Coast Guard Academy swears in largest class in four years

The U.S. Coast Guard Academy welcomed 291 cadets in the Class of 2019 on Monday, the largest class the academy received since 2011.

For the next seven weeks, the class, which includes Hannah Meyers, 18, of Uncasville, and Matthew Jones, 19, of Gales Ferry, will commit themselves to learning what it takes to be a part of the Coast Guard.

“It’s a seven week struggle,” Meyers said.

From 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. for almost two months, cadets will train under watchful eyes. In that time, swabs will go through rigorous mental and physical stress to learn and understand the Coast Guard’s core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty.

“We try to make it as stressful a situation as possible because our jobs are stressful and we need to be able to know how to work in that type of environment,” Ashley Watson, cadet second class, said. Second class cadets, or juniors, run Swab Summer.

After an hour of weighing in, haircuts and getting yelled at constantly, Meyers said she felt like she’d already been there a week.

“Once I get past this it shouldn’t be that bad,” she said.

Meyers is a graduate of Montville High School where she served as class president and was involved in softball and soccer.

“I miss high school because that’s where I was comfortable,” she said. “Even if I am local, it’s hard moving from there to here.”

Although Meyers put months of work into the Academy’s lengthy application process, she was a little hesitant at the thought of attending.

“It took a little encouragement from my family and friends,” she said.

She also applied to Simmons College, Boston University, Salve Regina and University of Connecticut.

Despite the obstacles ahead of her, Meyers said she feels lucky to attend the academy.

“I’m definitely honored to be here,” she said. “Not everybody gets to and it’s definitely an opportunity of a lifetime.”

Jones, who said he’s applied to the Academy three times, was a student at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island. The Ledyard High School graduate said the time spent at college prepared him for the separation from friends and family. And in the hour and a half already spent at the Academy, Jones said, “”I’ve gotten my head shaved, I got yelled at and had to walk down long hallways and get yelled at some more. I don’t think it will be that terrible.”

After training, cadets spend four years at the Academy and graduate with bachelor of science degrees. Once they graduate, they serve at least five years.

Once training is over, Meyers said she intends to study government but after those mandatory five years are up she isn’t sure whether to pursue a lifelong career with the military. Jones, on the other hand, hopes to serve 20 years or more in the Coast Guard.

“I hope to make it a career out of it and try to get as much as I can out of it,” he said.

With a fresh new buzz-cut, Jones said he’s ready for the challenge ahead and keeps his goals in mind.

“I wanted to be part of something more and more than myself,” he said.

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