Chesterfield, Va. --
It’s not every day that a Marine brigadier general visits a high school to speak about leadership, but two local high schools were fortunate enough to have U.S. Marine Corps Brigadier General David Furness do just that Nov. 7 and 8.
Currently serving as the legislative assistant to the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Furness returned to his hometown of Chesterfield, Va. to accept a Bravo Award from the Chesterfield Public Education Foundation, an annual recognition of outstanding achievements by Chesterfield County Public School alumni. Furness is a 1980 graduate of Clover Hill High School and was recognized for his outstanding military and academic achievements.
Furness spoke to a group of Clover Hill honors and advanced placement students about the importance and development of leadership, and also took questions from the students. Before he left, he shared some secrets of success.
“Everybody in this room has the potential to be successful, it just takes work. It takes education and an understanding of the concept of globalization,” Furness said. “You have to understand the world you’re going to have to compete in. You have to find something you enjoy, find a passion that is difficult to do, and you’ll be better for it.
“You have to cast your net widely, and read on a variety of topics to broaden your views. Most importantly, you have to be a good citizen, and a big part of that is voting.”
Furness also used the trip as an opportunity to visit Meadow Brook High School to speak to the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps units from Meadow Brook, Manchester, and Thomas Dale High Schools about leadership and military service.
“It is important to understand in America that only .01 percent of the population wear the uniform. It makes it increasingly important that the services remain connected to the American people,” he said. “Defending this nation is a large burden on a small segment of the population. I applaud your decision to join JROTC and seek out leadership and self-discipline, not many of your countrymen are willing to do this.”
For the local recruiters, it was an opportunity to show off a local Marine who’s had quite a successful career in the Corps.
"It was a great opportunity to show the students that great careers are available to them in the military by putting a proof-source from their hometown, who even graduated from the same high school as some of them, in front of them and giving him an opportunity to speak about his career and answer their questions," said Staff Sgt. Jefferson Brink, a native of Eureka, Calif., and recruiter from Recruiting Sub-Station Richmond South. "I enjoyed the fact that he spoke intelligently about the leadership principles and traits and how all of those skills transfer over into the civilian sector, making better citizens.
As Marines, we start implementing leadership skills into the very beginning of the Delayed Entry Program, while young Americans await their day to earn the title Marine. Brigadier General Furness was a pleasure, and it was an honor to have him speak to students. I believe that it was a great experience for all of us involved in the education of the future of America. They see us as recruiters fairly regularly, but seeing a Marine brigadier general in their school is a pretty rare sight. "
Furness remained humble about the opportunity to pass on some of the knowledge he’s acquired during a long career in the Corps and classroom.
“I was very well educated, and this school definitely had a hand in that, it’s where a lot of it started,” said Furness, a graduate of the prestigious Virginia Military Institute. “Anything you can do to give back, you do. You don’t get into these positions by yourself, there are people who’ve helped you along the way, and it’s good to give that back to the future generations. I’m very honored to be here.”