WASHINGTON (Nov. 14, 2014) -- Howard University recently hosted eight senior Army leaders and more than 300 Army Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets, as part of cadet mentoring and professional development.

Cadets from seven universities with Reserve Officer Training Corps, referred to as ROTC, programs participated. They were: Bowie State, Morgan State, Howard, Georgetown, George Mason, Hampton, and Norfolk State.

"We're here to coach, teach and mentor so you can thrive as Army leaders," said Lt. Gen. Robert S. Ferrell, Army chief information officer/G-6, who led the panel and question-and-answer session.

Based on personal experiences, seven Army generals and a colonel talked about expectations of young officers, leadership challenges, junior officer opportunities in various branches, and "how to be the leader you want others to follow," said Maj. Gen. Gary H. Cheek, assistant deputy chief of staff, G‐3/5/7.

"Words can't even convey the great gratitude I felt when seeing all eight senior leaders who took the time out of their busy schedules to answer our questions," said Cadet Patricia Goldman.

"The amount of knowledge and experience on the forum was exactly what cadets and rising lieutenants need to be successful," said Cadet Cierra Brown. "I took many lessons from this event; the most important being it's not what the Army can do for me, it's what I can offer as a leader for the Army."

When asked what he'd say to his 20-year self, Lt. Gen. James C. McConville, deputy chief of staff, G-1, answered: "Don't worry about what you'll be doing at age 55. Do the best you can now, and worry about your reputation as an officer and team player."

"NCOs are who make an officer successful," he added.

"The Army saw promise in me that I didn't see, and continued to challenge me throughout my career," said Lt. Gen. Flora D. Darpino, Army judge advocate general. "Learn your craft, live your craft, and lead like a craftsman, so others will want to emulate you."

"Ensure your Soldiers do not misunderstand you," said Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick, chief, Corps of Engineers. "Think, be clear, be forceful and follow up."

"I am so proud and motivated by you cadets," said Brig. Gen. Peggy Combs, commanding general of U.S. Army Cadet Command. "You are part of the one percent who signed on to serve, and the 15 percent of the one percent who asked for a leadership role."

"Don't forget where you came from," said Maj. Gen. Luis Visot, chief of staff, Army Reserve. "This is foundational for a leader and includes remembering our oath of office."

"Success also depends on living by the performance triad -- enough sleep, nutrition and activity," said Col. Vinett E. Gordon, deputy chief, Army Nurse Corps, Office of the Surgeon General.

"Cadets, look around," said Ferrell, concluding the discussion. "These individuals are here giving up their time because they believe in being a mentor, and I charge each of you to take advantage of their presence here."

Cadet Dionna Blocker said the forum increased her eagerness to lead Soldiers and taught her several things, to include she still has things to learn about the Army but she is ready to wear "my rucksack of responsibility."

Also participating as mentors were young Army officers, Army veterans and members of ROCKS, Inc. ROCKS is a non-profit organization of mainly African American active-duty, Army Reserve, and retired military officers who work to improve the officer corps.

Howard University President Wayne Frederick and Gracia Hillman, vice president for External Affairs, also addressed the group on the importance of education and leader development. Lt. Col. Crede Lyons, the university's military science professor, organized the event. Howard University is one of 104 Historically Black Universities and Colleges.