Washington, D.C. (June 25, 2016) -- Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps Cadets from across the world took part in a special mentoring session during the JROTC Leadership and Academic Bowl (JLAB) on the campus of The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, June 25.

Maj. Gen. (Retired) Wallace C. Arnold, who served as the second commander of U.S. Army Cadet Command, was the guest speaker Saturday night, and he shared some words of wisdom that he said any Cadet can apply.

"You future is in your hands -- it's not in your mom's hands, it's not in your JROTC instructor's hands -- your future is in your hands," he said. "You are going to have leadership challenges, but the most significant challenge is to lead yourself. If you can be in charge of yourself, and always do the right thing, be disciplined, and make sure your word is a good word, then you will begin to be qualified to lead someone else."

Arnold went on to tell the Cadets that leadership takes personal discipline.

"You have to take charge of the "yeses" and "noes" in your life when nobody is watching you. That's your responsibility and accountability," he said.

He added, endeavoring for academic excellence, being a good citizen, performing community service and being physically fit are all key to that success.

"Some of you have decided that being in a leadership position is a good thing for you. You're now where you want to take on some of the tough things because you're in charge of yourself," he said. "You want to readily volunteer for things. You hold your hand up to do the difficult things, and I know you've done that because you're here at the academic and leadership bowl."

Once learned, leadership can be a lifetime habit, said Arnold.

"If you're doing the right things, your goals are going to start to change. You won't just be looking at tomorrow or next week, but you will be looking much farther ahead in your life," said the Hampton University alumnus. "You will decide that you are going to be a high achiever. Once you do that, a higher education starts to be a goal because your focus starts to change to professional and career aspirations."

Once on the path to leadership, Cadets should continually strive for excellence, said Arnold.

"Be confident, but not overconfident," he advised. "When you are in a leadership position, you not only have to spend a lot of time training your Soldiers, but you have to spend the time to train yourself. You have to be just as prepared as your troops are."

Before wrapping up his speech, Arnold challenged the Cadets to take the skills they learn in JROTC as far as their dreams will allow.

"It's a distinct honor, to serve your country as a leader. When you start meeting the challenges of leading, it becomes a lifetime adventure and it takes over," he said. "It's a commitment; you get it in your blood. You may take off your uniform, but you never lose the desire to be a leader.

"Your future is bright because you can become young leaders in the future, it's bright because you have the chance to military, governmental and civic leaders," added Arnold. "As you proceed to finish high school, establish a goal that's taller than you are, that you have to jump up to get there. But as you jump, remember there's air that can get pumped under you, and you can reach those goals that you didn't think you could reach."