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My Coast Guard
Commentary | May 15, 2024

Junior officers, apply to study abroad with no payback assignment

By Zach Shapiro, MyCG Staff

When Cmdr. Keith Robinson went to pick up his daughter from her last day of kindergarten in 2021 while serving in Italy, he couldn’t believe his eyes. “She was playing games and speaking Italian and seemed completely assimilated with her classmates in Florence,” said Robinson. Thanks to the Olmsted Scholarship, Robinson watched his daughter learn Italian from scratch after only a year overseas. 
Looking back, Robinson knows that the Olmsted Scholarship — even with the challenges of living abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic — was “more than just grad school. It was a life-changing opportunity for me and my family.” Two years after leaving Italy, he still marvels at the fact that, thanks to the scholarship, he was able to watch his family grow in ways he never thought possible. 
Named for Maj. Gen. George H. Olmsted and his wife, Carol, and funded by the Olmsted Foundation, the program equips ascendant military leaders with foreign language skills, graduate study opportunities overseas, and unparalleled cultural education. Olmsted recognized that officers who were assigned abroad and worked in foreign environments grew personally and professionally. 
“The foundation provides generous stipends to allow for local travel and immersion,” said Lt. Cmdr. Myles McCarthy, an Olmsted Scholar in his second year of study at La Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago, Chile. He and his wife jumped at the “phenomenal opportunity” for his children “to live abroad and experience other cultures.” Every day in Chile is a new day of learning, he says, from explaining American policy in Spanish to his classmates to celebrating Chilean national holidays and festivals. 
There’s something else that sets the Olmsted Scholarship apart from other programs of its kind. As former program manager Cmdr. Kevin Connell emphasized, “there is no payback assignment. You can get right back into your primary specialty” after completing the program. Scholars, he added, have an excellent track record, going on to positions on the Commandant’s Advisory Group (CAG), top operational assignments, and beyond. And they tap into the Olmsted Foundation’s impressive network; its alumni include many former flag officers and senior leaders across the Armed Forces. 
Application and eligibility information 
Candidates must meet specific eligibility criteria for this program. Officers must be designated, or progressing toward designation, under one of the following specialties: 

  • Operations Afloat (CG-OAF10) 
  • Response (CG-OAR10) 
  • Aviation (CG-AVI10) 
  • Prevention (CG-OAP10) 
  • Cyberspace (CG-CYB10) 
  • Intelligence (CG-INT10) 

Candidates must also have between three and 11 years of total active federal service as of April 1, 2024. They must demonstrate outstanding performance, academic achievement, and language aptitude. Finally, they must have completed their current tour or have completed at least one year of their assigned billet. 
Applications are due by May 20, 2024, via Direct Access and must be command endorsed. The selection panel will select three to five finalists, then ask for more materials to submit a final application package to the Olmsted Scholar Program Manager, Mr. Jessie Phillips, by July 22, 2024. The Coast Guard selectee will be notified in mid-October 2024, and the university location will be selected in March 2025. 
If you have any questions, please contact Jessie Phillips. For more information, please see ALCGPSC 061/24.