GMC News

GMC officially becomes a U.S. Coast Guard prep school

AQUA CADETS GMC officially becomes a U.S. Coast Guard prep school By Pam Beer For 14 students across the country, their individual paths to New Haven, Connecticut and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy involve a year’s detour in Milledgeville, Georgia. Georgia Military College Junior College has formed a partnership with the Coast Guard Academy (CGA) that kicks off as the school year begins next month. Students selected by the CGA will attend college classes at GMC for one academic year, using it as a prep school to transition from high school to college level courses with a focus on chemistry, math and English. GMC already serves as a prep school for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. “This partnership is good for GMC because it will bring a group of students into the corps of cadets who, like many of our students, have already identified in themselves a desire for service in a branch of the U.S. military,” explained Donna Findley, GMC Vice President for Enrollment Services. “They will have a focused approach here and an appreciation for many of our customs, traditions and practices.” The 14 students who will be attending GMC are currently all enlisted members of the Coast Guard. The CGA selected the 14 from students who applied to the Academy but got deferred. The Coast Guard prep students will be regular cadets at GMC and will live in the barracks, participate in the ROTC program and wear GMC uniforms. They will participate in athletic programs and team sports – a particular interest of the CGA. The CGA is paying the students as enlisted personnel and is paying their GMC tuition and costs. The students must reimburse the CGA for room and board, however. Upon successful completion of an academic year at GMC, the students will then be accepted at the Coast Guard Academy, which they will attend for four years. Once they graduate from the CGA, they will receive commissions as officers in the Coast Guard. “We all applied to the (Coast Guard) Academy…but got deferred,” said Cory Sonnega, 17, from Seattle, Wash. “This adds an extra year of college (for us) but it shows that we really wanted to do this.” Sonnega is one of five CGA football and soccer athletes who arrived at GMC Aug. 6 to practice with the teams. Troy Nunes, 18, of Montville, Conn., said the CGA was his number one choice of colleges to attend, and that attending a prep school will help the cadets succeed academically, militarily and with time management skills. Madison Ailers, 18, of Los Alamos, New Mexico, said she was impressed at the way the students were being treated at GMC, as “college students with a military aspect.” Blake Bonifas, 18, of Stony Heights, Mich. said he is impressed with the facilities at GMC. Tom Condon, 18, of Whitman, Mass., said he has changed his perspective after landing at GMC. “At first I was a little upset at the aspect of having to do an extra year (of college),” Condon said. “Now that I’m here at GMC, I think it’s a blessing in disguise.” While Coast Guard Academy plebes drop out in numbers because of inability to handle the rigor and demands of military/college expectations, Condon said that the year at GMC “gives us an easier transition so we will have a good four years at the Academy.” Although the partnership with the Coast Guard Academy is just beginning, Findley is pleased with the caliber of the students and the possibilities for the future. “This is really going to be a great program,” Findley said. “It’s one we will want to grow, and to continue years into the future.”