Face of Defense: Coast Guard Reservist Succeeds Through Hard Work, Dedication
With her eyes intently focused on a chart, Coast Guard reservist Petty Officer 3rd Class Casondra Minifield carefully plotted a course on the waterways surrounding Station Curtis Bay in Baltimore on a duty weekend.
Among the tasks with the small boat station that Saturday, the boatswain’s mate prepared for an exam, worked lines and navigated a 25-foot Coast Guard response boat in Maryland’s Patapsco River.
Minifield, who graduated in 2016 from the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, is now a graduate student at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. She takes great pride in her work with the Coast Guard and in all the commitments that fill her schedule.
A multi-sport athlete and community volunteer, Minifield said she pushes herself for a reason. She has a sense of duty to be a good example, to put in the hard work needed for success and help forge a way for those who come after her, she said.
"I always make sure that when I am doing what I have to do, that I am doing all I can do," said Minifield, who hails from Winchester, Virginia. "I try to work through all my failures and I don’t ever get mad at myself or down on myself because failing is part of life."
Past generations made tremendous sacrifices for the opportunities and freedoms of today, she explained. "Our duty is to keep digging away, keep making that path," she said.
Minifield, who has an undergraduate degree in psychology, is studying forensic and legal psychology at Marymount University. She wants to advance in the Coast Guard and even perhaps become a commissioned officer. Her dream job in the civilian world, she said, is to work in the federal law enforcement field.
Joining the Coast Guard
Not wanting to wait until after college, Minifield, who loves the water and swam competitively in high school and college, set her sights on the Coast Guard while a student.
After her freshman year at VMI, she raised her right hand and began her journey in the Coast Guard Reserve, which brought her to this station tucked away on Curtis Creek, a four-hour drive from Lexington, Virginia.
“It was an easy choice,” she said, about seeking to become a boatswain’s mate, a job that demands expert knowledge of seamanship, boat operations and waterway navigation.
Minifield is an exemplary shipmate and role model, according to the executive petty officer of Station Curtis Bay.
"She is a very well-rounded boatswain's mate and has made significant contributions both personally and professionally," Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Jeffrey C. Ritter Jr. said.
Ritter praised Minifield’s solid work ethic, dedication and initiative and commitment. In addition to qualifying as a crewmember, she is also a certified military fitness specialist who leads physical training at the station, he said.
Minifield had a rigorous schedule at VMI, where she immersed herself in leadership activities, athletics and glee club, and volunteered with children. She pushed herself athletically, taking up powerlifting and finding success in that endeavor, including winning first place in her weight category in a tournament.
Now in graduate school, her schedule remains just as packed.
She has continued her commitment to serving others in her hometown of Winchester, where she volunteers with children and helps with a law enforcement explorers program. She credits her father, a former soldier who became a community police officer, as being a role model who instilled a love of service in her.
Paying it Forward
Her time serving in the Coast Guard and volunteering in the community has exponential payoffs, she explained, saying she is happy to pay it forward: "Without the people who helped me when I was younger, I would not be where I am."
Minifield said she feels proud and humbled when young people reach out to her for advice. "It means a lot because I can think back to when I was in their shoes," she said.
She said she believes strongly in seeking opportunities to help the younger generation. People might underestimate young people, she said, but in them she sees unlimited potential, and the ability to bring fresh perspectives and new approaches to tackling challenges.
Her advice to young people is: Give it your best shot, work hard and put in 100 percent. Don't let a bad experience hold you back or get you discouraged. Keep moving; keep persevering.
While Minifield admits her schedule is a lot to handle, she said effective time management, along with some trial and error, prove to be a successful formula in getting it all done.
Besides, she said, she wouldn't want it any other way.