Petty Officer Thumhart’s journey with the Coast Guard spans over a decade. Starting as a Yeoman and now serving as a recruiter, she reflects on the transformative nature of her service.

“The Coast Guard has been more than just a job; it’s been a transformative force in my life,” she shared.

Driven by the promise of higher education without financial burdens and the allure of global travel, Thumhart’s decision to join the Coast Guard has led to profound personal and professional growth.

Petty Officer Second Class (E5) Natascha Thumhart of the United States Coast Guard recently visited Oakland Technical High School, sharing her experiences and the opportunities within the Coast Guard with the football and flag football teams.

The assembly at Oakland Tech was a resounding success. One senior player expressed newfound interest in the Coast Guard, saying, “I have been talking to my coaches about what I am going to do after high school. The Coast Guard gave me their information, and I am really interested in exploring that path.”

Alexis Gray-Lawson, the Athletic Director, observed that the students were particularly struck by the opportunities presented. Many were unaware that the Coast Guard was distinct from the Navy. Visibility and representation were key takeaways, with the students appreciating seeing someone of color in a leadership role.

Gray-Lawson emphasized the importance of exposing students to various career options.

“Not every student wants to join the Army or Navy. The Coast Guard is another way to serve and use the skills they have learned through sports to head into a career,” she stated.

One of the key challenges facing the Coast Guard today is recruiting young people. Establishing partnerships with high schools like Oakland Tech is crucial. These partnerships facilitated by DistrictWON, a U.S. Coast Guard partner for marketing and local engagement, allow recruiters to reach a diverse pool of potential recruits, promoting diversity and inclusion within the Coast Guard.

Thumhart emphasized that many students are unaware of the educational programs and benefits offered, such as tuition assistance and scholarships. By engaging directly with students, misconceptions—such as the Coast Guard being solely a reserve military branch or the hardest to join—can be addressed.

“We’re stricter when it comes to accession standards, but we’re not as inaccessible as some might think,” she clarified. She went on to say, “The Coast Guard offers a wealth of benefits that extend far beyond a traditional career.”

Diversity and inclusion are not just values but operational necessities for the Coast Guard. Thumhart explained that having a diverse force enhances cultural competence, community engagement, and operational effectiveness. Representing various backgrounds also aids in recruitment and retention, providing role models for new recruits.

“Integration and diversity are crucial to our mission and values,” she stated, underscoring the ethical imperative of equality and respect.

The assembly at Oakland Tech High School showcased the Coast Guard as a viable and rewarding career path. Petty Officer Thumhart’s inspiring story and the engaging presentation opened new horizons for the students, planting seeds of curiosity and potential future Coasties.