Future leaders: Finding challenge and opportunity

On May 18, 2016, the Class of 2016 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 four weeks, Coast Guard Compass will take an inside look at four of the upcoming graduates and the future of these new leaders.

Written by David Santos, director of communications, U.S. Coast Guard Academy

Cadet First Class Jacquelyn Kubicko received a Fulbright Scholarship to the United Kingdom, March 22nd, 2016. Kubicko, a Stratford, CT native, will study Ocean Sciences at the University of Southampton, UK. U.S. Coast Guard photos by Petty Officer 2nd Class Richard Brahm.

Cadet First Class Jacquelyn Kubicko received a Fulbright Scholarship to the United Kingdom, March 22nd, 2016. Kubicko, a Stratford, CT native, will study Ocean Sciences at the University of Southampton, UK. U.S. Coast Guard photos by Petty Officer 2nd Class Richard Brahm.

For the class of 2016 at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, the past year has been a surge of activity. As their graduation date nears, there are research papers to write and capstone courses to complete, before they can take their place in the service.

Completing the institution’s 200-week cadet program results in a Bachelor of Science degree and a commission as a military officer. It is an extraordinary opportunity, and there are not many who have gained as much from that opportunity as Cadet Jacquelyn Kubicko. She has been ranked first in her class academically for the past two years, and seems to thrive on seeking out and overcoming challenges.

“I believe in the necessity of a constant challenge, and pushing personal limits,” Kubicko said. “Luckily, the Coast Guard Academy makes finding challenge easy.”

Kubicko has twice placed on the most prestigious honors list at the Academy, the Board of Trustees list. The list recognizes excellence in academic, military and athletic performance. To make the list, a cadet must simultaneously attain a term grade point average above 3.15, be in the top 25 percent of their class in military performance, and obtain a score of 270 or higher on the physical fitness examination.

“I derive my work ethic through carrying out my passions,” she said. “I joined the Coast Guard because I believe in the missions and want to make the largest contribution I can in the position I’m currently in. Because I’m passionate about this organization, it naturally follows that I’ll dedicate myself to doing all that I can to be an asset. If my job right now is to be a student, then I will do everything in my power to give my best at all times for this organization.”

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Cory J. Mendenhall.

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Cory J. Mendenhall.

The Stratford, Connecticut, native has compiled an impressive list of accomplishments that have literally given her the chance to be a part of deep sea exploration, and will soon let her soar above the clouds.

For several weeks last summer, Kubicko served as the navigator intern on board the 211-foot Exploration Vessel Nautilus. The ship regularly conducts deep sea exploration projects and is equipped with remotely operated vehicles. Kubicko, a Marine Environmental Sciences major, was among 26 students selected to participate in the internship program, and served as a critical link between the vessel and ROV pilots conducting seafloor mapping in the Gulf of Mexico, Panama Canal and Galápagos Rift.

Back at the Academy, and busy completing requirements for graduation, she recently got the news she was hoping for. In March, during the annual “billet night” event where first-class cadets receive their first military assignments before graduation, Kubicko got orders to Naval Flight School in Pensacola, Florida.

Shortly after that, she was awarded the Collegian Innovation and Leadership Award from the Connecticut Technology Council. This prize recognized her academic work in the field of acoustic tomography aimed to image physical characteristics of the ocean in order to contribute to the accuracy of climate change and acidification models.

Among all the accolades and achievements she earned through hard work and determination, perhaps the most significant was the recent award of a two-year Fulbright Scholarship. The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program of the United States. Her undergraduate research at the Academy provided a solid foundation for continuing research on climate change.

The scholarship will allow her to pursue a Master of Research at the University of Southampton, U.K. beginning in the 2016-2017 academic year.

“I truly could not have asked for more than the opportunity to pursue my passion for science as a Fulbright Scholar, while serving my country, as a member of such a unique humanitarian organization,” Kubicko said.

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