The speeches varied, but the theme of the messages followed similar paths at the Culver Women’s Celebration and Culver Annual Review ceremonies last week.
The theme of the CWC was “Own It,” with four speakers laying out their thoughts on women controlling their personal narratives and not letting others dictate how they should feel or think about themselves.
For CMA, Brig. Gen. Richard S. Miller (Indiana National Guard, Ret.) told the cadets that to be effective leaders, they must first be good people morally, ethically, and be of high integrity. What they are learning at Culver “is the foundation of everything you will do as an adult,” he said.
Humanities instructor Raegan Russell told the CGA students that owning it to her was controlling your story. She learned the importance of storytelling through playing Dungeons and Dragons, where players control their character’s narratives, when she was younger.
People should share their stories, she said, and practice speaking “your truth.” Tell stories every day.
Kelly Earl-Leeper, the mother of Kaitlyn Leeper ’19, said it is important for the girls to love “who you are in order to be able to do anything else.” She also told the girls the importance of getting to do what you want to instead of what you have to.
As the director of communications for Ascent 121, an Indianapolis non-profit that provides long-term trauma care for teen survivors of sex trafficking, she has seen how those young women feel ashamed and depressed. That is why each girls needs to “love who you are inside and out.”
Deanie Elsner, the mother of Delaney Elsner ’21 and an executive with Kellogg’s, gave the girls points to remember:
- Set your destination professionally and personally. That will be your anchor for all the decisions to come.
- Define your “super power” and keep doing it so you get better.
- Build your team with friends who are “truth tellers,” people who will keep you focused.
- Take calculated risks. You may stumble and skin your knees. But understand you can’t be great all the time.
- And learn to motivate and inspire others.
Senior Avery Bolden ’19 (Chicago) said as one of only two black girls in her class, she has had to create “a space for me and space for girls who look like me” on campus.
She told the girls it is important to reflect on the question: “What do you want to show the world?”
She added that it is OK to be afraid, but don’t live in fear. Because, quoting Dale Carnegie, “fear is only in our mind.”
Gen. Miller told the cadets that they already have an advantage over many of their peers because of the education and leadership training they are receiving now. Learning about values now will help them handle “the challenges yet to be identified.”
They must pay attention to the principles of leadership, he said, and have self-confidence to act on them.
It is important for the cadets to take counsel from their peers when it comes to making decisions, Miller said, but they should make that decision and accept the responsibility for the outcome.
But remember that “life happens” and not every decision will be correct. But making a decision and accepting the consequences will keep those “Demons of the Night” from waking you up at 3 a.m., he explained.
“You’re gonna be successful,” Miller added. The same values and principles being taught at Culver are the same ones you will be judged by in job interviews and evaluations for the rest of your life.