Written by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cory J. Mendenhall.
Each fall, the Coast Guard Academy welcomes a select group of junior enlisted members for the Academy Enlisted Selection Opportunity Program, also known as AESOP. The program is designed to expose highly-qualified young men and women to the possibility of attending the academy and upon graduation, become commissioned officers in the U.S. Coast Guard.
Bringing prior enlisted members into the corps of cadets and, eventually, the officer corps has several benefits. The experiences and lessons acquired during a span of junior enlistment can prove useful once these members reenter the fleet as officers.
“The officer corps benefits greatly from junior officers who, in addition to having the leadership capabilities required of officers, have the experiential knowledge about the Coast Guard garnered during their time as junior enlisted personnel, helping to accomplish the Coast Guard missions at their units,” said Lt. Corinne Plummer, manager of campus programs at the Coast Guard Academy.
This year, 26 junior enlisted members congregated at the Academy for the program. They were given the opportunity to shadow cadets throughout the day, attending classes, athletics practices, meals and extracurricular activities. Many came away with a very enlightened view of what the academy is all about.
“It was an eye-opening experience, because my prior understanding of how life was at the Academy proved to be quite inaccurate,” said Fireman Elizabeth Adolf, currently a non-rate at Station Jonesport in Maine. “I was able to see academy life from the perspective of cadets, and the opportunities presented to them are incredible.”
“I left the campus amazed at the beauty of the buildings, both inside and out,” said Seaman Apprentice Kyle Harmon, currently stationed at ANT Team Venice in Louisiana. “I was very impressed with the teachers, curriculum, all the resources open to the cadets and the cadets themselves. Overall, I was extremely impressed with the academy.”
AESOP is offered once a year each fall. Candidates must supply high school and any college transcripts, as well as an endorsement from their current command. There is also an age restriction – members cannot have reached their 23rd birthday by Coast Guard Academy Reporting-In Day.
Taking the step from the enlisted corps to the officer corps is a personal decision each participant must make. As members of the Coast Guard are well aware, both the enlisted and officer components of the service are critical in keeping the Coast Guard prepared, alert and capable of performing the many missions with which we are tasked. It’s a matter of finding the place where our unique skill set will enable us to contribute most, and where we will thrive doing so.
“This experience made me realize that the United States Coast Guard Academy is perfect for me and I am going to do everything I can in order to make my application stand out,” said Seaman Allison Mueller, currently a non-rate at Station Michigan City in Indiana.
This year’s program was successful in giving the participants a taste of life at the academy, as well as providing the academy itself with promising members who may potentially return to campus someday as cadets.
“It is truly a pleasure to host the junior enlisted members who are thriving in their roles in the U.S. Coast Guard at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy for AESOP,” said Lt. Plummer. “We hope to be one small step on their path to earning a bachelor’s degree, a commission and becoming the future of Coast Guard leadership within the officer corps.”
For more information about the Academy Enlisted Selection Opportunity Program, contact Lt. Corinne Plummer, U.S. Coast Guard Academy Campus Programs Manager, at (860) 701-6815 or by email at email@example.com.