The U.S. Coast Guard landed its helicopter on the Felton Field April 17 to greet SC State students, faculty, staff and Felton Laboratory School students. Members of the Coast Guard used the opportunity to engage with students, discuss options available within the branch, and strengthen the partnership between the Coast Guard and SC State, which allows students to commission and serve in the branch.
SC State alumni and Coast Guard members, Cmdr. Richard Howell, Cmdr. Patrick Burkett and executive officer Eric Jones, were in attendance and expressed gratitude towards returning to their alma mater, which has afforded them various opportunities. They also discussed how students can join the Coast Guard while attending SC State, and were honored to share their knowledge.
“I don’t get many opportunities to come back, and it feels good to be able to return and tell students about the great opportunities available within the Coast Guard. SC State has prepared me well to serve since as a student, I was required to have discipline,” Howell said.
“Growing up, I didn’t know a lot about the Coast Guard, so I am happy to do my part in getting the word out about what it has to offer. You’re able to serve and gain great experiences, all while making a good income straight out of college.” he said.
Commanding officer, and U.S. Coast Guard pilot, Brian Erickson said this was his first time visiting SC State and he and other crew members were elated when they saw the excitement from the crowd awaiting their landing.
“We’re from the Savannah area, but we serve coastal Georgia and coastal South Carolina, and it is such a privilege to serve in an area where the community cares so much about its military,” Erickson said.
Erickson thanked SC State for allowing the Coast Guard to visit and cultivate relationships with students.
Miranda Moultrie, an SC State sophomore, nuclear engineering major and ROTC cadet, said the Coast Guard’s visit brought a unique experience to her college campus.
“This doesn’t just happen every day at colleges, so I think this makes SC State stand out more. Also, although I’m an Army ROTC cadet, we all experience the same things, we’re just in different branches and have different jobs. I think events like this are good for students to learn from, regardless of the branch they choose,” Moultrie said.
Students can join the Coast Guard through the College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative, (CSPI) which allows students enrolled at minority-serving institutions to compete for scholarships and commission into the Coast Guard as officers.