Post written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Annie R. B. Elis.
Every day, Coast Guard recruiters travel the nation to help high school and college students make one of the toughest decisions of their lives, what comes next?
Earlier this week, Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Eddie Lesane and Lt. Lushan Hannah found themselves at the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Career Expo in Charlotte, N.C., talking to students and parents from thirteen historically African-American insitutions about considering a career of service to their country as they look to the future after graduation.
Specifically, Lesane and Hannah were onhand to educate students on the opportunities presented by the Coast Guard’s College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative – commonly known as CSPI.
This rare scholarship program pays for up to two years of tuition, books and fees. After graduation, CSPI students are accepted to the Coast Guard’s Officer Candidate School in New London, Conn., where upon completion, they earn a commission in the U.S. Coast Guard.
Lesane has a strong personal connection with the program as a CSPI graduate from South Carolina State University, one of the nation’s oldest Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Lesane knows firsthand that many students at the expo at one point or another experience some financial challenges during college.
“As a young man, I knew I wanted to go to college but wasn’t sure I could afford it,” said Lesane. “CSPI gave me a chance to get my degree and become a Coast Guard officer. I never looked back and hope some of the kids here today will seriously consider the program.”
In other cases, Lesane said students know very little about the Coast Guard.
“Fear of the unknown – not knowing what the Coast Guard does, makes students hesitate about joining the military,” he said.
That is why the career fair is so important, according to Hannah, also a CSPI graduate participating in the expo.
“I came here today because I believe in service and to help spread the word about the opportunities in our service,” said Hannah. “From search and rescue to environmental protection to law enforcement, the Coast Guard is full of great career opportunities for every American.”
Lesane said each Coast Guard participant at the expo has a success story to share about their career in the military.
“If we can educate students on the opportunities and what the Coast Guard can do for them, then that is a victory,” said Lesane.