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Cadet San Nicolas’ Journey To USCG Academy
by U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Kate Kilroy
June 12, 2023

Four years ago, when Saipan native and U.S. Coast Guard Academy Cadet Kyle Peter San Nicolas was a high school senior, he applied to the Coast Guard Academy alongside his best friend. His friend received an acceptance, but San Nicolas did not.

San Nicolas had yet to apply to other schools, but he knew the Coast Guard mission from a previous visit to U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam and was determined to join the team.

"Being surrounded by water, the Coast Guard was always there," said San Nicolas about his family home in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).

San Nicolas decided to complete a year of community college and then enlist. He caught up with recruiters in Hawaii and went through boot camp in 2020.

September 17, 2020 - U.S. Coast Guard Seaman Kyle Peter San Nicolas, a crew member assigned to USCGC Campbell (WMEC 909) stands watch in Nuuk, Greenland. San Nicolas is from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Kate Kilroy.)
September 17, 2020 - U.S. Coast Guard Seaman Kyle Peter San Nicolas, a crew member assigned to USCGC Campbell (WMEC 909) stands watch in Nuuk, Greenland. San Nicolas is from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Kate Kilroy.)

While aboard his first unit, the USCGC Campbell (WMEC 909), San Nicolas experienced life as a seaman. He participated in pivotal deployments like Operation Nanook, a master's level, deep dive into search and rescue and joint operations in the Arctic alongside Canadian, French, Danish and U.S. Naval partners. All the while, San Nicolas kept sight of his long-term objective.

"The academy was still my goal," said San Nicolas. "After being enlisted for two years, I started my application again."

San Nicolas credits the Campbell's senior enlisted crew and junior officers, like his supervisor, then Ensign, and now Lt. Anne McGoldrick, for helping him apply, even while the cutter was underway.

"When Seaman San Nicholas indicated his intent to apply to the Coast Guard Academy, I was thrilled," said McGoldrick. "As a graduate, I would have trusted him as a classmate and knew he would make a great officer. We were happy to help him reach his goal, and I know he will have the privilege of paying it forward to another impressive Coastie."

San Nicolas says McGoldrick, led by example. San Nicolas says she put the deck department's safety as the first mission and treated every crew member like a valued part of the team, from seaman to commanding officer.

McGoldrick says upon reporting to the Campbell San Nicholas immediately distinguished himself. She said that the deployment he engaged in, Operation Nanook, required strong leadership even from junior members.

"He was determined, thoughtful and hard-working," said McGoldrick. "I felt comfortable relying on him as a leader, despite his short time in the Coast Guard."

San Nicolas' underway experience aboard the Campbell shaped his future in the Coast Guard.

"They were rooting for me; that drove me to go farther," said San Nicolas. "And then I got in, I was accepted into the Coast Guard Academy scholar's program."

He went through the academy's preparatory program at the Marion Military Institute in Alabama, and after going through a year of general education courses, he received an appointment to the academy's class of 2026.

Only two members from the CNMI have graduated in the academy's history ... Lt. Cmdr. Christine Torres Igisomar in 2008, and Lt. Freddy Hofschneider III in 2013. Now, San Nicolas and four of his extended family members, U.S. Academy Cadets Pution Palacios-Camacho, Noah Mesa, Seiji Gonzales and Genzo Gonzales, all have an expected commission in the U.S. Coast Guard.

"I wanted to go out, explore and see how diverse the world is," said San Nicolas. "There are so many people from everywhere; the academy even has exchange students from different countries. Being able to listen to everyone's story, because not everyone has the same story, but being able to listen and learn from everyone makes the environment really good."

When asked what role he would like to follow in his commission, San Nicolas reflected on his time assigned to Campbell's deck department as a seaman.

"I want to be a cutterman," says San Nicolas.

Every path to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard is forged through respect, honor and devotion to duty.

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