On March 4, 2016, the West Point Leadership Ethics and Diversity in STEM (LEADS) conference was held at Phoenix Military Academy. Cadets from the United States Military Academy at West Point and other prominent figures visited the school to discuss the importance of making ethical decisions and STEM. to PMA cadets and cadets from various military academies throughout Chicago.
To kick off the event, all cadets who participated were broken off into groups. In their groups, they conducted different tasks lead by the West Point cadets who mentored and guided them throughout the day.
“I was in the Grey Team for the entire day. As a team, we conducted icebreakers, writing assignments, and we thoroughly planned out our skit that we would later perform at the end of the event,” said junior Daisy Bucio.
The teams were integrated with cadets from other military academies such as Marine Leadership Academy, Carver Military Academy, and the Air Force Academy. Even though many of the cadets did not know each other, they were obligated to exhibit teamwork so that they could be recognized as the most superior team.
“Personally, it was hard to work with people who I don’t know because I’m not really good at socializing. However, since my teammates were really cool people, it was easy for me to talk to them. Working with cadets from different schools and meeting new people was a great experience for me,” said Bucio.
As different ideas came together in order to perform activities, such as the group skit, all cadets within each group learned something valuable in working with their group members.
Although discussing leadership and ethics were important topics in many o f the groups, other groups, that consisted of 7th and 8th graders, discussed the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
“I was on the Fire Team, so I was obligated to assist the 7th and 8th graders with the engineering activity they were conducting. Their task was to build a car out of LEGOS, connect the cables to the brain located in the car, and then program the car so that it can drive independently,” said sophomore Carlos Llanes.
Overall, attending the West Point LEADS event educated all of the cadets about how to make insightful decisions when facing ethical dilemmas. Enlightening them about the values of ethics and leadership could help them in real life situations where people’s live could possibly be impacted. Many of the cadets were also informed about the STEM field and how it could open career opportunities for them in the future.