Unfortunately, we don’t always remember a lot from our childhood. All those first moments: your first time walking, first time talking, maybe even your first time crashing a bike. What I do remember was the first time I heard about Sea Cadets. The night my dad showed me the recruitment video for Sea Cadets, I knew it was a match made in heaven. Then there were the two years I had to wait until my 11th birthday, and I would wait with more anticipation than a room full of stock brokers.
There I was, getting my first uniform, marching in my first parade, and getting my first promotion. Then came League Orientation. It was a warm, bright sunny day in Connecticut. Nothing gave me any hints about what was to come. Being woken up at 4:30 in the morning by 5 teenagers and a pair of trash can lids was an experience I couldn’t be prepared for. What I came to realize was that there were dozens of other cadets my age in the same exact situation. There was no getting out of this alone: we had to work together.
As the days passed we became closer, and the days started to become a fun challenge. That prepared me to take on new challenges, like moving to a new state. After enduring a grueling basic training in Virginia, I made my way down to Florida with a head full of thoughts. Thinking about what kind of friends I would make, how to get good grades at a different school, and what would xx Sea Cadets offer me. Entering into both high school and the xx Division, I hit the ground running.
Because Sea Cadets prepared me to live away from home by myself, I was the only freshman chosen to compete at Princeton and Harvard with my school’s debate team. This is why I branched out to training in and outside of Sea Cadets with topics that interested me, like the Jack D. Gordon Institute, where I studied with members of the CIA, FBI, and DSS. After 2 years in the xx Division, I was chosen to be a member of the color guard team. The more I participated, the greater the responsibilities I was given. Soon I was giving speeches at Navy League dinners, and I was promoted to Lead Petty Officer.
I learned the importance of working with every cadet in my unit. There were more roles for me to fill, as a mentor and motivator, discovering leadership beyond the rank. Now I had to work with a team, delegating tasks and forming new friendships. Suddenly my shell cracked and fell off, as I found myself radiating confidence and positivity, guided by a stern moral compass. I know that because of Sea Cadets, I can and will excel in any agency or profession I choose, letting Honor, Courage, and Commitment guide my decisions.