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Aiming High in Leadership

By Cadet Angel Johnson

In a new seminar, senior cadets were challenged to reflect on the leadership lessons they learned in their four years and to think about the value of their own moral character. Sponsored by The Krause Center, the Senior Leadership Integration Seminar was designed to engage senior cadets in a full-day professional development course on Leadership Day.

Cadets explored the value of character and principled leadership, establishing a vision for their future and what legacy they would like to leave The Citadel and their profession of choice.

Contracted Air Force ROTC senior cadets were hosted by members of the Air Force ROTC detachment’s staff and their seminar was held at Joint Base Charleston. During their seminar, these cadets were divided into three groups which were facilitated by staff members. While many cadets initially thought that the seminar would be repetitive, they soon realized that the open discussion with their peers and active duty Air Force officers nurtured new discussion about what it means to be a principled leader.

One of the topics that created the most discussion was a character and core values exercise that allowed cadets to evaluate themselves based on 15 questions in the areas of honor, duty and respect. Cadets examined how they had developed their sense of honor in an educational environment, how they could develop their sense of duty by holding others accountable for their actions and what it meant to develop a healthy respect for themselves and others.

The keynote speaker of this seminar was Air Force Col. Benjamin Wham II, who formerly served as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Afghanistan Engineer District-South commander. Wham presented cadets with his idea of what it means to be a leader.

“A leader never asks someone to do something he or she would not do,” Wham told cadets.

Wham shared stories about his deployment in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and discussed the tough issues involving his airmen and soldiers, including DUIs and suicide. With real world examples, his message was concise without being overly philosophical or broad about the concept of leadership.

Cadets were also able to speak to company grade Air Force officers with whom they bonded because they were relatively young and had not been serving for long. From a variety of fields, including intelligence, aerospace, maintenance, and cyberspace, they shared information about different training environments, their first enlisted-officer interaction and what it was like to be the junior on the officer totem pole.

The seminar had a positive effect on the Air Force ROTC senior cadets. Cadets were unexpectedly surprised by the seminar. They found it interesting and eye-opening. And with such a success in its first year, the Senior Leadership Integration Seminar developed is guaranteed to become a favorite of cadets as it continues.

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