In June 2016, Lieutenant Colonel Dan “Gump” Finnegan and I were selected to partake in a unique senior military development opportunity at Norwich University's College of Graduate and Continuing Studies (CGCS). Dr. Stacie Morgan, Executive Director of Norwich University's Leadership and Change Institute (LCI) and Director of the Master of Science in Leadership program, worked with senior Vermont Air National Guard leaders to design a fellowship program for National Guard members to apply their War College courses toward receiving a Master of Science in Leadership degree. Additionally, the fellows work with the LCI on special projects to support the LCI, CGCS, and Norwich.
Gump and I were honored to have been selected to be the first LCI fellows, and we immediately took advantage of the vast array of learning opportunities afforded to us. In addition to enhancing our professional education through the degree program’s exceptional leadership curriculum, we were given behind the scenes access to Todd Lecture Series presenters and Colby Writers Symposium authors as guests of President Schneider. We had the opportunity to interact with a multitude of prominent military, government, and civilian leaders, which helped broaden our perspective and challenge our preconceived notions. Additionally, we supported a variety of projects to help launch the LCI, and we were involved in presenting leadership classes to undergraduate students as part of Norwich’s Advanced Leadership Certificate program. While those experiences were valuable to our growth as leaders, the highlight of the fellowship program was the time we spent with Dr. Morgan and Gen (Ret.) Gordon Sullivan helping research information for a book they are co-authoring entitled Keeping Hope Alive. To have the chance to spend hours discussing leadership with a former General and Chief of Staff of the Army was a remarkable experience which taught us invaluable lessons that enhanced our knowledge and leadership skills.
In June 2017, Gump and I took part in the Residency Conference and graduated with the CGCS Class of 2017. I think it is fitting that we were part of this leader development program during Norwich’s Year of Leadership; I learned more about leadership in the last twelve months than in the past 20 years of military leadership education and experience. We are now better equipped to lead the women and men of the Vermont Air National Guard as they support state and local governments while preparing to defend the nation. Furthermore, we were able to lead the way in identifying details that will allow the fellowship program to continue to grow so Norwich can continue its proud tradition of educating citizen-soldiers (and airmen) for the state of Vermont and for the United States of America.
-- Lt Col Corby Myles