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  • Writer's pictureSea Cadets 911 PR - INST Lena Burkut

Meet the Class of 2023: Abigail Leyden

My name is Abigail Leyden, and I’m from Chicago, Illinois. I attended Jones College Prep High School. I played many different sports growing up, from soccer to track and cross country to competitive travel basketball. In High School, I played competitive travel lacrosse as well as rugby. In Middle School, my heart became set on attending the US Naval Academy. I joined the Sea Cadet program at the beginning of my junior year of high school in 2021 to learn more about careers in Naval Service and military customs and etiquette..

Most Memorable Training

Since I joined the Sea Cadet program, I’ve had the opportunity to attend two different trainings: the United States Naval Academy’s Summer Seminar Program and US Navy and Coast Guard Small Boat Operations Training in Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia. I absolutely loved both trainings that I went to.

The Naval Academy, Summer Seminar program, wasn’t technically a training run by the Sea Cadet program, but the Sea Cadets sponsored it. I was able to learn a lot about the Academy and its academic programs, and solidify my desire to attend.

While in Virginia at Small Boats Training, I learned many life skills that I know I will use in my future career. I learned basic seamanship, like how to drive high-speed Navy and Coast Guard boats, dock, and man lines, and use the proper terminology when working with the boats. I and my fellow cadets learned how to operate the boats self-sufficiently, doing our own boat checks upon starting our vessels, checking and filling our own gas tanks, plugging in our own shore power, and ensuring our boats would be prepared for the next day.

I was also given the opportunity to earn my Boating License. I also learned how to chart courses and calculate time, speed, and distance between various points in a course. But by far, my favorite part of the training was learning about Coast Guard Port Security operations and how to protect high-value assets while working in a boat team, and the amount of observation and communication that such operations require.

At the end of the training, we had the opportunity to participate in a military board exam with our boat crews to assess our learning, an invaluable exposure to something I will likely face continually throughout my naval career. The training staff was top-notch and completely dedicated to the development of the cadets at the training, and I learned far more about leadership and military careers than I thought possible.

Where to next?

After graduation, I am honored to be attending the United States Naval Academy. Currently, I hope to study Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering with an added language minor in Chinese. Additionally, I am excited to continue playing rugby and club lacrosse at the Academy, hopefully. Upon commissioning, I am considering pursuing a career in Combat Engineering in the Marine Corps or becoming an EOD officer in the Navy. However, I still have much time to explore my various career options.

Five things you probably don’t know about PO3 Leyden:

  1. I am a musical theatre nerd and have been involved in musical theatre since 4th grade.

  2. I’ve worked at both a zoo and an aquarium.

  3. I work as a lifeguard at a summer camp on Lake Geneva in Wisconsin.

  4. I come from a large Irish family and have over 20 first cousins.

  5. I’ve seen the world’s largest rubber band ball in person (and it was just as cool as it sounds).


What is your feedback on the Naval Sea Cadet Program?

When do you think is the right time to join?

What would you tell parents considering the Naval Sea Cadet program for their children?

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