Jamaicans grab two of six international cadet spots at US Coast Guard Academy

Shawna Marie Sinclair and Nicholas Folkes have become the first two members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) to be admitted to the Connecticut-based United States Coast Guard Academy.

The achievement threw Jamaica further into the spotlight as the country snatched two out of the six worldwide positions up for grabs in the international cadet programme of the Academy, the US Embassy announced.

“As international cadets, Folkes and Sinclair are subject to the same rules, regulations, and pay as US cadets,” the embassy said. “They will earn a Bachelor of Science degree upon graduation and will return to Jamaica to serve in the Jamaica Defence Force as commissioned officers.”

“All of Jamaica should be proud that one-third of the international cadets attending the US Coast Guard Academy as part of Class 2025 are Jamaican,” the embassy quoted Charg d’Affaires John McIntyre as saying at the appointment ceremony held earlier this month.

Speaking on US-Jamaica bilateral relationship, US Embassy Coast Guard Attach Lieutenant Commander Jason Hathaway noted that the US and JDF coast guards had long enjoyed a close partnership, “standing side-by-side in the Caribbean to face transnational criminal organisations conducting crimes upon the high seas and coastal zones”.

“Today, we forge the next chapter in that partnership with these two pioneers of Jamaican sea service,” he said.

At the ceremony, Sinclair and Folkes’ mother Elaine Chambers Charg d’Affaires McIntyre received the official asent certificates, Chambers on behalf her son who was unable to attend in person.

On hand to witness the ceremony were Jamaica’s Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of National Security Matthew Samuda; JDF Fleet Executive Officer Commodore Antonette Wemyss-Gorman; Brigade Commander, Maritime, Air and Cyber Command Brigadier Roderick Williams; president of the Caribbean Military Academy Brigadier Radgh Mason and US Embassy Senior Defence Official Lieutenant Colonel Robert Ramsey.

The first international cadet programme began as an exchange with the Philippines in 1970. Since then, over 200 cadets from 50 countries have enrolled in the programme.

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