By: Adrienne Vititoe
Friday night, Brig. Gen. Maria Gervais, CBRN School Commandant, captivated members of the Cadet Leadership Course’s (CLC) ninth regiment as she shared tales of her experiences in the Army, the ideals she holds dear and advocates, and the many lessons she learned along the way.
“Leadership is about being able to inspire others,” Gervais said. She then emulated that concept as she proceeded to inspire her audience for the next 45 minutes.
“You have accomplished so much,” Gervais said. “I can look at each and every one of you and see the potential in you.”
Throughout the night, Gervais reinforced to cadets that leadership is comprised of passion, confidence, positivity, character and care – while simultaneously serving as a walking example of all of those things.
Gervais told cadets those characteristics would be essential as they will be presented with challenging situations during their Army careers, but that is what their training has prepared them for.
“You’re better prepared than you will ever know,” she said.
Even with all of their training, there will still be times cadets will not know the answer to a problem, but that is OK, Gervais said.
“You’ve got to think of failure as opportunity,” she said.
Gervais said the reason cadets will be able to get back up after they fall is that they can count on not being alone.
“You’re going to have leaders out there who are going to help develop you,” she said.
At the conclusion of her speech, question after question rolled in from the cadets. Gervais fielded each with great thoughtfulness and poise. One piece of advice in particular will likely ring in cadets’ ears for years to come. It was something her father, who was also in the Army, used to tell her: “The American people love you. We earned it; don’t lose it.”