Since childhood, World History teacher Mr. Vazquez-Rivera has hoped to serve in the Coast Guard in order to connect with communities and protect them peacefully. With his age one year below the cutoff, he decided to take his last chance and join.
Established in 1790, the Coast Guard remains the oldest military organization of the United States government. Today, it is the hardest military organization to get into because it accepts fewer new recruits than any other branch of the military. To join, the coast guard requires US citizenship, physical fitness, a high school diploma and a score of at least 40 — the highest minimum of all military branches — on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test. As the name suggests, the Coast Guard protects the coastline, about 100,000 miles, in the USA and assists during times of natural disasters. Mr. Vazquez-Rivera believes that the Coast Guard is absolutely integral due to the frequency of hurricanes in South Florida.
Mr. Vazquez-Rivera completed his basic training for the program in September and leaves for a second session of training in California on Oct. 22. Training consists of exercise, learning rates and ranks, how to extinguish a fire, seamanship knots, the different parts of a boat, how to safely use a weapon, cybersecurity and confidential documents.
Teaching alongside Mr. Vazquez-Rivera currently, debate coach Mr. Steven Scopa will take his place when he leaves. “Mr. Vazquez-Rivera has definitely prepared us well for him leaving. [He] and Mr. Scopa are a really great duo in my opinion, and it’s been amazing having them both this year,” one of his students, sophomore Alyssa Castaner said. Mr. Scopa will use his knowledge in subjects such as philosophy to teach World History and will help students with their National History Day projects. Mr. Vazquez-Rivera will return to school second semester after he completes his training. He plans to work in re-service, not for active duty, meaning that he will keep his civilian job but also help with the Coast Guard on his days off.
Excited to begin training and eventually serving, Mr. Vazquez-Rivera also dreads leaving his family and students behind. “When someone sees that you are in the military, they usually say ‘Thank you for your service.’ They should say that to the families… because they are the real heroes,” Mr. Vazquez-Rivera stated. Proud of his current accomplishment and this new phase in his life, Mr. Vazquez-Rivera hopes to inspire his students to believe in themselves as well. “To my students: work hard, be ready, and follow your dreams,” Mr. Vazquez Rivera advised.