An annual one day interactive peer-led seminar for high school students to explore the foundations of ethical leadership.

The Minnesota Student Leadership Seminar is a unique opportunity for Minnesota High School Students in that small group discussions about ethics and leadership are led by peers - cadets from West Point and from Minnesota ROTC programs. These cadets are specially trained to facilitate difficult discussions about honor, values, ethics and how these concepts tie into leadership.

Students are encouraged to explore their personal values - the guideposts that they can use as they make decisions for themselves and for others. Understanding beliefs and internalizing a personal code of conduct is a first step to becoming the kind of strong leader that others will trust and follow in good times and bad.

The annual MNSLS always begins with a keynote speech by a Minnesotan who is a leader of character. Past speakers have been leaders in business, academia, professional sports, non-profits, and media.

The intensive day concludes with parting remarks from one of the cadet facilitators. Below is an excerpt from the inagural Minnesota Student Leadership Seminar.

Ethics starts today.
I think that a lot of us whether we are in high school or college we kind of feel like we are in that training period of life and we haven’t really started anything and that the decisions we make don’t really count.

That is not true. The decisions you make in high school and college, they lead into the future. All we have to do is turn on the news today and we see people in their 40s and 50s…and everyone we see on the news, I guarantee that they made an unethical decision at some point in their life and no one stepped up to correct them. There wasn’t a buddy to pat them on the back and say “Hey, you screwed up on that one. I know you’re still a good person and you have a lot in you, but you gotta change.”

Your school is full of students. They don’t need another student. They need leaders. They need someone to step up and fill that role. Hold others to a standard. It is one thing to hold yourself to a standard. That is easy. I can keep myself from cheating all that I want. The hard part is going out and making sure that your buddies do it. It is not because you want it out for them. It is because you want something better for them. Because some day you don’t want to turn on the news and say “Wow, I could have helped that guy. I was there and I could have started something special in that guy and I could have told him Today is the day.”

-Cadet Sarah Johnson, Honor Captain, 2009 MNSLS Cadet
Speaker

The Minnesota Student Leadership Seminar is hosted by the West Point Society of Minnesota, an organization of West Point allumni living and working in Minnesota.

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