NROTC travels to Notre Dame for leadership conference

Alex Connor

Several midshipmen from the Naval ROTC units skipped town this past weekend to attend a Naval Leadership Conference hosted by the University of Notre Dame.

The conference is an annual event used to learn and discuss critical issues pertaining to the midshipmen’s roles as future leaders in their designated field, both within the Marine Corps and Navy.

Leaving at 7 a.m. Thursday and returning at 1:30 p.m Sunday, five ISU midshipmen got the chance to hear from several guest speakers, learn tools to be successful and obtain information that will provide them a platform once they become officers in their designated branch.

This was the 21st consecutive year the conference has taken place and because of lodging restraints, only 125 midshipmen from across the country could attend.

The conference consisted of six mini-leadership conferences, each with distinguished speakers, a focused panel discussion, ethical decision games and team-building activities. The weekend ended Saturday night with the final keynote speaker dinner.

The guest speakers for the conference included Adm. Philip Davidson, Maj. Gen. James Lukeman, Rear Adm. Peter Gumataotao, Rear Adm. John Kirby, Sgt. Maj. Justin LeHew, Capt. Paul Rinn and Mike Seaman.

Some retired, active duty and civilian, the speakers’ roles in the Armed Forces ranged anywhere from being the U.S. Fleet Forces Command for the Navy to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Policy.

Midshipman Joseph Rauenhorst, senior in industrial technology, went to the conference for the first time and said the whole experience was motivating.

“All of the speakers spoke very bluntly about the different leadership challenges we will face as junior officers in the Navy and Marine Corps,” Rauenhorst said. “They also gave us different tops and shared their experiences to help us overcome those challenges.”

One of his favorite speakers was Rinn, who was the commanding officer of the USS. Samuel B. Roberts when the ship struck a mine.

“It was fascinating to listen to him speak because after the incident models were ran and they all said the ship was supposed to sink,” Rauenhorst said. “However, because of the leadership and the hard work of the sailors, they fought the ship and saved it.”

His largest takeaway from the weekend was his importance as a future leader and junior officer.

“As a leader it is important to take care of your sailors or marines,” Rauenhorst  said. “They are what will determine your success or failure.”

Lisa Freeman, senior in aerospace engineering, also went to the conference for the first time this year.

She decided to go because she heard from everyone who went last year that they really enjoyed it.

Freeman, like Rauenhorst, learned it is important to take care of your subordinates. 

“Let them know you care and ensure they have everything they need to complete the mission,” Freeman said.