Corps freshman stay focused with new Leadership Development Program

Cadet Pvt. Keith Jefferies uses study habits taught in the CAM/LDP program.

Cadet Pvt. Keith Jefferies uses study habits taught in the CAM/LDP program.

Norwich founder Alden Partridge believed in both education and leadership for every student at Norwich University. This year, Norwich put a new emphasis on that mission with the start of the Leadership Development Program (LDP).

Norwich instituted the program teaching leadership to freshman rooks using cadre to teach the course. The idea was promoted by the late peg Meyer, a beloved instructor and advocate for leadership development, who died last July. The program continued in her stead and now is being led by Tracy Hill and Frank Vanecek, vice president of student affairs.

The program works through after-class instruction, given by one of the 10 or so cadre staff, who teach roughly eight rooks each They meet throughout the week for about 25 minutes a session.

The idea behind this program is to teach the freshmen the needed leadership skills for their next year, and to allow the sophomores to implement skills they learned the year before.

According to Vanecek, the late Peg Meyer spearheaded LDP last year but after she died unexpectedly of a brain aneurysm, the project was put on hold. It encompasses not only the LDP, but also the Leadership Development Experience, and so finding a new leader would be a tough proposition.

“The biggest impact she had was her excitement and commitment to the whole program and her views of Norwich,” said Sean Wynot, a construction engineer management major from Portsmouth, N.H.

The 22-year-old senior and Corporal Academic Mentor (CAM) program officer-in-charge said of Meyer’s program that, “she wanted it to create successful graduates. She was a big part of the CAM program with making sure freshmen had the right morals and habits to carry on to later years.”

“Peg Meyer passing away was a huge loss for Norwich. She was the type of person who was involved with the leadership programs because she truly cared about students, professional development, and the founding values that Alden Partridge had in mind when he first conceived the idea of Norwich. She had a wide-based knowledge on the psychology of leadership and what it takes to be a leader,” said Zac Milesky, 22, a senior communications major from Brewster, Mass.

Wynot, like many students, worked with Peg Meyer over last summer. He believes in the program as much as she did and proves it through taking his job seriously and helping the freshmen.

“It seems like in the past freshmen weren’t getting recognized until April or early May, and this year is the first year they are being recognized at the beginning of the semester, which allows us as senior leaders to develop the freshmen into leaders themselves before they move into sophomore year.”

According to Wynot, the chain of command starts with administration. “We were wondering if we should go with bigger groups or smaller groups so there is more interaction between freshmen.”

The LDP used the same staff from CAM, but used the senior level leadership more readily with oversight for sophomore corporals. Faculty advisors watch over the program.

According to Nick Weidner, a 20-year-old junior engineering major from Chicago Ill., the chain of command for him starts with Tracy at the top, Sean Wynot, Edmund Hayes, and then himself. There are three other juniors involved in the program.

“My job essentially is oversight. I am far less active this semester than last. At this point the focus is on developing the sophomores who will become NCOs next year.”

“I am the second in command of the cadets out of the program. I manage the staff, I am directly in charge of six of the staff sergeants that I have helping me”, said Edmund Hayes, 20, a junior civil engineering major from Chicago Illinois.

Hayes said his freshmen year with CAM was a great experience, giving him a reason to become a part of the program his sophomore year. “My CAM was awesome. Everyone wants to be a part of a program, and make it awesome. I think the ones who are really going to get leadership experience out of this are the sophomores”.

Weidner explained that the freshmen are learning their skills right now, while the sophomores are implementing the skills they have already gained. The experience is beneficial to both the sophomores as well as the freshmen. “Each week we meet for an hour on Tuesday afternoons. There will be leadership- building activities. This will build each year to getting a leadership certificate which they will receive once they graduate”, Wynot said.

Hayes explained that the sophomores are the ones who would be benefiting the most through the program, by using their leadership skills with the freshmen.

“The plan would be to keep the rising freshmen involved in a mandatory way,” Weidner said, adding that civilians are a part of the new program also. According to Wynot, both lifestyles are trying to be incorporated, but it is much harder to get the civilian side involved due to lack of interest. Civilians, unlike the cadets, are free to do as they please, and it is even more difficult to include commuter students, he said.

“I think the Leadership Development Program is a valuable experience if only because it will validate my leadership training with a certification” said Liam Carroll, 19, a political science major from Hudson, Mass. While participation in the program is mandatory and it may need some work, it is a beneficial experience for rising freshmen, he said.

The “murky” area of the program with commuter students could be that they’re simply unaware. Rebecca White, a 19-year-old, sophomore psychology major from Concord, Mass., says she had no clue this even existed. “I think with being off-campus I wasn’t told about it. I guess it could be a great opportunity.”

White went on to say that she knew about a program to help the sophomores, like tutoring, but was too busy with her schedule to volunteer.

“I think that when you come here you should have to do some sort of training so you can come out with experience and when people look at you as a Norwich graduate and expect some sort of distinction. Now you have something to back it up with,” said Milesky, who has gained leadership experience through the corps and will be graduating this May.

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