Found: a leader within

8th Coast Guard District NewsWhat does it mean to be a leader? Does it mean to instruct people? Does it mean to build a team? Does it mean to never give up on your goals? Does it mean to make everyone around you better?

What makes a good leader may be hard to define, but one thing is clear – you know it when you see it.

The United States Coast Guard has a proud tradition of leadership and is always striving to cultivate effective leaders within its own ranks. Due to the very nature of what draws individuals to accept the responsibilities and challenges of the Coast Guard’s missions, natural born leaders are easy to find.

Petty Officer 1st Class Erin C. Giblon, a reserve marine science technician stationed at Coast Guard Sector Mobile, Ala., who is currently serving as a field observer for the Gulf Coast Incident Management Team for Deepwater Horizon, is a perfect example of how good leadership can make a difference.

As a civilian, Giblon has been a reading teacher for the past five years. She has taught at Escambia Charter School and Escambia High School in Pensacola, Fla. She has also coached the high school girl’s soccer team during her tenure.

In her Coast Guard life, Giblon is responsible for a reserve group of MSTs at Sector Mobile.

“Giblon has successfully trained and got nine other reservists pollution-responder qualified,” said Chief Petty Officer Kenneth C. Jacobs, the reserve prevention branch supervisor at Sector Mobile.

Giblon recently found out that she will have a much bigger role in leadership. On March 9, 2012, she was accepted into the Reserve Officer Candidate Indoctrination program where applicants are molded into Coast Guard officers. Following the three-week program, Giblon will become a commissioned officer in the Coast Guard.

She will face both mental and physical challenges throughout the course. These challenges are put in place to make sure that the applicants are prepared to take on the challenges of being a commissioned officer. Physical and mental preparation for the course is crucial to the applicant’s success. The applicants will have to pass numerous classroom tests as well as strenuous physical fitness tests. The physical tests include swimming, push-ups, sit-ups, sit-and-reach and a mile-and-a-half run.

The ROCI program is a very challenging and competitive program and only accepts the top performers who apply. Giblon has more than five years of service with the Coast Guard and received her bachelor’s in psychology from the University of West Florida, where she graduated Cum Laude. She also has a Master’s of Science from Columbia Southern University.

Despite her Coast Guard and educational background, she had to apply for the program three times.

“What kept me focused on my goal of finally getting accepted into the ROCI program was all the encouragement from my family and other officers about perseverance and never giving up,” said Giblon.

It is clear that perseverance and leadership qualities are a must to be an effective leader in the Coast Guard.

“She is a great communicator, and her willingness to get the job done has been great,” said Chief Petty Officer Kenneth C. Jacobs, the reserve prevention branch supervisor at Sector Mobile.

Giblon believes her Coast Guard experience in training members and her teaching experience will be valuable assets to lead Coast Guardsmen. Giblon knows that teaching can be tough, but she stands by her experience.

“If you can get a teenager to work you can get almost anyone to work,” said Giblon.

However you define leadership, it is clear that Giblon has found a way to lead a variety of people with confidence and results. The Coast Guard has recognized these traits in Giblon and is giving her a shot at the most important part of leadership – the ability to guide the men and women who make up the future of the Coast Guard.

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