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Emerging Global Leaders Malique Lewis ’24 and Julius Rauch ’24 Gain Valuable Skills at Prestigious West Point Conference
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a training ground that produces the country’s next generation of military leaders.
For three days earlier this spring, two of the University’s emerging student leaders—Malique Lewis ’24 and Julius Rauch ’24—were granted an opportunity to observe and learn from cadets and military leaders during the annual McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character. Their day-to-day lives are examples of the hard work, dedication and determination required of a leadership role in the military.
In their own distinct ways, Lewis and Rauch lead by example on campus. Lewis, a Posse Scholar, is the co-creator and co-founder of the Black Student Union who has served as chief of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility and chief of staff for the Student Government Association. He’s also an engagement associate for Hendricks Chapel.
Rauch, a member of the national championship-winning men’s soccer team, is a leader on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. His commitment to academic success netted him the Elite 90 award from the National Collegiate Athletics Association for having the highest GPA in the country, the first Orange student-athlete to earn the honor.
The lessons learned and experiences gained at the McDonald Conference were both affirming and life-changing for Lewis and Rauch, who emerged from the three-day conference feeling motivated to be agents of change on campus and in the community.
“I learned so much. In everything you do in life, lead honorably, hold your peers accountable and don’t give up on someone when they come up short. We need more of that in society. We all have duties to carry out. When you live honorably, like the West Point cadets do, you’re doing something bigger than yourself,” says Lewis, a junior studying communications and rhetorical studies in the College of Visual and Performing Arts.
“Walking around West Point, talking with the cadets, you just see it everywhere. Their leadership stands for duty, honor and country. It was such an amazing and immersive experience,” adds Rauch, a sophomore double major in entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises and finance in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management.
“The biggest takeaway was, if you really want to be successful in any organization, lead by example and be the change you wish to see in the community, take care of the people you work with. It’s about how many changes you can make and how those changes will affect the people around you,” Rauch says.
The annual McDonald Conference aims to bring together a diverse and talented group consisting of some of the best undergraduate student leaders from across the world to meet with and learn from senior military leaders who can serve as their mentors.
The result? Attendees like Lewis and Rauch honed their leadership, critical thinking and collaboration skills, emerging with a newfound appreciation for leaders doing the right thing, even when that task is arduous.
“My definition of leadership is that leaders help create more leaders, so I wanted to learn as much as I could about leadership at West Point and bring it back to campus,” Lewis says. “When we have these experiences, when we are given these amazing opportunities, it’s our obligation to share that wisdom and help everyone understand the lessons we learned and share that knowledge with our community. That’s how we create a better world.”
Leadership lessons were also delivered by two of the conference’s keynote speakers, Mark Shapiro, president and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays, and Seema R. Hingorani, managing director and strategic client and talent engagement lead at Morgan Stanley Investment Management. The attendees heard their perspectives on effective leadership, engaged in a Q&A with the speakers, then discussed the key takeaways in small breakout sessions.
Rauch and Lewis were both struck by the profound lessons taught on the importance of leaders holding themselves (and their peers) accountable for their actions while not making excuses when things don’t pan out.
“I see it as my obligation to help as much as I possibly can here on campus. To do that, I need to learn to take full ownership of everything that happens,” says Rauch, believed to be the only Division I student-athlete invited to attend the conference. “If you take ownership, you work even harder because there’s no room for excuses. Being a good person and working as hard as you possibly can—together, those two things are the formula for success.”