The United States Coast Guard Academy welcomed a new class of cadets on Monday.
The 285 men and women marked their first day of Swab Summer, the academy’s grueling eight-week training program. This year officials said is one of their most diverse, with cadets representing each state, including 15 from Connecticut.
“Not only diversity of race, gender and ethnicity, but also diversity of backgrounds from the places in the country they come from,” said Rear Admiral William Kelly, the academy’s superintendent.
Eighteen-year-old Andrew Kerst grew up in Mystic.
“It’s pretty overwhelming. I’m pretty nervous, but the opportunities of the academy I think are worth it.”
Adrian Alpizar hails from San Jose, Costa Rica. He is one of the five international students in the Class of 2023.
“My brother has always been my hero. I always looked up to him and when he decided to go out to the Naval Academy, I was impressed, and I said I want that in myself. It just called to me much more than anything before.”
The cadets will spend hours on the field running drills and exercises in discipline.
“I wanted to prepare myself physically more than mentally really because that was a big challenge for me,” said cadet Alyssa Parker of Old Saybrook.
USCGA Officials noted that over the past two years the incoming classes have been comprised of 40 percent women.
“We’re not individuals once we step through these gates,” Parker continued. “We’re a team and that’s exactly how it’s going to have to be for all of us to start together and finish together. No one can do it on their own.”