Virginia Tech Magazine
Corps of Cadets
Summer 2009

by Rewa Mariger
As part of a series about the traits represented by the individual War Memorial pylons, Cadet Ignacious Green of The Bronx, New York, tells his story of getting into the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets (VTCC).

During his time as vice president of his student council and a participant in the Model United Nations through his high school, Green realized his desire to serve in the military. "I wanted to be an Army helicopter mechanic after high school, so I applied to the University of Vermont and their Army Reserve Officer Training Corps program," he says. "After a semester, I realized I wanted something more out of college, so I planned to apply to Texas A&M. On my way to see Texas A&M, we had to pass by Blacksburg and decided to stop by Virginia Tech. Once I saw the campus, I decided I had to attend Virginia Tech."

However, because it was too late to apply to Virginia Tech for that semester, he instead enrolled at New River Community College in Dublin, Va., and applied to Virginia Tech the following semester--but he wasn't accepted. Most students would have given up at the first sign of rejection. Green, however, proactively sought an appeal. Today, the rising junior majoring in public and urban affairs smiles at the memory of that appeal being approved.

Once admitted, Green had to overcome the financial burdens of attending school out-of-state, his delayed entry to a four-year program, and a move to a state far from home to attend a local community college. He also had to begin his college career all over again, in a way, when he started in the corps as a new cadet. Yet rather than feeling bitter, Green was loyal to his ideal of becoming a cadet in the VTCC, a loyalty that came at a price many students would not be willing to pay.

For those who aspire to be leaders, loyalty like Green's should be commonplace. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines being loyal as "unswerving in allegiance, faithful to a cause, ideal, custom, or institution." What's missing from this definition is the concept of perseverance, even if it is costly or disadvantageous.

In terms of leadership, most would argue that loyalty at a price is at the heart of a leader's relationship with his or her subordinates. Those who follow need to know their leader will be loyal to them when it might be hard to stand up to upper management or their peers and will promote their subordinates' leave, raises, or their creative ideas or research. The subordinates unfailingly return that loyalty by spending the extra time to do the job right or going above and beyond expectations.

Cadet Green stayed the course when it was costly for him, and his experience can remind us all that loyalty may come at a price, but it is all the more precious for the price paid.

Rewa Mariger, a former naval officer, is the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets' assistant commandant for recruiting.

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