For those who do not know,
Second Lieutenant Emily Perez was a major factor as to why I chose to go to West Point.
Emily's life and legacy is so big that she manages to inspire and empower people to believe in themselves, most with out ever having a personal encounter.
She is the epitome of a leader.
While a cadet, she rose to the rank of Command Sergeant Major, which is second in charge of the Cadet Corps. Emily became the first African American and Hispanic Woman to hold this position. She was also Captain of the Track Team, and a Sociology major.
Her legacy was my motivation when times became tough. It also was a reason for why I stayed as long as I did.
While at the Academy, Cadets are frequently encouraged to research and model one's self after a successful leader.
I adopted 2LT Emily Perez's leadership model as I hoped to be the rock-star cadet and later officer that she was. What I took from her philosophy can be summed up in a quote by Maya Angelou that explains that
"People will forget what you said
People will forget what you did
But people will never forget how you made them feel."
It was also echoed by one of the greatest Soldiers that I have ever encountered . His name is Command Sergeant Major (Ret.) Burnett and his philosophy was simple,
" You have to care that much".
True leaders care. True leaders love to serve. They sacrifice. They endure. They overcome, and in doing so they inspire.
Below is a poetry tribute that was created by my friend, fellow poet, and Marine, Latino A2J.
"Love the life you live, and live the life that you have."- Poetic Change
Commited to innovative leadership and institutional change
My name is Kylila (Ka-lee-la) which means beloved. I am one who loves, or at least tries to. I have had many titles, Poet, Photographer, Videographer, Writer, Cadet, Private, Athlete, Leader, Director, etc. I have learned that the greatest successes are born from the most tremendous trials. Everyone has beauty in their life story.