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Corps Feature

Leaders of Character

By Laura Simmons '19

Spirit Student Worker
Former student Scott Lovett '13 refined his leadership skills through the Hollingsworth Leadership Excellence Program in the Corps of Cadets.

A Texas A&M University cadet can be spotted from a mile away. Their striking figure presents an image of loyalty, strength and discipline. Individuals in the Corps of Cadets are trained to exemplify the essence of Texas A&M in everything from their daily classroom interactions to their behavior at football games. Most importantly, cadets are known for being “Keepers of the Spirit.”  

The Corps formed with the university’s founding in 1876 with approximately 40 cadets. Today, the organization is the largest in decades with more than 2,500 members. Cadets maintain a rigorous schedule of personal and military-style training, and many students work toward careers in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Expecting the Best

However, approximately 60 percent of cadets choose not to commission into the military and instead follow a leadership track. Usher in the Hollingsworth Leadership Excellence Program, named after Gen. James Francis Hollingsworth ’40, one of the most decorated generals in Texas A&M’s history. The program prepares Drill and Ceremony (D&C) cadets—those not seeking a military commission—for professional careers through a challenging academic leadership curriculum focused on the formal study of leadership concepts and the intentional application of leadership principles. While all D&C cadets are required to participate in this leadership curriculum, the program does offer its leadership and career counseling services to every cadet.

“We focus primarily on D&C cadets, but we are also a resource for commissioning cadets,” said Dr. David Keller, director of the Hollingsworth Program. “There are several factors that could negatively impact a student’s ability to commission, such as an injury or other unforeseen circumstances. All students need a plan B, and that’s what we’re here for.”

The program consists of three components: study, experience and application. Through classes and workshops, it offers in-depth teachings on leadership, personal development and management skills. Upon completing the program, each cadet earns a Certificate in Leadership Study and Development that appears on their official academic transcript.

“It’s not our hope that cadets have leadership and career readiness skills when they graduate. It’s our expectation,” Keller added. “It’s part of the Corps’ mission to develop leaders of character who can impact society.”

Finding a Career

Former student Scott Lovett ’13 successfully completed the Hollingsworth Program and now enjoys a career in real estate. Growing up, he knew he would attend Texas A&M and join the Corps like his father. 

As a freshman and sophomore, Lovett participated in the ROTC program before beginning his courses in the Hollingsworth Program. The classes broke down leadership into its core components and focused on the data, tools and mechanics of leadership that cadets can implement in their personal lives.

The Hollingsworth Leadership Excellence Program is named after Gen. James Francis Hollingsworth '40, one of the most decorated generals in Texas A&M's history.

“Leadership is a fluid concept,” explained Lovett. “I learned not only how to lead with my own personality and style, but also how to apply the military-like leadership in the Corps to other aspects of my life, such as personal relationships and my career.”

In addition to helping cadets develop their leadership identities, the program aids cadets in finding jobs that match their career aspirations by coordinating informational sessions with organizations such as the CIA, the National Security Agency, Chevron, Reynolds & Reynolds, and many others.

“But it’s more than simple networking and finding a job,” added Lovett. “It’s also about realizing what you want in a career and what careers you’d be well-suited for.” After graduating, Lovett obtained a job with Clark Isenhour Real Estate Services in the Brazos Valley, where he applies lessons he learned in the Corps.


“My experience in the program taught me how to add value in everything I do—and how to go above and beyond to understand my clients and what they need,” he said. “If I’m not working to help my clients, I’m not doing my job right.”

The Vision

The Hollingsworth Program receives funding from an endowment established by Gen. Hollingsworth’s family, but additional funds are needed as the Corps grows. Endowed gifts of $25,000 or more will allow the program to continue to advise and support every individual in the Corps, regardless of their decision to commission in the armed forces.

Additional support would also fund corporate training opportunities and events, innovative classroom technologies, and more lectures by experts in industry, nonprofit and entrepreneurial sectors. Funds would also address the short-term need for additional staff to advise cadets and help the program achieve its vision as it evolves.

“Our resources have to increase with our scope," said retired Col. Kenneth Allison ’85, the program’s associate director. "It is our dream to help cadets find inspiration in their Corps experiences so they may serve as emblems for one of the nation’s leading universities.”

Aggie Cadets: A Cut Above the Rest 

Union Pacific Railroad works closely with the Hollingsworth Program. Like the Corps, the company’s history is rich in tradition and guided by core values.

For many years, Union Pacific has hired cadets for their highly sought-after leadership and teamwork skills. Unlike other recruits, Aggie cadets already have experience working in a team environment, especially through stressful and challenging situations. “In our business, we need employees who can lead on the first day of the job,” said Cyndee Kanabel, human resources director for Union Pacific’s southern region. “Because of their leadership development, cadets are the perfect candidates for our company.”