Future Leaders: Navigating the international waters of the Coast Guard Academy

On May 17, 2017, the Class of 2017 will graduate from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and become the newest group of officers in the U.S. Coast Guard. Over the next week, Coast Guard Compass will take an inside look at four of the upcoming graduates and the future of these new leaders.

Written by Lt. j.g. Alexis A. Davis

First Class Cadet James Myazoe, U.S. Coast Guard Academy Class of 2017. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicole Barger.

First Class Cadet James Myazoe, U.S. Coast Guard Academy Class of 2017. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicole Barger.

Four years at a military academy is arduous for even the most prepared students, but navigating through those years as an international cadet adds an extra layer of difficulty. Language barriers, culture shock, and homesickness can make studying in another country almost impossible. However, each year there is a select group of international cadets who push through and graduate from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy before returning to their home countries. One such student is First Class Cadet James Myazoe of Marjuro, Marshall Island.

“I thought I wouldn’t make it through Swab Summer,” said Myazoe. “The cadre was yelling at me and I really didn’t understand what they were saying.”

Swab summer is the incoming classes’ introduction to the military and the cadre are their instructors.

Myazoe was born and raised in the Marshall Islands, a collection of islands in between the Philippines and Hawaii. He applied to the Academy after seeing his cousin graduate in 2011 as a civil engineer. His cousin returned to the Marshall Islands and performed a two-year payback tour working for the government; because there is no military in the Marshall Islands, his cousin now works as an engineer for the U.S. Navy. Myazoe is also a civil engineer and will return home to work off his two-year payback tour in government.

During his four years at the Academy he has only returned home to see his family one time. He spoke of how difficult it was to learn through the language barrier, his native tongue is Marshallese. It took him about a year before he was comfortable using and listening to English full time and his biggest adjustment was getting used to being on the go all the time.

“The first year was a rough ride,” said Myazoe. “I went from a small island to where everything was really fast all the time.”

When asked why he stayed he said it was for the outcome. He wanted a better life.

U.S. Coast Guard Academy First Class Cadet James Myazoe enjoys snowboarding during his time at the Academy. Photo courtesy of First Class Cadet James Myazoe.

U.S. Coast Guard Academy First Class Cadet James Myazoe enjoys snowboarding during his time at the Academy. Photo courtesy of First Class Cadet James Myazoe.

While at the Academy he spent his time traveling to see family that had relocated to the states, he became a boxer his second class year, and served as an Academy Introduction Mission cadre, AIM is an abbreviated swab summer for high school students. He fell in love with winter sports such as snowboarding and he tried his hand at ice skating. He said he will miss the friends he made here and all the activities there are to do, but most of all he will miss Burger King and getting a double whopper.

To every international student he offered up this advice: “push through.” It will be hard, but keep trying your best, find people who can help you, stay focused and it will be over soon.

His family is flying in for Commencement and this will be his mother’s first time in the U.S. The family will fly home, together.

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