Gloucester, Virginia --
On top of packed college schedules, several young men and women in the Gloucester Institute’s Emerging Leaders Program spent a day learning from leaders in the world’s finest fighting force, the United States Marine Corps, January 24.
The ELP trains motivated African-American and Latino college students core writing, speaking and critical thinking skills while exposing them to various corporate, nonprofit and government leaders.
The students took part in the Marine Corps Leadership Seminar, a showcase for leadership opportunities that the Marine Corps offers to young college graduates. Known worldwide for developing leaders, the Marines base their training on the core values of honor, courage and commitment. These values align with organizations in the civilian world, and can provide future leaders with a competitive edge.
Capt. Kenneth Simmons, a communications instructor at the Marine Corps Intelligence School, in Norfolk, Virginia, started the seminar with a presentation on Marine Corps leadership traits.
The students were broken into small groups and assigned a series of leadership exercises. Each student was given the opportunity to serve as a group leader, to reinforce and apply leadership traits to the topics of discussion.
“It’s important to be confident,” said Capt. James Zegarelli, an infantry officer at Training and Education Command. “Jump in, experience the situation, let go and see what happens.”
One hallmark of the seminar is that it isn’t just a class; it is driven mostly by discussion, in which students input their own personal experiences, in addition to those shared by the instructors.
“I loved it and I definitely learned a lot,” said Hope Laramore, a native of Richmond, Virginia and senior studying sociology at Christopher Newport University. “It was interactive, informative and insightful.”
The guest speaker, retired Brig. Gen. George Walls, Jr., delivered a message on leadership he had learned over a 29 year career as a Marine officer.
“When I was a second lieutenant in Vietnam, a staff sergeant in my platoon gave me this advice. He said, ‘Sir, you don’t always have to be the one with all of the answers all of the time. You’ve got people here to support you, so let them.’ And that stuck with me throughout my time in the Corps, and beyond.”
After retiring from the Marine Corps, Walls was the Special Assistant to the Chancellor at North Carolina Central University from 1993-2000, with oversight of various university operations, organizational and management issues and special projects. From 2001 through 2004, Walls was the Chief Deputy Auditor for the State of North Carolina. His responsibilities included oversight of the statewide operations of 194 auditors, administrative and support staff. He now serves on the boards of several organizations.
“Successful people set goals and never lose sight of them. These people are tenacious in the pursuit of those goals,” said Walls.
The seminar’s mission is to foster and grow a positive impression of the Marine Corps by communicating a message of leadership and integrity to a diverse population of students, faculty, and community influencers who may otherwise have very little or no familiarity with the Corps.
“I was blown away by this presentation,” said C.J. Sailor, Director of Programs and Special Assistant to the President of the Institute, and native of Detroit. “I think we all took something away from this.”