June 17, 2005 — Its never too early for students to start thinking about their future — and for eight young Virgin Islanders, that future begins in July with the Coast Guards Academy Introduction Mission.
This competitive program consists of a one-week summer session, which, according to the academys mission statement, gives students "the chance to experience the rigor, discipline, and rewards of the Coast Guard Academy personally."
Following their junior year of high school, selected participants will meet with Coast Guard faculty and staff and train just like a normal cadet. While there the students will learn about the academy's academic, military, and athletic possibilities, while also working with Coast Guard professionals currently employed in protecting the nation.
Of the 1,000 applicants, only 450 are selected by the Coast Guard board, which convenes at the Coast Guard Academy Admissions Office in New London, Conn. These students, hailing from all across the continental United States and its territories, face stiff competition for admittance.
Many are in the top 10 to 20 percent of their class and have been involved in a myriad of related extracurricular activities, such as JROTC, Scouting programs, NASA, and other Coast Guard auxiliary programs.
Students must also submit their school transcripts and pass all physical requirements, as well as be financially able to take care of the $325 application fee and the cost of airplane tickets to the programs facilities in Connecticut.
As this may be difficult for students in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where a ticket to the mainland may cost anywhere between $600 to $1000, applicants are encouraged to think about their finances beforehand. For those who may not be able to afford the airline tickets, programs such as the American Legion and JROTC, as well as various school grants, may be able to provide a stipend which covers the cost.
"I believe that this is an opportunity not to be missed since more than 50 percent of the AIM attendees are accepted by the academy in the future," said Lt. Alvin Dalmida, a program project officer.
Students may also receive assistance from the Coast Guard Academy itself, if the academy is alerted beforehand. For the nine students selected from the Virgin Islandsthe largest contingency of students ever accepted from the territorythe application fee was waived.
Once there, students are given the skills needed to become leaders, with officials instilling the Coast Guards core valueshonor, respect, and devotion to duty. They actively participate in sailing classes, a variety of engineering programs, competitive sports events and oceanography projects.
Students also have the opportunity to learn about all of the academys academic programs, which include courses in naval architecture, operations research and computer analysis, and marine/environmental science.
The CGA AIM program runs three one-week sessions in the summer: July 2-8, July 9-15 and July 16-22.
This years V.I. participants are:
Deverelle Dumas- Charlotte Amalie high School
Maxine Emeric- Ivanna Eudora Kean High School
Jevon James- JROTC/Central High School
Elisha Jn-Baptiste- IEKHS
Lenny Phillips- CHS
Seqouia Rogers- CHS
Renaqua Russell- IEKHS
Daria Scott- JROTC/CHS
Danna Stuart of Ivanna Eudora Kean declined due to other commitments.
William Castro of Free Will Baptist Christian St. Croix will be invited for a familiarization visit later in the fall.
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