Military veterans give leadership advice to cadets during ROTC Leadership Week

Seasoned military personnel visited Alcorn State University to engage with cadets from the Department of Military Science about being quality leaders.

The Department recently hosted its inaugural ROTC Week. Several alumni veterans participated in various panels in the J. D. Boyd Library Medgar Evers Auditorium. The veterans talked to the cadets about the tools for a successful career in the military and other professions.

One of the speakers was Maj. Gen. Donna Martin, a commanding general of the United States Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. She spoke to the students about exiting their comfort zones and being open and honest about the issues they face. She encouraged them to let their voices be the instruments that enforce positive changes in the future.

“I want you all to take advantage of the opportunity to talk when in the presence of a senior leader,” said Martin. “Open up and talk about the issues that are important to you because the next generation of the Army is not mine, it’s yours. My responsibility is to teach and provide guidance to you and the rest of the next generation of leaders.”

Martin also shared with the cadets about building a reputation that fits a good leader.

“As you grow up in the Army, people will describe you. It is up to you how those people will describe you, so you must display good leadership qualities such as being approachable, charismatic, courageous, and being a good person.”

Other panelists gave cadets advice about carrying the torch into the future. Cyrus Russ, assistant vice president for Athletic Compliance and Academic Services and U.S. Army veteran, advised the students to gain trust by being there for their peers, colleagues, and fellow soldier.

“My priority always has been to build trust,” said Russ. “My soldiers had to have confidence that I would be there to deliver every time. I had to show them that I was always willing to sacrifice for them. Once you gain trust, your troops will follow you anywhere. If you apply this principle to the military and your personal and professional lives, you will be successful at building a good foundation.”

Another Alcornite, Sector Commander/Capt. Kevin Reed, for the United States Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound, spoke on the importance of displaying excellent customer service.

“While at Alcorn, I learned to under-promise and over-deliver,” said Reed. “There may be times where you won’t have the answer, but you may have some insight or interpersonal connections that you have developed through others. These qualities connect with your reputation because you then become the person who is willing to go the extra mile to help someone with what they need. Your assistance goes a long way in building your reputation and getting jobs in the future.”

The students gave positive feedback about the Department’s first ROTC event, and they look forward to future engagement programs.