September 12, 2022

Since 2015, I’ve been a member of the United States Naval Sea Cadets, which is without a doubt the best division to be a part of in my eyes. So, when people ask me how it has changed my life, I tell them how it has transformed my life. I’d like to pose a new question: how has it not changed my life? The days I walked through the doors at base will stay with me for the rest of my life. A vulnerable 11-year-old who had no idea she was about to go on an adventure that would transform her into the woman she is today. After all these years, I remember the first face I was met with being someone I regard to be my second family. I was terrified since I had never been a part of a program like the sea cadets or done anything else outside of school. She immediately made me feel at ease and made me even more enthusiastic to be a member of the xxx Division. You see, I was young and immature, unsure of what I wanted to do with my life. People like Mrs. xxx and the entire xx division, on the other hand, rapidly assisted me in discovering my vocation. Which meant not only leading but leading with the goal of assisting people to the best of my ability. I came into this division having trouble advocating for myself, staying in shape, and figuring out who I was.

Drill was held every Saturday morning at an early 7 a.m. Those early morning wakeups, however, were well worth it.

When I didn’t want to keep pushing, I remember some of the people who did. They showed me that just because something is difficult, it doesn’t mean it can’t be done. All it takes is a bit more effort on your part to push back. Xyz family all encouraged me and taught me to enjoy the challenge when I was struggling. To have a desire for it because even the most powerful people struggled and likely wanted to give up at some point. But did they? No. They were the ones who pushed themselves harder got back up faster and pushed their minds to new heights they didn’t realize were possible. And they all made me exactly that person just described. I could never have envisioned myself as such a person. However, here I am. Helping other cadets in the same way that I was aided. Not because of any merit, but because I enjoy assisting others. I’m not interested in the shiny medals or applause. Every day, I want to be able to return home knowing that I helped someone who was struggling. It gives me satisfaction to know that I have contributed to the confidence of the cadets under my command, just as the many leaders who molded me into one did for me.

If I had to sum up how sea cadets have influenced my life, I’d say humility. You see, I’ve never been the kind to sit here and start rubbing it in the other teams' faces or gloating about how awesome I am after any tiny accomplishment, such as winning an event at flagships.

I have always in my heart preferred being a humble person. Using what I know to help people not telling them what they should know. Because we all started with very little experience. That does not make you less than others, nor does it make those who do know better than you. It only allows that other person the opportunity to mentor that other person, not to boast but to use the difference in skill as a chance to teach. Who benefits from boasting, after all? Nobody. At my recruit training, a cadet staff member told us all a quote that I will never forget. Because that perfectly encapsulates what I’ve learned from sea cadets about what a leader embodies when it comes to humbleness and humility.

She said, “remember to stay true to yourself in the dark and keep that humbleness in the spotlight.” I believe that everyone should hear this quote and, more importantly, live by it. Have all of history’s greatest leaders sat around for hours bragging about how terrific they are? No. They’re sitting here lecturing the American people how they might improve for the greater good. Trying to figure out how to help, especially if there isn’t an obvious way to aid. Trying to find all ways to help their people. Because a leader’s job is not to be overweening but to lead and guide their followers. I learned to be humble and kind from the xxx division and the sea cadets. But even so, taught me how to acknowledge and appreciate your achievements while remaining loyal to yourself. Because as a leader, with all your accomplishments, it’s easy to become pompous and arrogant. Mrs. xx and the xx division taught me how to be that guiding hand in the dark. And to be present when someone does not realize they might need help or does not know how to look for help.

This year marks the end of my 7-years adventure with the program, as well as the melancholy conclusion of my journey. But this is only the conclusion of this chapter, not the end of my journey. And man, has this chapter been jam-packed. In my life, it could have its own book. I’m ecstatic to be able to say that. I’m saddened that my time as a sea cadet with the xx Division is coming to a close. But I’m so pleased with where I’ve arrived because of this chapter. I was recently accepted into the <service> Academies Prep School and will join a class of xxx of the country’s brightest future leaders in the Class of 20xx after this year. But, as you can see, I’m not here to brag about that achievement.

I’m here to say that I know in my heart that without xxx division, I would not have been able to get in, much less work myself up to be a candidate. I knew I wanted to serve and protect my country from the moment I went through those doors on my first drill. Sea Cadets provided me with all the resources and confidence I needed to figure out how I wanted to serve my country. It provided me with the tools to focus less about the merits of assisting others and more about how fulfilled you will feel at the end of the day knowing you did your best to assist others in bringing out their best. I’ve spent the last year preparing for the next phase of my life. What 17 or 18-year-old can profess to know what they want to accomplish with their lives, let alone their careers? I am grateful to the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps for allowing me to be able to do so.

So, let me finish by saying that this division has given me so much that I cannot begin to express my gratitude. So now it’s my turn to give back, not just to the sea cadets, but to our country as well. Because the most important thing that the sea cadets taught me was how to serve others. And now I know it’s time for me to fully embrace the passion they sparked in me. I thank XX and XX, among many others, for molding me into the person I am today and instilling in me the confidence I never knew I possessed. I will never forget the lessons this division has taught me because without it, I would not be who I am today.

To sum up, I believe a better question is how the xxx divisions and sea cadets have not affected my life. I’ve had the privilege of guiding many cadets and to learn so much and I couldn’t be more grateful.