Mentoring Future Leaders: The 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team facilitates at the 4th Annual West Point Leadership and Ethics Conference

By 1st Lt. Taylor GrahamApril 10, 2024

 Mentoring Future Leaders: The 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team facilitates at the 4th Annual West Point Leadership and Ethics Conference
Mentoring Future Leaders: The 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team facilitates at the 4th Annual West Point Leadership and Ethics Conference (Photo Credit: 1st Lt. Taylor Graham) VIEW ORIGINAL

“It is crucial that we take time to mentor our younger generation. Soon, these students will be the ones in prominent positions running organizations and our military. These students have the passion to do right and to ensure that our country is on the path of what our Constitution set out to do. I left the West Point Leadership and Ethics Conference (WPLEC) feeling like the future was in good hands”. -MAJ Natalie Mallue, WPLC Moderator, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team

Fort Carson, Colo—At the 4th Annual West Point Leadership and Ethics Conference, a sense of possibility filled the air and the future became brighter. A new generation of leaders gathered to tackle the challenges they may soon face as leaders in the community and beyond. Nevertheless, they had a team of Army Officers with knowledge and mentorship ready to support them as they navigate their path as a future leader.

On April 5, 2024, the Pikes Peak West Point Society and Denver West Point Society hosted their 4th annual West Point Leadership and Ethics Conference (WPLEC) for 200 plus high school students coming from Colorado and neighboring states. The Conference serves as a community outreach, offering young students’ early exposure to the fundamental principles of leadership and ethics. The 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team (1SBCT) provided 5 officer mentors, MAJ Natalie Mallue, CPT Trisha Ramsdell, CPT Megan Zamzow, CPT Kristen Vandeven, and 1LT Taylor Graham to support WPLEC as moderators and group leaders for the high school students.

“It is very important to expose these young students to young officers and former officers to bridge the gap from what they see on a screen about ethics and leadership to real-life scenarios. Young officers, former officers, active duty, alumni, and/or ROTC they all provide a unique perspective that can help shape our next generation of leaders. These moderators allow students to fully conceptualize a lot of the important aspects of leadership and what this will entail for them in the future. The youth needs mentors and they need exposure to leadership and ethics,” said Jace.R.W. Johnson, State Coordinator of West Point Field Admission Field Force, Class of 1981.

The event had several key briefs discussing topics of Leadership, Ethics, Moral Courage, and Decision-Making. Gen. Ret. George Casey, the 36th Chief of Staff of the United States Army, was the keynote speaker for the event. He provided students with his thoughts and experience on leadership and ethics throughout his prominent military career. After each brief, students broke out into small discussion groups breaking these topics down even further. The students engaged in challenging and beneficial discussion that eventually helped guide them towards their own leadership structure and frameworks that will help them in the future.

“There was never a dull moment with the group of high school students I had the opportunity to lead in the small-group discussions. It was truly apparent that these students had a passion to be strong successful leaders in the military. They brought up compelling thoughts and arguments throughout the entirety of the event. I learned so much from a group of young leaders. They had moral courage and the interpersonal fortitude well beyond any highschooler I have met at that age. They all truly have a bright future,” said CPT Megan Zamzow, WPLEC Moderator, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

Many of these students are aspiring professionals in the community with hopes of becoming officers in the military, attend a service academy, and/or be a prominent leader in the community within various career fields. WPLEC was built to not only expose students to leadership concepts but to also provide real life scenarios they may encounter in the future. “The students brought an entirely new perspective to leadership. They weren’t afraid to challenge the norm and I believe that is an important part to standing out as a leader. They had confidence in their own personal voice. The authenticity in how they choose to lead and handle situations was very apparent,” said CPT Trisha Ramsdell, WPLEC Moderator, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team. “I have faith in their character to continue to make those hard decisions even when it may not be favored by those under them. They understand how to choose the harder right over the easier wrong.”

From breaking down the differences between organizational culture and climate to engaging in discussion on “choosing the harder right over the easier wrong”, the Conference provided students the insight on how to be an effective leader. Students left the conference with confidence in their ability to make ethical decisions and with a newfound responsibility on how their actions can shape an organization and/or community.

“It was a humbling experience to sit amongst a group of young aspiring professionals and listen to their conversations when it comes to ethics, leadership, and morality. Each scenario that our group discussed; I learned something new. These kids truly have been given a foundation that’ll pay dividends in the future as the move forward to whatever they may choose for their careers,” said CPT Kristen Vandeven, WPLEC Moderator, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

1SBCT continues in their mission to cultivate, develop, and inspire the future leaders in our formations. We will continue to empower young leaders to ignite positive change in and out of our formations. Together, we will create an even stronger Army and a brighter future.