This past March, with the nomination and generous support of the Jackson Institute, I had the opportunity to attend the McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character in the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

The conference sought to bring together civilian students from multiple universities in the United States with West Point cadets to exchange dialogue on effective and resilient leadership for emerging professionals across fields. We also had the opportunity to hear from and learn under the mentorship of established military, academia, and business leaders, including Pat Swygert, President Emeritus of Howard University, and Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo.

My key takeaway from many conversations with peers and mentors was the place of humility in military as well as civilian leadership. Observing the importance that my cadet peers gave to personal readiness and character development inspired me, and I refined these takeaways by working closely with my mentors Colonel Everett Spain, Head of the Department of Behavioral Sciences at West Point, and Bob McDonald, former Secretary of Veteran Affairs and former CEO of P&G. I am excited to further these relationships.

Beyond enriching conversations, I took part in an early morning physical training with the cadets to try their rigorous indoor obstacle course test and joined them for a sunrise hike to the historical Fort Putnam. Coming from a liberal arts education background, being exposed to this multifaceted military learning style widened my understanding of education in the United States.

Visiting West Point, especially as an international student, was an invaluable learning opportunity. It was a humbling and empowering experience, and I thank the Jackson Institute for opening this door that introduced me to some incredible people.