From February 21 to 22, Derrick Gallegos, Tamara Thevarajah,
and Kaysie Walter attended the National Character and Leader Symposium at the
Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. The symposium theme was “The Silver
Lining: Courage Through Adversity”. The students were assigned cadets as hosts
to spend time with, eat with, and room with.
Derrick’s host, Cadet John Miller, is also a falconer and
showed Derrick where the mascots were kept and trained. Aside from getting to
meet a falcon, Derrick made friends with the Fighting Fourth squadron and even
went Blue’s Dancing.
During the symposium, Tamara went to different breakout
sessions about how to lead. While it sounded redundant for her to say that she
learned about character and leadership at a character and leadership symposium,
that’s exactly what she did.
As someone interested in international work, Tamara listened
to a speaker talk about how he interacted with people in other countries. “He
would just buy a travel book and relate to people on their level,” Tamara said.
After the breakout sessions, Tamara and Kaysie attended the
student consortium together, which consisted of 6 students at a table to
discuss their different perspectives. The tables were made up of visitors and
hosts, civilians and cadets. Most of the talk centered on careers and the
cadets related much of the topics back to their military life.
Tamara and Kaysie shared their experiences as pre-med
students with the cadets. While pre-med students often competed with each other
to be the best, the cadets worked
together, “Like a big family,” Tamara said,
“because of the fact they have to trust each other with their lives.”
When asked about what she took away from the event, Tamara
focused on the people she met there. “Despite all the respectability of the
cadets, they were still really nice, able to have fun, and the Academy was much
more of a fun place than I ever thought before.”