WFU School of Business Seniors Value Experience at 2023 Service Academies Leadership Conferences

Lessons on leadership and followership, lifetime friendships, impactful speakers, and unforgettable discussions with peers are among the valuable sentiments shared by our Service Academies Leadership Conference attendees.  Each year the Allegacy Center for Leadership and Character sponsors WFU School of Business undergrads to attend a Service Academies Leadership Conference. Our 2023 undergraduates participated in the US Naval Academy Leadership Conference, the US Air Force Academy National Character and Leadership Symposium, and the US Military Academy McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character. Leading with integrity, humility, grit, perseverance, and knowing how to follow were common themes at this year’s conferences.

In January, the US Naval Academy Leadership Conference was held in Annapolis, Maryland, where the theme was: Returning With Honor: Trials to Triumph.  Seniors Gavin McDonough and Camille Dutto shared a few of their takeaways from the conference:


  • View setbacks as opportunities to learn
  • Resilience and grit, coupled with having a solid support system, can impact one’s leadership journey
  • Leaders are doers
  • Effective leaders must also be good followers

In February, the US Air Force Academy National Character and Leadership Symposium was held in Colorado, where seniors Alex Dicke and Steven Niepa brought back many impactful leadership practices. A valuable takeaway for Alex was, “Outstanding leadership is fundamentally about how one frames their thoughts.  Thoughts become actions, and actions turn into behaviors, behaviors to habits, and as one attribute leads to the next, you evolve as a leader.” Likewise, Steven was moved by the message:  Know Your Why and Be Humble – following these principles will guide you to become a better leader, disciple, and student. 


A senior Business and Enterprise Management major, Jazmin Aguilar attended the US Military Academy McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character at West Point. One important concept that stood out to Jazmin was peer-to-peer leadership. “I learned how to create relationships with my peers. Being a leader is not always hierarchical. It is important to consider how to be a good peer but balance it with leadership,” recalls Jazmin.

The Allegacy Center for Leadership and Character accepts nominations each fall from Wake Forest School of Business undergraduate faculty and staff for the Service Academies Leadership Conference.  In the spring, a luncheon was held to recognize and celebrate each young leader on completing the program. Dr. Pat Sweeney, Executive Director of the ACLC, and Dr. Kenny Herbst, Dean of Undergraduate Business, enjoyed students’ impact statements and powerful reflections.