Calvert Hall College High School had the privilege of hosting Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III on March 15, 2013. Admiral Locklear currently serves as Commander, U.S. Pacific Command. Admiral Locklear has been to nearly every country in the world and currently manages Navy personnel and equipment in the Pacific. His visit wasn’t aimed at recruiting students, rather to discuss current event topics as well as the importance of leadership and good decision making. During his presentation he reminded students, “You are the innovators. The world values men of integrity. The world values men of humility and compassion. The world values men of service.” He then asked students “So, how will you serve your country?”
I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Admiral Locklear for a few minutes after his presentation to discuss his profession, advice for high school students and a debated topic recently brought up in the media:
Q: Why did you choose a career in the Navy?
A: “Well I think the Navy, in the U.S. military, chose me. I was a young 17 year old that was looking for something more than what I saw developing on my plan. I had the opportunity to join the Navy and I knew that it could open up opportunities for me if I chose to take them. Then, once I got in I had really good mentorship that led me towards a leadership position.”
Q: Does faith play a role in your profession?
A: “Of course faith does. I’m a Christian faith and I find it hard to believe that people can actually see all that’s in the world and not believe that there’s a God that created it. It’s just too amazing. So, absolutely, faith plays a big role.”
Q: What is the most rewarding part about your job?
A: “The most rewarding thing is I get to lead hundreds of thousands of people. I get to have a say, in some degree, in the future of this country and I hold that very dear. And certainly I feel a deep responsibility for the safety and security of all Americans. They trust you as military, the American people do – they don’t trust just anybody – they trust us. So making sure we don’t violate that trust is important. “
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Q: What lessons did you learn as a teenager that you carry with you today?
A: “Don’t underestimate your potential. Don’t think that the world has predetermined how good you can be. You determine how good you can be, and to be as good as you can be you have to make sure your integrity is in the right place, that you have a certain amount of humility and compassion for people, and that you choose a life of service rather than someone else serving you.”
Q: If there was one tip you could give to high school students, what would it be?
A: “Make good choices. Think about your choices before you make them, and don’t let others make them for you. I think in high school, even when I was a student, the peer pressure to do things and to make decisions that aren’t going to be in your best interest is very high. Sometimes people make bad decisions and they get through them because they’re lucky, some don’t because they’re unlucky. The best way to do it is to learn how to make good decisions and that means you have to be able to say no to things, to wait on things, to be patient on things, and to seek advice from people who made the mistake before. “
Q: What was your ultimate goal as a high school student?
A: “I’m not quite sure. At the time I was just trying to get through the next week or test or social event and all those things that you do when you’re a high school student. I tended to have a short term view in those years, so my ultimate goal I guess was to graduate high school. And that’s what kind of set me on the path to being in the Navy was that my ultimate goal wasn’t a very good one. But I guess when I look back, I wasn’t very smart, but I was smart enough to recognize that the ultimate goal I set wasn’t working so I had to change it. You can’t be afraid to change your perspective. Most people when they graduate don’t end up doing what they planned on doing. God takes you to different places if you let him take you there, but you can take yourself other places if you want to and he’ll let you.”
Q: Is there anything you learned as an adult that you wish you had learned as a kid?
A: “No, I think there’s a value in going through the process of learning. So to say ‘I wish I had known this when I was 17’, I don’t think I would change anything. I don’t think I would change anything I learned, the way I learned it, or any experience I had, even the bad. When you string them all together it’s what makes your life anyway. It makes it interesting I guess.”
Q: I know global warming was recently said to be on the top of your list of issues…
A: “Yeah, I know…I sort of got misrepresented a little bit. It’s not the most important thing. It certainly doesn’t top things like nuclear weapons in Korea. But for a long range perspective of things that will impact people and their lives, since 80% of seven billion people live within 200 miles of the ocean, you have to think about what’s happening to the weather change. There’s no question. I don’t know what’s causing it – that’s a scientific debate and I’m not a scientist, but it is changing.”
Not only does his advice apply to just kids, it may also apply to adults. What are your thoughts on Admiral Locklear’s comments?
Thank you, Admiral Locklear, from the Calvert Hall students and staff. I would personally like to thank you for taking your time to answer some of my questions after your presentation.