Future Leaders: Turning thoughts into action at 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 Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicole Barger

The Coast Guard Academy held a pinning ceremony for the first five members qualified as Diversity Peer Educators, Feb. 27, 2017. The Diversity Peer Educators are made up of cadets who volunteer to serve as the "go to people" for sensitive subjects like race, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity. The Diversity Peer Educators work to create an inclusive and embracing climate for cadets to discuss these subjects within the Corps. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicole Barger.

The Coast Guard Academy held a pinning ceremony for the first five members qualified as Diversity Peer Educators, Feb. 27, 2017. The Diversity Peer Educators are made up of cadets who volunteer to serve as the “go to people” for sensitive subjects like race, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity. The Diversity Peer Educators work to create an inclusive and embracing climate for cadets to discuss these subjects within the Corps. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicole Barger.

First Class Cadet Angela-Ruth Johnson has been turning thoughts into action since she first set her sights on the Coast Guard Academy. After not initially being granted a direct appointment to the Academy, she threw herself into the rigorous yearlong Academy Scholars Program at Marion Military Institute in Marion, Alabama. Upon graduating from prep school, she received her appointment to the Academy and began her four-year long journey.

“I have been constantly finding ways to intentionally take myself out of my comfort zone and be put into situations where I can grow,” said Johnson. “It’s difficult and sometimes I wonder why I do so, but in the end, I am thankful I can directly challenge myself and it has caused me to accomplish more than I thought possible.”

During her four years at the Academy, she has made a lasting impact by helping to firmly establish a program, which allowed cadets to come together and discuss sensitive topics that may have otherwise gone unaddressed.

“I worked on a cadet organization under the Office of Inclusion and Diversity known as Diversity Peer Educators in order to get our future leaders of the Coast Guard talking about issues such as gender, sexual orientation, and racial issues,” said Johnson. “It is a program to help educate each other about personal bias, different perspectives, and show how we can all respect each other.”

She was one of the first members at the Academy to receive her pin, which signified not only the training she completed to become a Diversity Peer Educator, but also the steps the Coast Guard Academy has taken to ensure a healthy and prosperous environment for every individual at the institution.

While managing a newly created organization, Johnson also took on the role of Regimental Work Place Climate Officer to provide leadership and guidance to the entire Corps of Cadets at the Academy.

During the summer, Johnson took on a multitude of different roles. Some of those jobs took her away from the Academy and placed her on ships such as the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle, where she had the opportunity to gain knowledge and experience on the Coast Guard’s only existing tall ship. She also spent time aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau during her first class year.

Cadets perform their second regimental review of 2017 in recognition of Eclipse week coming to a close, April 7, 2017. Regimental reviews are part of military traditions and ceremonies which serve to develop poise, confidence, speaking skills, teamwork, and leadership among the Corps of Cadets.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicole Barger.

Cadets perform their second regimental review of 2017 in recognition of Eclipse week coming to a close, April 7, 2017. Regimental reviews are part of military traditions and ceremonies which serve to develop poise, confidence, speaking skills, teamwork, and leadership among the Corps of Cadets. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicole Barger.

Upon graduation from the Academy with a degree in Operations Research and Computer Analysis, Johnson will be entering the fleet as an ensign in the United States Coast Guard. She will be tasked with large amounts of responsibilities in the overseeing of day-to-day activities. This is the moment she has been working towards since she initially began her Coast Guard career five years ago.

“My favorite memory at the Academy has been with the people I have met and all the mentors that continue to have discussions and conversations with me about tough topics,” said Johnson. “I am hoping that I can bring some of the computer skills I have learned in the classroom to help make operations better than they were before and the skills I have learned as the Regimental Work Place Climate Officer (into the fleet).”

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