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Leading Through Adversity - Wetmore Ethics Forum

Written by First Class Cadet Walter Gnann and
Second Class Cadet Alexandra Sinkov

March 31, 2021

cadet in Leamy HallThe U.S. Coast Guard Academy Corps of Cadets attend the 31st Annual Rear Adm. Wetmore Ethics Forum, March 10, 2021. (USCG photos by First Class Cadet Jordan Park.)

NEW LONDON, Conn – Cadet life changed at the Coast Guard Academy when the Covid-19 pandemic impacted academics and mainstay military and leadership development events.

While the Academy had to defer many events and postpone others due to Covid guidelines and protocols, the Corps of Cadets, in conjunction with the Loy Institute for Leadership, was still able to host the 31st Rear Admiral Wetmore Ethics Forum on March 10, 2021.

The scope and format of the Ethics Forum has changed greatly over time. Today, the event features a series of moderated conversations and leadership panels. As RADM Bill Kelly, Academy Superintendent stated in his opening remarks, “The mission of the Wetmore Ethics Forum is to provide cadets, in a non-academic setting, with opportunities to discuss ethical issues and leadership challenges with experienced civilian, government, and military leaders, reinforce the importance of ethical decision making and leadership in their professional and personal lives, and present cadets with an opportunity to develop ethical decision making skills that will be needed as Coast Guard officers by broadening perspectives, challenging current beliefs, and emphasizing ethical decision making in adverse situations.”

The theme of the 31st Ethics Forum was “Leading Through Adversity,” and speakers presenting in-person, via livestream, and pre-recorded media, spoke and shared conversation with cadets as they brought their own unique lens to view the theme from. The Academy hosted Mr. Anthony Robles, a single-legged NCAA wrestling champion and world record holder, Mr. Patrick Green and Dr. Oliver Mayorga from Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, and New London Mayor Michael Passero, in addition to other distinguished guests and leaders. This arrangement made the Ethics Forum unique in the history of the Academy as organizers utilized various technological platforms to reduce in-person attendance to speakers while not sacrificing the audience’s involvement in the conversation.

Over 1,000 Coast Guard cadets, in addition to cadets from Virginia Military Institute, the U.S. Naval Academy, and the U.S. Military Academy participated in the day’s events. Broad participation centered on important conversations that challenge one’s beliefs are critical to the development of ‘Leaders of Character’ and a key tenant of the Ethics Forum.

The recorded presentations are available on Vimeo.