Brig. Gen. Jason E. Kelly, Fort Jackson commander, listens to ROTC Cadets and junior officers during a speed mentorship session, April 21, during the Lt. Gen. Stephen M. Twitty Leadership Development Forum. (Photo Credit: By Nathan Clinebelle)

Fifth annual ROTC forum molds Army's future leaders

By Emily Hileman, Fort Jackson Public Affairs

As Hall of Fame football coach Vince Lombardi said, “Leaders aren’t born, they are made” and several general officers took time April 21 to help make, mold and shape the Army’s leaders of tomorrow.

More than 150 ROTC cadets from across the Carolinas as well as officers and cadre from Fort Jackson filled the post theater to listen to advice and stories from 10 Army general officers during the Lt. Gen. Stephen M. Twitty Leader Professional Development Symposium.

Brig. Gen. Jason E. Kelly, Fort Jackson commander, spoke highly of the various experiences and opportunities available at Fort Jackson, but specifically the leadership opportunity they were experiencing.

“(If) you want to change our Army. You want to be influential in our Army … This is a heck of a place to start,” he said.

“This whole event is about you,” said Lt. Gen. Maria R. Gervais, Training and Doctrine Command’s deputy commanding general, to the assembled officers and cadets, “and us spending time with you to share our knowledge and expertise … You’re going to be able to ask any type of question you have, anything that’s on your mind.”

Gervais challenged everyone in attendance to listen deeply and apply themselves to learning and development, even if the advice may sound like the echoes of voices that advised them in the past.

After each general officer introduced themselves, cadets were able to ask questions pertaining to leadership, challenges, and experiences they all faced throughout their careers.

Capt. Chertaevia M. Clark was grateful for this unique opportunity because she was not given the same opportunities during her ROTC program.

“These generals take time out of their day to come inspire and motivate junior leaders who are coming into the Army,” she said. “For me, this is something I wish I would have had when I was coming up in the Army.”

The opportunity was not lost on any of those in attendance, including Cadet Virginia Howard, a third year ROTC student at the University of South Carolina.

“I’m just very, very lucky to be able to sit in front of all of them and hear what they had to say from their years of service,” Howard said.