Our communities make an impact on who we are. At Govs, our students help shape who we are as much as we shape them. We teach them how to be a part of a community, how to respect thoughtful leadership and lead others, and how to be a team player. How to work hard. How to play hard. Students teach us how to be better people, too. Today on Veterans Day, we’re honored to share the stories of two Govs graduates — one a current Govs parent — whose experiences here shaped their military careers.
Baileigh Kimball ‘07, LCDR (sel), of the United States Navy knows a thing or two about teamwork and community. The 2007 Govs graduate says that her academic and athletic experiences at Govs paved the way for her career in aerospace engineering with the United States Navy. Now she’s a helicopter test pilot. “I fly MH 60 Sierras,” she says with a smile.
“I always knew I wanted to do some kind of service,” says Kimball. “When I was in middle school, I wrote a paper about it. My mother still reminds me of it.”
The Rye, NH native was initially drawn to The Governor’s Academy by Roberta McLain P’07, ‘09, the then Govs soccer coach, and currently the girls varsity lacrosse and alpine skiing coach. Kimball loved being part of a team, which has served her well in the military. In addition to soccer, she also played lacrosse and basketball.
What truly inspired her though, was fellow Govs student, Zach Cotreau ‘06, who had just been accepted to the Military Academy at West Point (and notably, was deployed to Kunar, Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne Division in support of Operation Enduring Freedom XIII in 2012, just two years after graduating from West Point) when she started thinking about college during her junior year. “I thought that it sounded interesting and knew that I wanted to follow a similar path.”
Between her junior and senior year at Govs, she attended the US Naval Academy’s summer seminar for high school students. “It was everything I wanted,” she says. “It just fit me.” When she got home that summer, she worked on her application and requests for recommendations from her senators and congressmen.
“I was so excited,” she recalls. “During my senior year at Govs, I took a bunch of AP classes and interesting electives along with playing several sports to help me prepare for college. I really enjoy math and history. When I was at Govs, I knew I loved those things but I never thought seriously about becoming a pilot, but when I got to the Naval Academy I just knew I wanted to do aviation.”
She graduated from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland in 2011 with a BS in Aerospace Engineering.
Kimball reflects, “You know, when I was a kid, my favorite part of family vacation was flying in an airplane, looking out the window.” She started out flying planes — Cessnas, then T-34s, like all Navy pilots under training — until she had to decide whether to continue with fixed-wing planes or helicopters. She opted for helicopters.
“I love it,” she says. Kimball and her husband (she just got married!), also a helicopter pilot for the US Navy, live in Waldorf, Maryland, where she’s stationed at Patuxent River as a test pilot and he attends a full-time master’s program through the Navy at Johns Hopkins University. While she hopes to come home to New England someday, Kimball says, “We’re going to keep doing what we love and serving as best we can.”
Coast Guard Captain Charles Cashin ‘84 echoes that sentiment, despite having retired in 2018. The 1984 Govs graduate and current Govs parent to Chelsea ‘24 knew from the get-go that he wanted to serve also.
“My dad, Charles L. Cashin ‘50, went to Govs too, and then he was in the US Air Force, so that’s what I thought I wanted. I applied to all the academies,” he says, “and they’re all really big — except for the US Coast Guard Academy.”
Cashin wasn’t sure what kind of military academy experience he wanted. Having grown up in New England and attending Govs, he knew he liked the small school atmosphere. He wasn’t sure if the Air Force would be a good fit for him, as it had for his father.
A conversation with the then school nurse’s husband changed everything. “I was talking with Mr. Diehl one day and he mentioned that his dad had been in the Coast Guard. That conversation while I was a student at Govs helped to shape my entire career.”
What followed was 35 years of service in the US Coast Guard that took Cashin and his family all around the world.
“One of the things I love about the Coast Guard is that they do important work for our nation every day. Much of what the other services do is work hard at training for eventualities. It’s necessary, but I really like that in the Coast Guard, you’re protecting America, the American people, and our environment every single day, not just training for it.”
The Govs community has been with him every step of the way. Cashin started out in Alaska, where he was stationed four times, calling Homer home. He’s also served in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, and the Great Lakes. “There are generally two different professional tracks you follow in the Coast Guard — there’s the operational side, like driving ships, flying aircraft or inspecting commercial shipping, and there’s an administrative or strategic side you need to learn as well,” he explains.
He has served aboard seven different cutters, commanding three of them, and circumnavigated the globe, patrolling the Bering Sea, the Great Lakes, and the Persian Gulf, and many places in between. He retired as a senior policy advisor on the Arctic, counternarcotics, and economic and national security.
Cashin recalls picking up a new Coast Guard cutter in the Great Lakes and stopping in Boston on his way back to Alaska. “It was the spring of 2003. I knew we were stopping in Boston and so I invited some Govs friends to come see the new ship.” He remembers a wonderful visit that included some now retired as well as current members of the Govs community including the Abusamras, the Kellys, and Mrs. White.
Even in Alaska, Govs still played a significant role in his experience.
“We loved living there — I did four separate tours over nine years. One year, the cross-country coach at the time, Dave Abusamra, joined a group of Govs friends who happened to live close by. Even from 6,000 miles away, it’s still a tight community.”
Cashin says the relationships that started in the early 1980s still resonate. “They’re relationships that just don’t go away.”
Now, with his daughter in the ninth grade class, Cashin hopes she will experience some of that same sense of community.
“Half the experience at Govs is its solid academics, and the other half is learning how to be a good member of society and being part of a community. That’s the most important part of what Govs taught me and I want my daughter to experience that as well.”
Cashin recalls how Govs truly prepared him for the Coast Guard Academy. “It wasn’t my first time being away from home,” he says, “as it was for a lot of my peers. I knew I had to take care of myself and be helpful to other people when I was there. Academically, they also positioned me very well.”
Being responsible for himself and recognizing that his actions and decisions affect others is a skill that Cashin credits partially to his Govs experience. “The school was really good at letting me go on my own a bit; I had lots of freedom to fail and succeed,” he says. “I’m grateful for that freedom and the opportunity that I had to figure things out.”
He hopes his daughter learns from those same opportunities as he did. “There are so many opportunities at Govs to lead. It’s the shared vision and the ability to work toward a common goal that really helped me.”
Now retired from the Coast Guard, Cashin works for a government contractor in national security and intelligence in the DC area. His wife and 6-year-old twins love hearing how Chelsea is doing at Govs.
“I cannot think of a better lead-in for a career in service, or whatever she wants to do,” he says.
Kimball and Cashin demonstrate the hard work and dedication it takes not only to participate in a vibrant, inclusive community but to lead by earnest example. We’re grateful to Baileigh and Charlie this Veterans Day for their humble and selfless service. We’re honored that they continue to be a part of the Govs community.