Since 2007, a special opportunity within the United States Coast Guard has allowed students to serve their country.
What do you want to know
- US Coast Guard Creates New University Program in Tampa Bay
- The program will help students lead the service, but also learn more about the world around them
- The program currently includes approximately 170 students across the country
For the first time, the U.S. Coast Guard University Auxiliary Program is establishing a new unit in the Tampa Bay area.
“I think a lot of students need to look at this as a longer-term opportunity. They have their undergraduate degree, then they can become an officer, gain real-world leadership experience, opt for a higher degree paid for by the government, ”said Russell Gasdia, head of the development arm of the auxiliary university programs , to Spectrum News.
Spectrum News caught up with program participant and University of Tampa student Amber Porter as she headed to the water for a lesson with adjunct member Tony Novellino and the crew.
“You can’t understate the number of opportunities there are in the Coast Guard and the Auxiliary, for training for specific work assignments,” Novellino said.
For the past year and a half, in addition to his regular studies, Porter and 170 other students from across the country have met virtually once a week as part of the Auxiliary’s university program distance collaboration unit.
“I think it was a really great opportunity,” Porter said. “I was really interested in getting into the Coast Guard, but I also wanted to further my education – I wanted the full college experience.”
As the Auxiliary works to establish a unit on the University of South Florida campus in St. Petersburg, Porter said she is thrilled to help by sharing her story.
“My brother-in-law is a Navy helicopter pilot, my dad was a former cop, and both of my grandparents served in the military,” she said.
Porter is a marine science biology major with a minor in environmental science and chemistry.
It might not be the type of career that comes to mind when you think of the Coast Guard, but Porter said the jobs are out there and some are even in high demand.
“With the atmospheric and oceanic convergences, it was really cool to learn how it all works together and also to see that on the ground getting out and being on the water,” she said. “It’s really cool to put these things together.”
If accepted, next summer she will head to the 17-week Officer Candidate School (OCS).
Once commissioned and commissioned, Porter eventually wants to pursue a master’s degree in physical oceanography.
“I’m excited for what lies ahead and I’m excited to see where I can go in a year,” Porter said. “Life changes fast, so you never know.”
As she tells other students about the program, she wants them to know that while online remote collaboration has served her well, having a home base in St. Pete is a game-changer.
“A lot of people just don’t know about the Auxiliary and it’s a great way to meet people — get in touch with students, especially my age, and it’s a great opportunity to meet them,” says she.
USF St. Pete’s program will be one of 14 others offered on campuses across the country.