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My Coast Guard
Commentary | March 31, 2021

Coast Guard partners with Elizabeth City State University on pre-commissioning initiative for students

By Jank Patel, MyCG Writer

The Coast Guard has an agreement with Elizabeth City State University (ECSU), a federally-designated Minority-Serving Institution, to strengthen the Coast Guard’s College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative Program (CSPI). The Coast Guard’s Fifth District commander serves as the Executive Champion for the partnership with ECSU.

CSPI is a program designed for motivated students who demonstrate a high standard of academic and leadership excellence and desire to serve their country in the Coast Guard. 

The Coast Guard and ECSU are well paired. The Historically Black College and University offers an aviation program that frequently works with Air Station Elizabeth City to provide aviation exposure to their students, and the Coast Guard offers several enlisted and officer career paths in aviation. 

Students who meet the program requirement can begin their pilot training at ECSU and earn a degree in aviation before moving on to careers in the Coast Guard, if that’s something they choose to pursue. 

In an already competitive field, the Coast Guard provides that opportunity to earn a degree in a supportive environment by building connections and expanding career choices with a strong aviation network.

Four officer trainees (OTs) will graduate in Summer 2021 and Summer 2022 from the CSPI program and shared some words of wisdom about their experience, goals and tips for future applicants. 

Officer Trainees reflect on the pre-commissioning process

“Applying to this program has been one of the best decisions I’ve made,” said OT Nomar M. Proctor. “I received the experience which the university has to offer while also gaining key development career skills needed as an officer. This program has already opened so many doors for me.”

“It’s not enough to just meet the grade requirements. You have to show leadership and stand out from all other applicants,” added OT Daimon L. Rawlinson. “The panel that oversees the application process wants to see applicants that are well-rounded in community involvement, campus activities and clubs, and seeks out any and all opportunities that will not only place you in leadership roles but help develop your critical thinking and teamwork abilities.”

“CSPI program is great for anyone seeking to serve their country, receive an expenses-paid bachelor’s degree concurrently with a salary, and launch a career as an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard,” said OT Moriya E. French. “It is not restricted to current college students, as petty officers currently enlisted with an associate’s degree (or equivalent) are eagerly welcomed.” 

Looking back at the day-to-day journey from French’s perspective: “Training at Cape May and completing boot camp was a difficult yet exciting experience.” She recounts how many of the CSPI applicants attend TRACEN Cape May at the same time, creating a bond among the future officers during the eight weeks of training. 

During the school year, coursework is a full-time job combined with a four-hour commitment to the recruiting office. During breaks and between semesters, OTs are given a wide variety of training opportunities at local and operational units. 

OT Colin J. Gilley discovered the CSPI program through the Coast Guard’s recruiting website

“Enrollment in this program specifically put me on a fast track and takes effort to balance both coursework and Coast Guard requirements. It can be done with hard work, focus, communication, flexibility, and planning” said Gilley.

“To anyone thinking of applying, I would encourage you to remain diligent in the application process, show initiative at every opportunity and remain dedicated to achieve your goal.”

The program's benefits include:

  • Full payment of school tuition and fees
  • Reimbursement for textbooks
  • Monthly salary of up to $3,600
  • Life insurance
  • Free dental and medical health care
  • 30 days paid vacation per year
  • Monthly housing and food allowances
  • Leadership training

To be eligible for the program, you must:

  • Have reached age 19 but not older than 28 years old as of Sept. 30 of the fiscal year in which the selection panel convenes
  • Meet character standards
  • Be a sophomore or junior undergraduate student enrolled, accepted for enrollment or pending acceptance in a full-time Bachelor’s degree program at an accredited college or have earned 30 credit hours at a university designated as a Minority Serving Institute (MSI)
  • Meet all physical requirements for a Coast Guard commission
  • Maintain a GPA of 2.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale
  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be eligible for a secret clearance
  • Meet dependency standards
  • Meet all financial obligations and not have excess debt
  • Meet minimum test scores

For more information on the program and application process visit the Coast Guard's CSPI website