Cindy Bither
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Cadets Attend Naval Leadership Conference

FullTextImage/img/@altCadet Benjamin Field ’15 and Cadet Kelly Mackenzie ’15 attended the Notre Dame Naval Leadership Weekend. – Photo courtesy of the VMI Center for Leadership and Ethics.

LEXINGTON, Va., March 4, 2014 – When more than 100 Naval ROTC midshipmen from across the country converged in South Bend, Ind., the weekend of Feb. 21, two VMI cadets were among those taking part in the 19th annual Notre Dame Naval Leadership Weekend. This is the second year VMI has been represented.

Built around the theme “Military Leadership and Contemporary Issues,” the weekend provided Cadet Benjamin Field ’15 and Cadet Kelly Mackenzie ’15 the opportunity to interact with peers from around the country as well as to hear from an array of naval leaders.

Among those presenting were Adm. John Richardson, director of naval reactors, speaking on character and Capt. Richard Haidvogel, addressing success as a junior officer.

“This conference encouraged some of our most promising future leaders to put what they have learned in the classroom to practical use as they discussed today’s issues in an open forum,” remarked Marine Col. P.G. Looney, commanding officer of the Naval ROTC unit at VMI. “It also provided a rare opportunity for them to do so alongside some of today’s key decision makers.”

Participants from nearly 30 universities took part in the three-day event, which offered six symposiums, a panel discussion on cyber versus kinetic warfare, and a round of ethical decision games facilitated by midshipmen and officers.

A dinner on Saturday evening in Notre Dame’s Club Naimoli featured special guest speaker retired Vice Adm. John Bird, now senior vice president of military affairs for USAA.

“Any experience that gets VMI students off post to see different points of view from others interested in serving in the profession of arms in our peer group is an enlightening experience,” noted Field, a native of Round Hill, Va., who is currently seeking a commission as an ensign in the U.S. Navy. “Even if you are not looking to go into the military, these seminars offered general leadership advice that has great take-away value and applicability to VMI.”

Retired Air Force Col. David A. Miller, interim director of the VMI Center for Leadership and Ethics, felt similarly: “This was an opportunity for our cadets to meet their peers from detachments around the country and collaborate with future Naval and Marine officers, but it was also an opportunity for our cadets to share their unique experiences from VMI officer training.”

Funding for cadet travel was provided by the Center for Leadership and Ethics.

– Capt. Beth Stefanik