Stevens Point CAP Cadet to attend US Merchant Marine Academy
By 1st Lt Jessica Schaefer
Wisconsin Wing, Civil Air Patrol
STEVENS POINT — Stevens Point student and Civil Air Patrol Cadet 2nd Lieutenant Meredith Elwood will join the class of 2027 at the prestigious U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) at Kings Point, New York this summer, majoring in Marine Transportation.
Nominated by Senator Tammy Baldwin, Cadet 2nd Lt Elwood is one of approximately 260 appointees selected to attend the Academy from around the nation and the world out of approximately 1,800 applicants.
Cadet 2nd Lieutenant Elwood is currently the Cadet Commander at the Stevens Point Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, helping to lead a group of twenty cadets ages 12 to 18, training in aerospace, leadership, fitness, and character development.
Elwood says she enjoys speaking about her beginnings in the Civil Air Patrol.
“My parents found out about Civil Air Patrol through the Young Eagles program at EAA in Oshkosh,” said Elwood. “My brother was in this program, however, he was too young to join CAP at the time and I just happened to be 12. I was completely against joining, but my parents forced me to anyway. In hindsight, that was the best decision for me,” she added. “I thought the program was all about aviation, which I had no interest in whatsoever. I soon fell in love with the leadership and character development aspect of the program.”
This surprise connection worked out well for Elwood, who excelled in the structured environment of the Civil Air Patrol. She describes it as, “an environment where I can fail and learn from that failure – an environment that holds me accountable to myself and others.”
Known for its rigorous academic program, USMMA’s challenging coursework is supported by the Academy’s Sea Year experience, giving midshipmen the opportunity for real-world, first-hand experiences. Elwood feels confident her experiences in Civil Air Patrol have prepared her well.
“I have been taught how to lead effectively, to manage my time wisely, to take pride in myself, all by extraordinary mentors. Most importantly throughout my cadet career, I have learned how to persevere. All of this knowledge will carry with me for the rest of my life and most definitely prepared me for entering the next stage of my life.”
During her cadet career in Civil Air Patrol, Elwood has racked up an impressive list of accomplishments. Among those she counts at the top:
● Honor Staff, Wisconsin Cadet Development Course, 2019
● Cadet Commander, Stevens Point Composite Squadron, 2020-2023
● Honor Graduate and Commander’s Commendation Award, Wisconsin Cadet Academy, 2021 ● Cadet Officer School, 2022
Acceptance to the US Merchant Marine Academy is extremely competitive and reflects highly on a student’s integrity, volunteer service, excellence, and character.
“Cadet Lieutenant Elwood has demonstrated exemplary character and an incredible commitment to service before self in her leadership in our Squadron and Wisconsin Wing,” said Stevens Point Squadron Commander Ryan Vechinski. “We are very proud of her acceptance to the Merchant Marine Academy and know that she has a very bright future ahead of her.”
To her fellow cadets, Elwood leaves empowering words of advice.
“Never give up no matter how hard it gets. It will be hard, but you can’t give up. Make CAPs core values your own and live them out in every aspect of your life. Make school your priority, especially your GPA. Study and take the SAT/ACT as many times as you can. Take care of yourself physically, stay fit and eat healthy. Take time to appreciate those who help you in your journey,” said Elwood.
About the Author
1st Lt Jessica Schaefer is the Assistant Public Affairs Officer for Wisconsin Wing, Civil Air Patrol. She serves with the Stevens Point Composite Squadron.