chief set a high standard and inspired me to be better in my skills and leadership.

When I attended my Coast Guard trainings in July 2009, I fell in love. I loved how they operated and how they saved lives for a living. I was sold. I came back, and all I could talk about was how I wanted to join the Coast Guard.  

I attended more trainings as a midshipman, acting as XO at a few trainings and battalion commander at a few others. I even got an internship at CSPAN just from being in the Sea Cadets.

My experience was invaluable when starting a new unit in Lebanon, Pennsylvania in 2012. Recently, one of my first cadets became a Marine. When he told me how much I meant to him and how he looked up to me, I teared up. To inspire someone like that is indescribable. 

When I went to Coast Guard boot camp in May 2014, I was automatically chosen as a leader. Being in Sea Cadets helped me to know what to expect in Coast Guard boot camp. Because I knew the system, I was able to help my company through the rough parts of boot camp. 

I am still heavily involved in the program. I’m currently stationed in Jonesport, Maine about an hour from Canada. I drive three hours each way to be involved with Sea Cadets. I hope to inspire and teach the cadets like I was inspired. Without the Sea Cadets, I would not be where I am today.