Fort Jackson brought together senior Army leaders and ROTC cadets from 18 eastern colleges and universities, Feb. 5 for a day focused on mentorship and leader development. Army generals participated in the virtual event to lead, inspire and motivate future leaders of the Army including several with ties to South Carolina.The fourth annual event included a panel discussion with junior officers and speed mentoring with the generals.“COVID-19 has changed how we do things, not what we do," said Fort Jackson Commander Brig. Gen. Milford H. “Beags” Beagle, Jr. “Because we are holding this leader development session virtually, we are excited to add more senior ROTC programs to this popular leader development event.”The goal was to enhance the leadership capabilities of future Army officers and create ties between past leaders and future commanders. As they both interact, cadets learn from broad ranges of experience to help prepare them for the challenges ahead in their own careers.This event began at South Carolina State University in 2018 where more than 200 cadets from seven ROTC battalions participated. This event was held at Fort Jackson the last two years due to the post’s central location where cadets could easily commute for a day of mentoring. The symposium was originally developed and orchestrated by Lt. Gen. Stephen M. Twitty, a native of Chesnee, South Carolina.Fifteen Army generals attended virtually this year and roughly 200 cadets from 18 schools, including schools from North and South Carolina, Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.The symposium opened with moderator, Maj. Rodney Jackson, Assistant Professor of Military Science, South Carolina State University speaking about the adjustment of doing a virtual event rather than meeting at Fort Jackson.“We, like many Army leaders before, have adapted to our environment with the intent to succeed in our mission,” he said. “We will not fail in providing this rare mentorship experience for our cadets.”.Jackson was followed by Beagle’s giving his welcome remarks.“People are Army’s number one priority and development of our leaders and our future leaders is clearly linked to this priority,” said Beagle, who graduated from South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, to the participating cadets. “We have 15 general officers with us today who have all put their hectic schedules aside just because of you. An investment in all of you is an investment that all of our leaders have for you without hesitation.”Beagle told the cadets that their main task during the symposium was to ask questions and assured them that there were no dumb questions. He also encouraged them to take lots of notes and listen.“A lot of you will hear things today that can be applied immediately,” he said. “If not, you can certainly learn a lot of things that you can use over the course of your career.”Following Beagle, Maj. Gen. John Evans Jr., commander of the U.S. Army Cadet Command, also had words of encouragement for the cadets in attendance.“I know the talented senior leaders on our panel today have much to share,” he said. “It’s up to you to take away these lessons and add them to your long list of tools that you must eventually master to be great Army commanders.”Next, Lt. Gen. Leslie Smith, the Army’s Deputy Inspector General, spoke to everyone about building trust in the formation, and competing against the standard. He stressed the importance of not putting someone else down in order to move forward. He urged cadets to focus on what it means to be an Army professional.“We’re here to help you. We’re proud of you guys and I’m looking forward to spending time with you,” he said.Finally, the last of the opening remarks came from Gen. Paul Funk II, commander of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. “I started in Junior ROTC in 1976, so this is in my blood and I don’t know anything else, and thank goodness I get to talk to the next generation of leaders and shape them a bit as they get ready to go,” he said.Funk also recognized the winners of the cadet writing contest: Cadet Matthew Levengood, Georgetown University in Washington D.C. (1st place); Cadet Chloe Wawerek, Georgetown University (2nd place); Cadet Magic Iyore, Campbell University (3rd place tied); Cadet Samuel Hanson, Wake Forest University (3rd place tied). A sample of the writing can be found on Page XX.The essays were graded out of four categories: Purpose: “Bottom line up front;” Voice: (Syntax) Effective Sentence Constructions; Concision: The Most Information in the Least Space; and Accuracy: Reducing Reader Distractions.The first part of the symposium gave the cadets an opportunity to ask questions of company grade officers. This panel of officers gave direct feedback immediately and were able to draw on experience gained in the many different branches they represented.After the company grade officer panel, cadets went into different virtual rooms for speed mentoring sessions with the many general officers participating in the symposium. During these sessions, cadets were once again allowed to ask questions and get answers immediately.There were four speed mentoring sessions, each with different groups of cadets getting to ask general officers questions such as: time management; finding success; and what advice they would give to new junior officers.“The way the logic goes, you fail, you learn, you grow … its how you recover from those things,” Beagle said before a speed mentoring session with cadets from Clemson University.Beagle also shared the story of being a lieutenant and meeting with his first battalion commander, who gave him his nickname “Beags.” After Beagle told him he wanted to be a general officer, this battalion commander invested 40 minutes of his time to share advice on what he could do to reach that goal.“He had made a huge investment in me of his time so now I’m almost believing that’s in the realm of the possible … just the power of a conversation, I think, got me to where I am,” Beagle said.