By Julia HenningJune 13, 2013
WASHINGTON (Army News Service June 13, 2013) -- High-ranking Army personnel sometimes visit cadets at their ROTC programs. But it is a rare occasion that Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets have the opportunity to visit the offices of generals and service secretaries at the Pentagon, said Terrance Williams, a cadet with Howard University's Army ROTC program.
Williams joined Brandon Paquette, a cadet with Georgetown University's Army ROTC program, and Chavez Leonen, a cadet with George Mason University's Army ROTC program, for just such an opportunity, June 13, as part of the Army's 238th birthday celebration.
The three cadets and three professors of military science, including Lt. Col. Paul Kremer from George Mason University, Lt. Col. Michael Donahue from Georgetown University, and Lt. Col. Tyra Sellers from Howard University, toured the Pentagon and had office calls with senior leaders, including Secretary of the Army John McHugh, Director of the Army Staff Lt. Gen. William Troy, and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler.
The visits embodied this year's Army birthday theme: service to the nation, strength for the future. Chandler said the visit with the young officers-in-training provided him a glimpse of the future of Army leadership.
"Young people today have a more open perspective on life, possibly because they are from the digital age," Chandler said. "The way they view the world is different."
He added that the differences those young officers will bring to the table will be an asset to Army leadership, and that today's Soldiers should support them.
"One of the proudest things I've done in my career is mentor young officers," Chandler said, noting that he has mentored hundreds of Soldiers over his Army career.
His advice to Williams, Paquette and Leonen when they get their commissions and arrive at their first duty stations was simple: listen to their non-commissioned officers and seek their help to become better leaders.
"One of the most important things a leader can do is to talk to people -- and listen more than they speak," Chandler said.
At the end of the office call, Chandler presented the cadets with what he called "conditional challenge coins," with the provision that they work closely with their NCOs. He also asked them to do their part.
"Officers bring a different set of skills to a unit, and you can help your NCOs to be better leaders, too," he explained.
Paquette said one of the greatest things about being able to meet with senior Army leadership was seeing how personable they are, and how open they were to answering questions. He said he appreciated their advice on how to be prepared for the unknown and how to be a critical thinker.
The three professors said the cadets were chosen for the office calls by their instructors, based on their performance and future potential.