Story and photo illustrations by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lauren Laughlin
At the Coast Guard Academy, the presence of international students on campus means a greater range of options, perspectives and knowledge that adds to the diversity of thought on campus.
This summer, as the Class of 2022 reported in, of the 279 swabs, 11 of them are international students, making this the largest group of international students to attend the academy at once.
A total of 30 international students are currently enrolled at the academy. There are four in the class of 2019, six in the class of 2020, and nine in the class of 2019.
These students have come from the countries of Georgia, Honduras, Malaysia, Haiti, Mexico, Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Sri Lanka, Jordan, Madagascar, Belize, Rwanda, Palau, Ukraine, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Panama, Cambodia and the Philippines.
The Coast Guard Academy is uniquely suited to prepare international maritime leaders to address the most complex global challenges of our time; those that require transnational solutions and long-term cooperation between nations, such as polar climate change, protection of ocean resources, terrorism, transnational crime and disaster response and recovery.
“The best thing about the academy is the people – from the officers, enlisted, cadets and facility, it is one big family,” said Coast Guard Academy First Class Cadet Saranjoe Sukcha, an international student from Malaysia. “Also, do not be afraid to take on new challenges. Be grateful when opportunity arrives and give the best you possibly can.”
Representing one’s country at a U.S. military academy is a special responsibility that can bring immense pride and professional reward. The Coast Guard Academy recognizes the importance of this commitment and provides exceptional resources to support the international cadets.
“It is a great privilege and great responsibility to be a part of this prestigious academy,” said Coast Guard Academy Third Class Cadet Dianne Shaira Basuel, an international student from the Philippines. “The Academy nurtures every single cadet to be a leader of character. As we encounter different challenges on the way we discover our strengths and weaknesses and make them a source of improvement.”
International cadets who graduate from the Coast Guard Academy are subject to the same rules, regulations and receive the same pay as cadets from the U.S. They earn a bachelor of science degree upon graduation and serve their own country for at least five years.
Since 1980, about 140 graduates from 40 nations have entered into military or governmental service after graduating from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Several past graduates have risen to positions such as chief of maritime safety for the Philippine Coast Guard, Singapore deputy director of the Ministry of Education, secretary of transportation in Costa Rica and Secretary of Estonian Ministry of Defense.
“The Coast Guard Academy is the best place to experience leadership skills and qualities,” said Coast Guard Academy Fourth Class Cadet Vivine Ishimwe, an international student from Rwanda. “You experiences many challenges while you are here at the academy. It isn’t easy, but no matter what you have to endure in everything. Never ever quit at the academy, and ask for help if you don’t know anything. Everyone here will help you. GO BEARS!”