Hanna Moolenaar, a Denver native, graduated from the United States Coast Guard Academy on May 22. Previously graduating from East Lincoln High School, Moolenaar has now gone on to achieve a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a commission as an ensign in the Coast Guard.
Originally founded in 1876, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, located in New London, Connecticut, prepares students, in one of nine majors offered, to become Coast Guard officers. Once they have graduated, cadets are commissioned as ensigns with an obligation for five years of active-duty service with the Coast Guard.
Moolenaar, a former varsity player for the Lady Mustang basketball team, said one of the factors in her decision to join the Coast Guardwas her ability to continue her basketball career with the Coast Guard Bears NCAA Division III basketball team.
“I chose to attend CGA because of the opportunities it would provide me, such as a guaranteed job after graduation, the financial benefits, the engineering program and the basketball team,” she said. “I quickly came to find out that I would also be given the opportunity to travel. Lastly, I joined the Coast Guard because of its service to our country and the call to do something bigger.”
The decision to attend the Coast Guard Academy is not one many high school seniors choose to make. Even of those who do qualify into the Academy, not all graduate, due to the Coast Guard’s leadership, academic and physical standards. Of the around 250 cadets in each class, only 200 graduate.
“My experience at the Academy was a challenging one,” Moolenaar said. “From the first summer to the last semester, I found that I had to work. I had to study late at night to get good grades, I had to find time to take care of my military obligations, I had to show up to basketball practice early and stay late to learn plays and new moves, and I had to physically push myself to maintain the physical fitness standards. Although it was not easy, it was rewarding to look back each semester and year and know that I made it because not everyone does.”
Post-graduation, Moolenaar will be an engineering officer in training aboard the
the USCGC Thetis, whose home port is Key West, Florida.
“My commissioning means that I am leader,” she said. “It means that I have what it takes to lead the Coast Guard’s enlisted, my peers and civilian work force. It also means that I stand for honor and respect. My thoughts on preparing for the next step mostly consist of amazement that I made this far, excitement for what is ahead, nervousness for the start of a career and fear of finally having to pay bills.”