NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Even as the ground thaws and the trees begin to green, the memory of a long winter is fresh in New England.
For graduating cadets at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, this past winter was their last spent along the Connecticut coastline. They will soon receive their commissions and disperse across the nation to serve as the Coast Guard’s newest officers.
Some are headed for much warmer shores, as is the case with First Class Cadet Taylor Tennyson, who is bound for the Coast Guard Cutter Robert Yered in Miami.
Tennyson’s name may sound familiar: He is one of the most talented boxers to enter the ring in academy history. An All-American, the Virginia Beach-native became a National Collegiate Boxing Association Champion in 2013.
One of Nation's Best
“Tennyson might be the best pound-for-pound college fighter in the country,” said Ed Miller of the Virginian-Pilot in a 2014 article.
He had not boxed before coming to the academy, but Tennyson was quickly won over by the sport and the many lessons it teaches.
“I liked it. I ended up being pretty decent at it, so I stuck with it,” Tennyson said. “Getting into the ring with someone requires tenacity. It’s taking a challenge head on and going at it directly. I like to apply that to how I handle situations and to tackle them head on.”
Tennyson also applies these same lessons to military leadership.
“It’s not bad that you lose if you learn from it,” he said. “Mistakes are going to happen, but as long as you learn from them and become a better officer from them, you’re going to continue to succeed.”
Scholar, Athlete, Coast Guardsman
Embracing the Academy’s three tenets of academic, athletic and military training, Tennyson has not only proved himself in the boxing ring, but also in the classroom and on the parade field.
Tennyson is on the Board of Trustees Honor List, having earned three uniform stars for excellence in military, academic and athletic performance.
To earn this honor, cadets must simultaneously attain a grade point average above 3.15, be in the top 25 percent of their class in military performance, and obtain a score of 270 or higher on the Physical Fitness Examination. Cadets on the Board of Trustees list are among the top two percent in the rankings of the entire Corps of Cadets.
History of Service
Tennyson comes from a family with a proud history of service to the country. His brothers, uncles and father, have or are currently serving in the military.
“I’m the first Coast Guardsman,” said Tennyson. “I wanted to join the military, but I also wanted to do something a little bit different than everyone else.”
During his second-class summer, Tennyson served as a member of the Cadre, instructing and training the incoming fourth-class cadets during swab summer.
“I really enjoyed the fact that I was involved with their first taste of the military,” said Tennyson. “I still remember my Cadre’s names to this day, so being able to be a part of that big step from civilians to military members was a privilege.”
Education Continues After Graduation
Tennyson is a government major. He was drawn to the humanities in high school and knew that was what he wanted to pursue academically at the academy.
“It involves in-depth thinking, contemplating the issues, and trying to figure out the best solution,” said Tennyson. “I got the chance to voice my opinion, and voice my beliefs about a lot of interesting topics and current world events that actually matter and mean something to the service.”
He plans to couple his academic knowledge of government and humanities with practical law enforcement training once in the fleet. “I’m looking forward to getting as much law enforcement experience as I can,” Tennyson said.
Four years of full days and restless nights at the Academy can be difficult for a graduating cadet to describe in a few words. When it comes to the Academy’s main mission of training leaders, there is one lesson Tennyson will carry with him.
“Remember how it was to be the follower. Remember what you liked and disliked about leaders and use that to steer your leadership philosophy,” he said. “Lead how you would like to be led.”