Growing strong leaders and team champions in work, life and technology


Commissioning Leaders

On Saturday, May 5, 2012, I had the honor of attending the Spring 2012 East Carolina University Army ROTC Commissioning Ceremony.  This was one of the most moving experiences of my life.  Major General Nick Justice, the  ceremony’s Distinguished Speaker, said it best when he stated that this event was an order of magnitude more important than the students graduation from ECU the day before.  And in the ceremony that followed MG Justice’s emotional talk, no doubt this was true.  As a civilian who had never attended a commissioning, I had no idea what to expect or what would happen.  The event started by showing pictures of each of the 12 then cadets through childhood to adult.  Following MG Justice’s talk and a few words from LTC Daniel Heape, the ECU Army ROTC Battalion Commander (2011-2012) , each young soldier took their oath. 

The emotion shared by the soldiers was intense and their oath, pinning of the bars and first salute rendering told the story of their journeys in both the words they spoke and through the emotions on their faces.  Most notable (and when I balled uncontrollably) were (1) when 2LT Kyle Chase  took his oath from his father with at least four of his family members present who also have served, are serving or are with him in spirit; and (2) when 2LT James Moore was embraced by his family following the pinning and the story he told of his journey.  Each commissioned soldier was without question proud and what brought them to that wonderful day was unique, challenging and honorable.  They passionately thanked the cadre in their ceremony including Major Ronald Roseboro, MSG Hunter, Mr. Torrence Taylor, SFC Twondell Baylor, CPT Colleen Burgemaster, and CPT Bryan Vaden as well as Col (Ret) Tim Wiseman who, along with his wife, has also been a spiritual leader for cadets.

These young great Americans are embarking on a new journey and new responsibilities that exceed those of any of the other 3800 ECU graduates that day and we are blessed to have them serving to protect our freedom.  Since 2008, when many of them started in the ECU ROTC program, I have observed them rise earlier than other ECU students for PT sessions, arriving on campus at 0530 as I approached our student recreation center for my own workouts.  Their inspiration at this time had also been the beginning of the creation of the leadership series presented herein, as I searched for others to assist my course in engineering project management to help instill strong leadership and work ethic into engineering students that had been so well demonstrated by their fellow students – the Army ROTC cadets.  Over the course of these four years, I too have grown in learning at least a little of what they will be charged to live during the rest of their time as soldiers in the United States Army.

It was a humble blessing to witness their commissioning.  These young cadets begin a new chapter in their lives, and a most important one, in serving in the greatest Army in the world as officers.  During the ceremony, what MG Justice indicated was realized and clearly evident… that these young people had accomplished so much more than that piece of paper for their ECU undergraduate degree.  This ceremony was just the beginning of their lifelong accomplishments as great American soldiers.

Congratulations to the newest ECU graduates and, most importantly, new Second Lieutenants in the U.S. Army:

2LT Christopher Bender
2LT Andrew Bunn
2LT Kyle Chase
2LT Colby Earp
2LT Rebecca Grado
2LT Ben Liboon
2LT Robert McFarland
2LT Phillip Miller
2LT James Moore
2LT Matthew Nine
2LT Derek Vanino
2LT Brandon Williams

I will forever remember your day as it touched my heart and soul.  If I could turn back time and have the opportunity to join you in service, I would do so.  Blessings to you and your families as you move forward, onward and upward.

Visionary Cistola moving forward

Dr. David Cistola, a doctor twice over with the incredible combination of M.D. as well as Ph.D. in Biochemistry & Biophysics, came to East Carolina University in 2007 to serve as Associate Dean of Research and Professor of Clinical Laboratory Science in the College of Allied Health Sciences as well as Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology in the Brody School of Medicine.  In these past five short years, Cistola has brought a vision to both ECU as well as to U.S. military personnel, veterans and their families.  He has been the PI, force and visionary behind Operation Re-entry North Carolina (ORNC) a program providing $2.1 million from the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, with plans for $8.4 million more over the following 4 years for a potential total of $10.5 million.   ORNC is a program that has at least 10 pilot research projects per year and five core research support components that advance health care and post-deployment support for military service personnel, veterans and their families.

