This episode features Jennifer Leong-Luik, a 2004 graduate from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. In this episode, you’ll learn how Jen’s desire to get out of Chicago combined with a drive for financial freedom and an interest in service led her to choose the Academy; and how her openness and willingness to listen to those around her guided her on a path that informed her decision to join the pistol team, pursue a Operations Research and Computer Analysis major, pursue a position in Alaska, and ultimately start her own defense contracting company. Enjoy the show!


  • Being a second generation Chinese immigrant.
  • Looking for a way to go to college that would make her financially independent.
  • Attending the Naval Academy Preparatory School.
  • Choosing to transition out of the military and feeling the sense of freedom to make her own decisions.
  • The power of really listening to others.


  • Can you tell everyone where you’re from? What school you went to and when you graduated?
  • Can you give everyone 1-2 lines about who you are?

1:28 PART I:

  • What made you choose a Service Academy – and what made you specifically choose the U.S. Coast Guard Academy?
  • What about the Coast Guard specifically seemed so different to you compared to the other services?
  • Growing up as a second generation Chinese immigrant.
  • Getting rejected by the AIM program at the Academy.

10:00 PART II:

  • Applying to be part of the class of 2003 and getting outright rejected.
  • Having a terrible interview.
  • Wanting to give up with her pursuit of the Academy, but then receiving a letter from NAPS.
  • What was your experience like going to NAPS?

19:40 PART III:

  • How did you handle being yelled at and told what to do?
  • The benefits she experienced by going to NAPS before the Academy.
  • How did SWAB summer go for you?
  • If you had to sum up your time at the Academy in one word, what would it be?
  • Choosing Operations Research as her major.

29:30 PART IV:

  • What are some of the highlights and most memorable moments of your time at the Academy?
  • Joining the pistol team on a dare.
  • Hanging out with the restricted cadets to play Mah Jongg.
  • Did your parents come out to visit?
  • Tell me about some of your lowlights at the Academy.

38:00 PART V:

  • Tell me a little bit about your life post-graduation.
  • Getting an offer for a civilian job and deciding to leave active duty.
  • Learning to make a decision based on what she wants to do. 
  • Dabbling with the idea of owning her own company.


  • Deciding to leave her current job to open her own business.
  • What’s next for you?
  • How do you currently feel about your decision to attend an Academy?
  • Do you have any parting words for listeners? Perhaps a key message to your fellow Service Academy sisters?
  • What’s one random fun fact about you?
  • Where can people reach you?



Twitter: @leong_je

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