MARIETTA, OHIO (12/20/2017) For three McDonough Leadership scholars, the spring semester will begin like normal, but after just one week of classes, they will depart campus again, not for home but for Annapolis, Maryland, where the 2018 The U.S. Naval Academy Leadership Conference is being held from Jan. 21-24.
Emily Brown '19 (Cincinnati, Ohio), Ashley Olszewski '20 (Elyria, Ohio) and Ryan VanMeter '20 (Maysville, West Virginia) will represent Marietta College and the McDonough Center for Leadership and Business as they attend the conference, which has the mission to bring together the best minds in the practice and study of leadership to exchange ideas, experiences, and methodologies with both military and civilian undergraduate students of leadership.
For Olszewski and VanMeter, the theme of this year's conference, "Breaking Barriers: Obstacles Are Opportunities," particularly resonated with them as they continue to increase their involvement and the number of leadership roles they hold at Marietta.
"This year's theme stuck out to me because right now in my career, as a biochemistry major, I am taking very hard classes that have presented a unique set of difficulties and opportunities," Olszewski said. "I have had to reevaluate my priorities, and in doing so, I have been given new leadership opportunities. This conference will help to give me the skills and knowledge to overcome obstacles I may encounter in these new leadership positions."
A further description of the conference theme states that, "Through learning to capitalize on their leadership traits, delegating appropriately to promote the growth of others, and deciding when and how to promote change, the participants in the Naval Academy Leadership Conference 2018 will gain the tools needed to overcome the various obstacles presented in their path toward success."
VanMeter believes further learning about such skills at the conference that are often touched up in the leadership courses taught within the McDonough Center will help him throughout his time as a member of the football team at Marietta and life.
"Learning how to be a great leader in really stressful situations in both football and life will be a great thing," he said. "In athletics, as I become a leader on the team, and in academics with exams, interviews and busy schedules, there's a variety of high-stress situations I can find myself in. I hope to continue to learn how to keep things under control so that I feel I'm set for academics, athletics and life."
As a junior, Brown saw attending the conference as a way to continue to further her leadership education now that her time studying it in the classrooms of McDonough are over.
"I applied for the conference because I am always interested in learning more about leadership and followership," she said. "I appreciate being able to remain a part of McDonough and take advantage of the opportunities the program has to offer."
Upon a quick review of the list of speakers and moderators at this year's conference, neither Brown, Olszewski nor VanMeter should struggle to learn more about leadership.
Some of the speakers and moderators in attendance this year include Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Madeline Albright and U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James Conway.
In addition to expanding upon their leadership scholarship, Brown and VanMeter are eager to explore possible next steps in their academic and professional careers.
"As I consider possible paths for my future, I am considering where my degrees in Health Science and International Leadership Studies can take me, and I know that the U.S. Navy has a particularly impressive PA program," Brown said. "I was excited about the opportunity to be involved with the Navy through this conference, to meet the leaders who are serving our country and gain a greater understanding of what a future with the Navy may look like."
With recent interest in possibly pursuing a career as a Naval Officer, VanMeter said he is excited to learn more about what the Navy and the Academy in Annapolis.
No matter their future affiliations with the Navy, all three Marietta delegates are eager to apply their leadership studies and be active participants throughout the conference.
"I am very excited to get to know my fellow delegates and apply what I have learned in the leadership program to discussions that will occur during this conference," Olszewski said.
Since 1984, the Naval Academy has hosted an annual leadership conference for senior cadets and midshipmen from each of the service academies. In 2002, the conference expanded to include students from civilian universities and broadened its scope to include leadership topics relevant to government, business, and academia, as well as the military.