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With Freedom Comes Responsibility

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2019) Permanent link   All Posts
Derek Silliman

So, at the Academy I see a lot of people struggle with academics. But for me it was different. I really struggled more on the military side of things. I remember entering 4/c year, and completely brain dead from Swab Summer, did not know really what I should do to approach the academic year. This is after being trapped in the unfree environment of Swab Summer for two months, where I was told everything I had to do. I the school year introduced a new set of challenges that I was not use to, and unlike in high school, I struggled to manage my time. I now had to get work done during the day as I did not have as much free time in the evenings. I now had to balance academic work with military responsibilities as well as the basic living responsibilities my parents took care of for me. What helped me get through my first semester as a fourth class was having a good set of leaders who helped me develop into a more effective follower.

The second semester was different. I had to find leadership outside of my immediate superiors for guidance. Probably the big thing I learned second semester at the Academy was that here people are surrounded by good leadership, so if someone is not getting the guidance they are looking for from their immediate superiors, there are plenty of other people they can turn to.

I also learned a lot about the type of leader I want to be, and I think it is important to understand that while leaders have expectations of their followers, followers also have expectations of their leaders. If people care about their followers, I feel it is important to care about what their followers think of them. Coming out of fourth class year and a great summer at both a cutter and a station, I felt in order for leaders to earn the trust and respect of their followers, they have to be observant of the personal challenges and obstacles their followers face beyond what they immediately see.

I have two fourth class of my own now that I am in charge of, and probably the greatest privilege that comes with 3/c year is that now I am in charge of someone else. But this is not just a privilege, it is my greatest responsibility. I think it is very easy, in the chaos of everything, to see how lucky my shipmates and I are to be here, but I feel now that I have made it this far, it is so much easier to remember how fortunate we are.