General (retired) Joseph Votel '76 Inspires JROTC Cadets with Leadership Wisdom

February 28, 2024

Cretin-Derham Hall recently had the privilege of hosting distinguished alumni General (retired) Joseph Votel ‘76, Commander of U.S. Central Command from 2016 - 2019. General Votel, a seasoned military leader with a 39-year career, visited CDH to share his experiences and insights on leadership with the junior and senior JROTC cadets. The impact of his visit resonated not only with the cadets but also with the instructors, emphasizing the importance of service, integrity, trust, and continuous improvement.

Colonel Scrocca, Senior Army Instructor at CDH, expressed his enthusiasm for General Votel's visit. He remarked, "It was great to hear one of our school's most honored alumni, and one of our nation's most trusted leaders, reinforce and provide real-world context to many of the lessons we discuss in the classroom." Colonel Scrocca highlighted the significance of General Votel's emphasis on service, integrity, trust, relationship-building, setting a good example, and continuous improvement. These, he noted, are lessons that will benefit the cadets not only during their academic careers but throughout their personal and professional lives.

Lillian Moore ‘24 shared her reflections on General Votel's impactful speech. She emphasized the importance of never taking for granted the opportunities provided by her education and involvement in JROTC. According to Moore, General Votel's words served as a reminder that the lessons and skills acquired from both arenas will set her up for success. She particularly highlighted General Votel's best piece of advice: "be the best at whatever you are doing."

Moore also stressed the significance of having distinguished visitors like General Votel at the school. She said, "I think it is important to have visitors such as General Votel because they provide varying perspectives, share lessons that they have learned along the way, and inspire students to push themselves to be the best they can be."

More on General Votel's life and career

After high school, General Votel was enrolled in the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated with a major in General Engineering. He then devoted 39 years to a remarkable military career, culminating with his pivotal role in the Global War on Terror following the September 11 attack on the United States.

Reflecting on his high school experience, he acknowledges Cretin High School as foundational to everything in his life. At Cretin, he learned the value of deep and lasting relationships, encouraging him to lead a values-based life. General Votel considers being a graduate of Cretin one of the proudest achievements of his life. His favorite memory from high school revolves around the enduring bonds with his classmates, many of whom remain close friends to this day.


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