As she approached the completion of her Dual Degree from Alvin Community College, homeschool student Alyssa Burns struggled to decide about her future.
She wanted to join the military but felt conflicted about which branch was the best for her. Burns, of Pearland, ended up choosing to patrol the seas. She admired and respected the U.S. Coast Guard for its dedication to homeland security and serving the American public.
“What appealed to me most was it is a smaller service that defends the homeland and regularly has an immediate impact on people’s lives,” Burns said. “When Hurricane Harvey hit in 2017, impacting my family and many of my friends, I saw the Coast Guard responding, and that solidified my desire to join the Coast Guard.”
Burns recently graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and will soon join a crew as a new officer aboard the USCGC Rollin Fritch out of Cape May, NJ . Her first assignment will be as Deck Watch Officer and Support Department Head, with collateral duties as the Weapons Officer and Morale Officer. The assignment will be one of many in what she hopes will be a rewarding career with the Coast Guard.
“I would love to see myself supporting the Coast Guard missions of Search and Rescue; Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported Fishing; and Law Enforcement by integrating newer technology including more efficient Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to manage and utilize Coast Guard data, which is what I primarily studied at the Academy along with physical oceanography.”
The path from homeschool student to ACC graduate and ending as a Coast Guard Academy graduate was difficult at times and Burns said it made her a better student.
“It was a constant test of time management and discipline,” she said. “I wanted to do well (at home and at ACC) which meant learning to take well-written, detailed notes, dedicating time outside of class to read the textbook, recognizing when I needed to attend study sessions, and meeting with my teachers during office hours to get extra help and let them know I was really trying.”
Once she went through the requirements to attend the Academy, such as earning a recommendation from State Rep. Ed Thompson, Burns said her education at ACC was an important part of her success as a Coast Guard student.
“My Dual Enrollment experience at ACC prepared me to meet the time management and self-discipline challenges that are constant and inevitable at a Military College,” she said. “Alvin Community College’s Dual Enrollment program was so flexible and understanding of my unique situation. I would say homeschooling is more prevalent today, and dual enrollment programs and college applications are better structured to consider homeschooling situations.”
Now that she has finished her education and is setting sail with the Coast Guard, Burns said she is ready to face any challenges on the horizon.
“Whether I make a full career out of the Coast Guard or not, I find my passions revolve around Geospatial Intelligence, which, in short, is taking data and using it in a way to analyze and predict patterns for problem-solving,” she said. “It’s something that can be applied in so many directions both in the Coast Guard and in the world, so it will be a matter of which direction I decide to pursue! I also have a fiancé who is a classmate of mine, so successfully balancing two Coast Guard careers and family is certainly in the picture.”