Lancaster, Pa., native wins Schulte character, leadership award

  • Published
  • By Amber Baillie
  • Academy Spirit staff writer
A native of Lancaster, Pa., was awarded the 1st Lt. Roslyn Schulte Cadet Character and Leadership Award during a ceremony at McDermott Library May 28.

Cadet 1st Class Esther Willett received a gold and silver medallion for her outstanding contributions to the Academy's Center for Character and Leadership Development at the fourth-annual CCLD 1st Lt. Roslyn Schulte Cadet Awards and Recognition Ceremony.

Five other cadet nominees were also recognized for demonstrating a character of leadership and spirit of service as exemplified by Lt. Roslyn Schulte, a 2006 Academy graduate killed by a roadside bomb near Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2009.

"I feel really honored," said Cadet 1st Class Maria Phillips, a nominee. "I didn't know Lieutenant Schulte personally but I know that she served and gave the ultimate sacrifice, as well as exemplified the character that I think every cadet should strive to be."

Willett's accomplishments include: serving as the Academy's Wing Character NCO, helping cadets serve more than 37,000 hours in the local community, creating the CCLD's Food for Thought program, and devoting 40 hours to planning and developing curriculum for the CCLD's High School Leadership Invitational.

"Roz embraced her role as servant leader whether as a cadet, lacrosse captain, or active duty Airman for the U.S. Air Force," said Capt. Erin Boone, Schulte's former squad mate and friend. "She eclipsed the high-set expectations around her and was a mentor to her subordinates, peers and superiors. She was a leader of character and today we recognize six graduates from the Class of 2013 who embodied those qualities."

Attendees included the Academy's superintendent, commandant of cadets, dean of the faculty, Schulte's parents and families of the nominees. Academy instructors who knew Schulte as a cadet shared their personal reflections to remember her legacy.

"I think the idea of character is enriched by compassion," said Frances Pilch, a professor in the Academy's Political Science Department. "Roslyn had compassion in tremendous abundance. I think this is an integral thing that I hope our nominees will remember as they go through life. It's important to have a solid moral core, strong values, incredible integrity, but don't forget the idea of caring about the suffering of human beings here, at home and around the world."

David Sacko, a professor in the Academy's Political Science Department, met Schulte in the fall of 2004 and said she was a bright, selfless and loving individual.

"(She) and some other students from my political science course had been to my house and met my German shepherd," Sacko said. "When I unexpectedly had to put her down, Roz and another students sent flowers to my house and I no longer felt alone. Roz reached out from wherever she was and gave me a hug when I needed it. One of my reflections of her is love, because that is what I saw and felt Roz bring to those around her."

Schulte is the Academy's first female graduate killed in action. The award is endowed by Schulte's parents and friends, aims to honor her memory and be presented to a first class cadet who embodies the qualities that made Schulte an exceptional leader.

Other 2013 1st Lt. Roslyn L. Schulte Award nominees included Cadets 1st Class Chancellor Johnstone, Jessica Wong, Esther Willett, Christopher Knutson, Maria Phillips and Nicholas Santoro.