This is a mobile edition of our podcast (on remote location) taped in the Center's Green Room (speaker lounge).

VMI Center for Leadership and Ethics' conference project manager Derek Pinkham and conference assistant Emily Coleman sat down at the beginning of the 2019-20 academic year to talk leadership with Stewart Spurry '20 including his journey to becoming the Rat Disciplinary Committee (RDC) president and his future goals. During this episode, Spurry talks about a tactic unique to VMI called 'the strain.' A strain is when you march very erect with your chin pulled in as far as you can to your neck. It is required of all 'rats' or incoming freshmen. VMI defines it as 'An exaggerated position of attention;' what rats are supposed to do [whenever they walk in barracks] as part of VMI's traditional 'rites of passage' phase until their 'breakout' when they earn the right to being called official members of the VMI Corps of Cadets. For more on the VMI Leader Journey, access the booklet here:

Our Center's mission is to enhance the VMI citizen-soldier journey with programming that educates, engages and inspires critical thinking, ethical decision-making, and leader development. For more information about our Center and its programming, please visit

In this episode, we touch on the following leadership competencies of the VMI Leader Journey: responsibility for personal behavior, self-development, mentoring, teamwork, and social responsibility.

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