Thursday December 21, 2017

Leaders Who Serve (With Care)

By Eric F. Spina

Sometimes a quiet moment away from the traditional graduation ceremony can be as joy-filled and every bit as moving as seeing ecstatic graduates, diplomas in hand, hug classmates and families.

I felt that way in Kennedy Union’s packed west ballroom last weekend as four new University of Dayton graduates were commissioned as officers into the U.S. Army after receiving their degrees that morning.

As families and friends watched with pride, Michael Dorski, Hannah Heydinger, Alexandra Nelms, and Michael Wagner each took an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Family members pinned their rank of second lieutenant onto the shoulders of their uniforms. Then, in a tradition that dates back to the 1800s, 86-year-old Charles Philbrick, a veteran of the Korean War, offered the customary “first salute” to Second Lieutenant Hannah Heydinger, who gave him a silver coin as a symbol of trust, respect — and the bond of loyalty between the newly commissioned officers and the enlisted soldiers they will lead. It was quite an emotional moment that spoke of the commitment these young people are making.

As members of the ROTC program, these four officers stood out as some of the most dedicated, disciplined students on campus. Today, they embody what it means to be servant-leaders and remind me of the sacrifices my own father made when he served in World War II.

In my address at the winter commencement exercises earlier that day, I urged our 570 graduates to be partners for the common good. It would be easy, I said, to turn away from the challenges of our times, but University of Dayton graduates are called to be community builders.

Verb Washington, assistant dean for student academic affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences and a retired Army colonel, took those words to heart and reiterated the challenge as: “Cultivate respect, be an agent for the common good, respect everyone and endure. We in the Army love our mnemonic acronyms,” he said, “so with a little creative license, (Dr. Spina) asked you to CARE.”

We live in a tumultuous, complex world that needs UD graduates today more than ever before. Under the mentorship of devoted faculty, they have learned leadership, communication, and critical thinking skills — and will journey through life with an ethical compass.

Michael, Hannah, Alexandra, and Michael: Thank you for being leaders who serve with care. It’s more than duty. It’s your calling.

Suggested Links

Social Media