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April 23, 2014
Northwest Missouri State University students received some lessons in leadership Tuesday from a group of people whose experiences in life and war have shaped their unique perspectives.
The discussion, led by Brigadier General Christopher Hughes, an officer in charge at the “intellectual center of the universe for the United States Army,” was part of a leadership symposium hosted at Northwest that brought alumni veterans who have served in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts together with Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) cadets and students and Northwest.
Hughes’ emphasized the advantages of being a lifelong learner and the importance of taking risks to become a strong leader. A risk, Hughes noted, implies the risk-taker is educated, trained and has life experiences – unlike a gamble.
“You have to constantly challenge yourself,” he said. “No one person, no one institution, no one individual is going to sit down and teach you leadership unless you’re willing to take risks on your own. That means put yourself in an uncomfortable situation, see how you can react to that situation, and then grow and learn from that situation.”
Hughes serves as the deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center–Leader Development and Education and the Deputy Commandant at the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
He was commissioned in 1983 by the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) at Northwest, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science. In 2011, Hughes delivered the University’s spring commencement address and was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree.
As a native of Red Oak, Iowa, Hughes passes through Maryville regularly and says Northwest represents an important time in his life. Hughes participated in theater and the Bearcat Marching Band, and he was a member of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity. He also met his wife at Northwest.
Reflecting on how his military career has evolved since that time, Hughes said he had no clue 31 years ago that he would someday visit 96 different nations throughout the world, participate in six wars, or lead tens of thousands in combat.
To be successful, Hughes said, college students must embrace the freedom to fail. He encourages students to take courses that are not required or join organizations that expand their knowledge and ability to adapt.
“As you build your comfort with the unknown, the unpredictable of what’s going to happen next, it’s the ability to constantly put yourself in stressful situations,” Hughes said. “So when you find yourself in one that you don’t choose, you have a lot more tricks. The more tricks you have to deal with the unknown, the more innovative, the more adaptive and the more agile you make yourself as a human being.”
Joining Hughes for the symposium and panel discussion were Northwest alumni Maj. Jared Britz and Capt. Colin Crowley as well as Capt. Chris Smiley.
The symposium was coordinated collaboratively by Northwest’s College of Arts and Sciences, the Northwest Alumni Association and the ROTC led by Lt. Colonel Shay Howard.
Northwest, which is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, offers a range of degree and certification programs that benefit military students. Northwest also is VA-approved, gives credit for the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) and DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST). The University follows American Council on Education (ACE) recommendations when granting credit for military experience or from other regionally accredited institutions as transcripts are evaluated by the Office of Admissions.
Last fall, Northwest was named a Military Friendly School for the second consecutive year by Victory Media, a media entity for military personnel transitioning into civilian life, for its reputation of offering a positive experience for military students.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468