Hampton, VA. – There is strength in numbers. That’s what Hampton University students learned while attending the National Conference on Ethics in America (NCEA).
“I wanted the students to have the opportunity to interact with other students, Army ROTC, and civilians from 40 universities to discuss their views on and experience with selfless service,” said Dr. Sharon Hamilton, Deputy Director of the William R. Harvey Leadership Institute.
To ensure that future students are given the same opportunities Dr. Desiree Williams, Director of the Leadership Institute, is calling on the university and the community for their continued financial support.
“We met and developed relationships with faculty from other higher education institutions who shared our focus on developing leadership in their students and providing experiential leadership opportunities and internships. In addition, we received course and reference materials from the U.S. Military Academy, Simon Center for the Professional Military Ethic. We plan to incorporate that into our Summer High School Leadership Summit,” said Dr. Williams.
Three Leadership Institute Fellows, Dominique Daly, Darrius Summer and Kenyatta Wheeler, attended the event along with three HU Army ROTC students.
The conference helped students gain a greater appreciation for selfless service and the impact it has on unifying communities.
“It was an invaluable experience to be amongst future military and civilian leaders from all over the country and from different walks of life discussing our views on ethics, service, and the current state of America,” said Kenyatta Wheeler. “This conference offered a variety of distinguished guest speakers, thought provoking table discussions, and plenty of time to mingle, make connections, and network.”
The conference included speakers from various community and military organizations including Sheena Wright, President and CEO of the United Way in New York City, Rajiv Vinnakota, Executive Vice-President of the Youth & Engagement Division of the Aspen Institute and Retired General Ray Odierno, 38th Chief of Staff of the Army.
Wright told students, “Continue to be learners. Spend time learning about the issues of the day, not just what touches you personally. My appreciation of my unique gifts compelled me to take action and give.”
"Learn how to argue joyfully. Boldly seek access to change society," said Vinnakota.
“People may not always remember what you did, but they will remember how you made them feel,” said Gen. Odierno.
Those words compelled students at HU to challenge themselves. For the next 6 months, Wheeler plans to get more involved with the community and seek out new avenues to serve those in need.
“This conference will challenge your thinking, provide you with a new perspective, and inspire you to make a commitment to service for the rest of your life,” she said.
“The NCEA was a very enlightening experience,” said Dominique Daly. I gained insight on many topics that I don’t typically discuss within my major. As a civilian, I was able to meet different leaders and interact with cadets and students from schools across the nation. During the table discussions, we were able to discuss several hot topics such as: ethical decisions regarding the United States prison system, gentrification, immigration, and education.”
Within his group, Daly helped create solutions to increase community involvement and unity.
He continued to say, "I would tell students chosen to attend this conference to seize every opportunity. Ask questions. Network with the participants from the program. Be prepared to share your voice. Due to the small numbers of minority participants, any Hampton participant needs to be flexible and understand that they are not only representing their home institution, but they have the potential to deflect any negative perceptions others may have on HBCU and minorities in leadership."
“I learned several soft skills and how to apply them to diverse backgrounds,” said Darrius Summers. “Being one of the few students from a non-military background, I provided a different perspective from the civilian standpoint. I learned about drive, dedication, and perseverance. The most important lesson I learned at the conference was the importance of being optimistic and appreciating diversity. We had several conversations on ethics, morals, the moral compass, and religion. All of which are never ending lessons that a leader must harness in order to grow. We found that everyone has their own practices and beliefs and these concepts cannot be defined in one definition. The conference showed me that as a leader, I have to understand diversity and different perceptions of subordinates prior to leading them. The table discussions were by far my favorite part of the conference because it put a lot of the key concepts into perspective. I intend to follow up with the individuals at my table and continue growth and discussion amongst our group chat.”