Here is article from ECU’s Alliance magazine on the program:  Returning from War

Dr. Cistola kicked off Operation Re-entry upon receipt of his program’s proposal funding in late 2011.  The program has been gearing up and is now moving ahead full steam.  In late April 2012, Cistola met with Lt. General Mulholland of U.S. Army Special Forces Command, Ft. Bragg, along with Dr. J. Ted Morris to discuss Operation Re-entry.   Dr. Cistola is transitioning Operation Re-entry’s PI and leadership responsibilities to Dr. Morris, ECU’s Associate Vice Chancellor for Economic Development.  In July, Cistola will become the Vice President of Research at University of North Texas Health Sciences Center.

In addition to developing and launching ORNC, Dr. Cistola has been working on many research endeavors such as engineering breakthrough technology to improve clinical assessment and diagnosis of patients with diabetes and heart disease risk.   Along with his own innovations, Cistola also supports engineering as Chair of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) F04 Study Section which reviews fellowship applications in biochemistry, biophysics, chemistry and engineering.  Engineering projects are also a part of ORNC.  As such, Cistola is the next addition to the ECUE Engineering Leaders List!

Best wishes to Dr. Dave Cistola and his wife Julie as they move forward to create many more visions. 

Cistola on ORNC:

A Circle of Leaders

As the third and final year of the Engineering Legacy Lecture Series comes to a close, Series founder Dr. Stephanie Sullivan was honored with initiation into the East Carolina University Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa, the National Leadership Honor Society, on April 21, 2012, joining ECU student, faculty and community leaders as an Honorary Member.

Dr. Sullivan wants to thank all of the series speakers from 2010 – 2012 featured on this site as well as other speakers such as Dr. Bill Hall (2009), U.S. Army active duty Lt. Colonel Steven L. Delvaux (2008), and NC Army National Guard Captain Annie Hester (2008) who have also given their time to inspire ECU Engineering students.  The audience at each presentation was honored with the wisdom and presence of these twenty-eight tremendous men and women who provided unique perspective to consider in molding a lifelong leadership philosophy.

This fall 2012 will be the last offering of Engineering Project Management in its current form.  The live speaker series has only been held in the spring.  The ECU Engineering program has been transitioning to a format which mirrors that of the ECU College of Business:   The COB program is tremendous and serves as great role model for Engineering. 

As the spring 2012 semester end nears, Dr. Sullivan left her students with the challenge that regardless of where they are and what they are doing – whether on a summer engineering internship with the U.S. Navy or a burger broiling shift with BK – they must find a way to utilize their education in engineering, project management and leadership to go above and beyond the call of duty and make a difference.  Continuous improvement is always possible in any operation or organization.  One may not always be blessed with ideal job prospects, so each person must do his or her best to transform less than desirable activities into new opportunities.  At summer’s end, they should be able to identify at least three engineering accomplishments; and if able to do this on a job where they are expected to just deliver pizzas, that shows a more resourceful, talented and driven individual.  Exceed expectations!  Often, the hardest part is knowing what reasonable expectations are, both by leader and followers!  Wherever possible, find a leader who communicates expectations clearly, consistently and effectively.  Regardless of what lemons you are given in this world, make sweet lemonade.

G2T Founder Mike Lenhart engineers empowerment


Mike Lenhart, USMA West Point trained engineering manager, Georgia State University MBA trained businessman and George Washington University trained Project Manager founded the Getting2Tri Foundation, empowering the physically disabled to athletic inspiration and success. 

He is the most recent addition to the ECUE Engineering Leaders List!

Reed wraps it up!

P.E. Brent Reed wraps up the series today.


Carter three-peats!

2X ECU Alum USAF Colonel (ret) Worth Carter three-peats tomorrow with his third annual appearance in the spring Leadership Legacy Lecture series! 


Tyer pipes in from Pearl Harbor and up on Leadership

This Tuesday and Wednesday, United States Navy Commander Donald Tyer will be communicating with students live from Pearl Harbor in the ECU Global Classroom.  The Commander has moved from his hometown roots on the banks of the Pamlico River to the base at Pearl Harbor where he leads all Supply, Storage and Distribution (SS&D) services to the shipyard, which currently houses 11 surface ships and 19 submarines.