By Lt. Jeffrey S. Gray, Special to Chief of Naval Personnel - Diversity Directorate Public Affairs
June 9, 2010 - CHICAGO (NNS) -- The chief of naval personnel (CNP) visited with students, staff and faculty at two area high schools and met with city leadership in Chicago June 2.
CNP Vice Adm. Mark Ferguson met with students at Northside College Preparatory High School and cadets at the Hyman G. Rickover Naval Academy.
Ferguson also visited with Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and Chicago educational leaders.
"This was a great opportunity to engage and connect with some of the youth in Chicago. I was extremely impressed with the caliber of students at both schools," said Ferguson. "These students clearly have the drive, determination and talent to be the future leaders of tomorrow."
Ferguson began his trip to Chicago with a visit to Northside College Preparatory High School, one of the top 100 high schools in the country, according U.S. News & World Report. While at Northside, Ferguson met with student and school leaders and discussed a broad range of topics from education, ethics and leadership to Navy cyber security scholarship opportunities. Ferguson also toured the school, meeting and greeting students and faculty.
During a roundtable discussion with student leaders, Ferguson was asked to discuss the relationship between innovation and education.
"As a nation, we can't afford to outsource our capacity for innovation," said Ferguson. "Developing a love of learning in our nation's youth is crucial to the innovation we will need in the future. Our nation's public schools educate the vast majority of young adults, and schools like Northside will produce some of our 21st century leaders."
Barry Rodgers, principal at Northside College Preparatory High School, remarked that Ferguson's message resonated with students.
"We teach our students the relationship between ethics, leadership and responsibility," said Rodgers. "Vice Adm. Ferguson's interaction with our student leaders really brought home the relationship by discussing his real world experiences."
Dr. Peggy Murphy, Northside College Preparatory High School assistant principal, also said that it was an honor to host Ferguson at Northside.
"Having him talk to our students about his 32 years of experience, and especially about his current responsibilities, was eye-opening. I'm sure he inspired a number of our students to learn more about educational and career opportunities in the Navy," said Murphy.
Ferguson also visited the Hyman G. Rickover Naval Academy, one of Chicago Public School's six military academies.
The culminating event was Ferguson's participation in the Senior Bell Ceremony. Speaking in front of the assembled battalion of 400 cadets, he addressed the graduating seniors and spoke about his decision to attend the U.S. Naval Academy.
Over the last two years, Hyman G. Rickover Naval Academy graduates have accumulated in excess of $4 million in scholarships. Six cadets will enlist in the military in 2010. Sixteen cadets will attend a Navy-funded science, technology, engineering and mathematics summer program either at the U.S. Naval Academy, Purdue University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University or the University of San Diego.
Ferguson's last stop was to Chicago's City Hall, where he met with Daley, Chancellor of City Colleges of Chicago Cheryl L. Hyman and Chief Area Officer of Chicago Public Schools Rick Mills to discuss opportunities to partner with city educational agencies.
"Exploring opportunities to further student development is important to our nation and our Navy," said Ferguson.
Ferguson's visit to Chicago is part of the Navy's national outreach initiative to engage and connect with youth, educational, civic, government and business leaders across the country, and to communicate the importance of educating and training future leaders from diverse segments of society.