Jessica Guerra, the first CSUSM student to receive the College Pre-Commissioning Initiative, a Coast Guard scholarship, shares her experience in hopes of CSUSM students to apply.
“Not many people know about this scholarship in the Coast Guard, so I wanted to share it with my fellow CSUSM Cougars in hopes of giving someone else the opportunity to apply to the scholarship and a shot at a very rewarding career… I hope to keep the scholarship alive here by spreading awareness,” said Guerra.
It was during Guerra’s freshman year when she came across the College Pre-Commissioning Initiative, a scholarship that would change her life for the better.
Guerra, a first generation, fourth year criminology major and geography minor was searching the web for harbor police jobs when she stumbled upon the Coast Guards scholarship page. It was then that she decided to apply for the scholarship and the Coast Guard.
“I decided to join the Coast Guard through this scholarship because of it’s benefits and the guaranteed career opportunity after graduation. I wanted to serve in the Coast Guard, because unlike other military branches, the Coast Guard is primarily a humanitarian service,” said Guerra.
The College Pre-Commissioning Initiative scholarship is designed to pay for the last two years of college providing students of minority institutions an opportunity to complete college and a guaranteed job upon graduation.
Guerra said the preparation process for applying takes about three months due to the resume perfecting, letters of recommendation and other components.
“The scholarship offers the benefits of a full-time military E-3 salary, housing allowance, full medical, dental benefits, full tuition and books paid for your junior and senior year of college. Full-time salary and housing allowance average to about $3,800 a month. Once the student graduates college, the student is sent to Officer Candidate School and upon successful completion, gets commissioned as an Officer in the Coast Guard,” said Guerra.
Though it took Guerra seven months to prepare her application for submission, the outcome was well worth it. During spring of 2017 Guerra was granted with the College Pre-Commissioning Initiative scholarship.
“I felt very honored to be a recipient of the scholarship because it is very competitive, honorable and I knew it could change my life for the better. There are only around 60 scholarship students at a time in the whole Coast Guard throughout each year, this gives an idea of how competitive, but how small the awareness on the program is,” said Guerra.
Prior to the scholarship, she was working two jobs while being a full time student. After receiving the scholarship she works once a week with the Coast Guard. This gave her the opportunity to focus on school and engage in extracurricular activities.
Guerra’s title with the scholarship is Office Trainee Guerra. The scholarship has given her the opportunity to work hands on with the Coast Guard and engage in various missions.
“Some of the training I have done in the last year and a half includes going on helicopter flights, going to the shooting range and qualifying on the pistol. Patrolling the coasts of San Diego on CG small boats, attending a two month training at Marine Corps Camp Lejeune base in North Carolina, traveling to Washington DC for a Convention Sales Professionals International conference and more,” said Guerra.
Guerra has high hopes for the future and plans on sticking with the Coast Guard.
“My long term goals are to become a pilot in the Coast Guard with hopes of working in Search and Rescue. Alternatively, I would like to work in the career field of response, working in a CG Strike-Team whose main mission is to respond to pollution, oil spills, hazardous substance releases and more around the world,” said Guerra.
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