On an overcast afternoon at the Long Beach-Los Angeles Coast Guard Base, two Long Beach State Students raised their right hands, reciting an oath to commit to a scholarship program that would also enlist them in the United States Coast Guard.
Gideon Essel and Austin Thomson, both third-years at CSULB, are the latest recipients of the College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative program.
Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree can apply for the national CSPI scholarship program, which enlists students in the Coast Guard in exchange for benefits including funding for tuition and school expenses, a Coast Guard salary and housing.
Essel, who is a computer science major, said that during his freshman year, he contemplated what he would do with his major. In his sophomore year, Essel said a member of the Coast Guard came into his class and gave a presentation.
Though Essel had thought about joining the army, it was the Coast Guard that he learned more about. Then, when CSULB student and friend Andrew Fosterwas accepted into CSPI and shared his positive experience, Essel felt it was time to pursue it.
Essel, who said his family is happy for him, shared that he is looking forward to the support system within the Coast Guard as well as the experiences he’ll have as a member of the Coast Guard.
“What I was thinking about when I was deciding to commit as well, like the potential job opportunity that could derive during the Coast Guard or the experiences, that I could use the Coast Guard to help me engage in those skills, get certain certifications and what not,” Essel said. “That was definitely something I’ve considered and it’s something that I feel like that will benefit me most now that I’m in the Coast Guard.”
President Jane Close Conoley attended Essel and Thomson’s CSPI ceremony at the Los Angeles-Long Beach Coast Guard base on April 23.
“I’m really delighted that our students are furthering their education,” Conoley said, adding that students are part of the next generation of the U.S. Coast Guard.
For Thomson, joining the Coast Guard was something he had thought of since he was in high school. His father was a marine and later worked as a U.S. Customs inspector at LAX.
“The real reason I want to do it now, I just want to help people,” Thomson said. “I want to be able to make a difference to people’s lives.”
Now, Essel and Thomson will be working in the CSPI program, committed to basic training in the summer, working 16 hours a month on all things related to the Coast Guard and finishing strong at CSULB.
And both look forward to the next step in their careers.
“I just want to be able to do good work and to help other people, because there’s just things in this world and there are just a lot of challenges that we have to go through, and I feel like the Coast Guard is an organization that really helps to make the difference in that, in just maintaining order and just help improve people’s lives,” Thomson said.