Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Lt. j.g. Cathleen Giguere

Written by Lt. Katie Braynard

U.S. Coast Guard photo

U.S. Coast Guard photo

“Treat others the way you would like to be treated.”

For some people, the above statement is commonly known as the Golden Rule. For Lt. j.g. Cathleen Giguere, it’s a motto that has guided her every step of her Coast Guard journey.

Giguere, a 2013 graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, first became acquainted with the Coast Guard from her father’s 15 years of service. But the more she learned about the service, the more she found her own reasons to join rather than just following in her father’s footsteps.

“As soon as I started hearing more about the Coast Guard from a few other perspectives, and saw the Academy and saw what the missions were, I kind of realized it fit my personality and was something that I wanted to do,” Giguere said. “I know that if I didn’t join and if I didn’t try, then I would regret it.”

U.S. Coast Guard photo

U.S. Coast Guard photo

Upon graduation, Giguere was assigned to U.S. Coast Guard Sector Charleston, South Carolina, where she currently serves in the enforcement division. Her primary responsibilities include overseeing the sector’s boarding teams and serving as the living marine resources officer. She also participates in the various law enforcement and security operations that the sector is responsible for. Under her leadership, the sector conducted more living marine resources boardings in 2015 than in the last five years combined.

In addition to her primary responsibilities, Giguere also took on additional responsibilities to work as a command duty officer at the sector, step in and serve as chair of the unit’s leadership and diversity advisory council and assist with various unit morale events.

To Giguere, she doesn’t see those additional responsibilities as a burden – she sees them as an opportunity to learn and grow as a junior officer.
“I’m still so new in my career that I feel like every time something like that comes up, it’s a good opportunity to learn something,” she said. “Any time I can take on a project, even though it might mean a few extra hours at the end of the day, it means I’m going to learn something, which is the most important thing I think.”

Giguere quickly set herself apart as a new junior officer at the sector and earned an invitation to return to her alma mater to speak at the 2015 Coast Guard Academy ethics forum, an annual panel that helps prepare cadets for the future challenges they may face as junior officers in the fleet.

Like everything else that comes her way, Giguere seized the opportunity. However, she was nervous. She was only two years out from graduation – what could she possibly have to share from those short two years? But, upon arriving at the panel and talking to the other junior officers, she knew she could provide valuable advice.

“I knew there were things that I could share with the cadets that would really help them when they got to their first unit,” she said.

She took the opportunity to talk about something that had provided her with success in her short, two years since graduation: her attitude.

“It’s really just how your attitude is when you arrive and how you treat people and act around people,” Giguere told the more than 750 cadets and audience members at the ethics forum.

Giguere emphasized asking questions, looking for help and getting to know people as key ways to succeed as a junior officer at a new unit.

“It’s a difficult situation to be in, because most times, you’re younger than the people that you’re supposed to be leading and you’re less experienced,” Giguere said. “A positive attitude and a really humble demeanor is what are going to get you through that first year.”

U.S. Coast Guard photo

U.S. Coast Guard photo

That positive attitude and humble demeanor helped Giguere earn the 2015 Capt. David H. Jarvis Inspirational Leadership award.

The award is presented annually to one Coast Guard officer who has made outstanding contributions to the high standards of competence and leadership traditions in the Coast Guard.

In her award nomination, the commanding officer of Coast Guard Sector Charleston, Capt. Gary Tomasulo, noted her expertise and unique leadership capabilities.

“Having the unique ability to inspire confidence in her enlisted and officer colleagues at such an early stage in her career, Lt. j.g. Giguere is certainly the most capable officer of this grade that I have had the privilege to service with and is most deserving of this prestigious award,” Tomasulo wrote.

Giguere says her leadership philosophy all boils down to one thing: the Golden Rule.

“I want to work around people who have a positive attitude, so I’m going to bring a positive attitude,” she said. “I want people to treat me well and do good work for me, so I’m going to do good work for the people around me.”

The Inspirational Leadership Awards are sponsored by the Coast Guard’s Office of Leadership and serve to recognize those Coast Guard men and women who demonstrate proficiency in leadership and best exemplify the Coast Guard’s core values of values of Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty.

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