If anyone epitomizes the defining qualities of the Cum Laude Society – academic excellence, intellectual curiosity, and good character – it’s Air Force Lieutenant Benjamin Joelson ’06. The MBS graduate returned to campus on April 13th to speak to student body about his journey since graduation and the lessons he has learned along the way.
Although he is just 24 years old, Lt. Joelson knows a thing or two about leadership.
Since graduating from the Air Force Academy in the top 10 percent of his class with a Distinguished Legal Studies Degree, he is now stationed at Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming where he serves as an Officer in Charge and Nuclear Convoy Commander. Notably, he trains, leads and equips 120 airmen and his responsible for providing Security Escort and Armed Alarm Response for 150 Minuteman Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles – valued in excess of $1.5 Billion.
“If you make a mistake, the President is briefed on it…so no pressure,” he said with a smile.
Lt. Joelson said that returning to Morristown-Beard School was special. “I’ve been around the world, but this place really feels like home to me,” he said, adding that he was grateful to the many MBS teachers who helped guide him.
“My teachers at Morristown-Beard School prepared me really well for the Air Force Academy and beyond,” Joelson told the students. “You might think that what you’re learning right now doesn’t apply in the real world, but I promise you it does.”
Joelson spoke about three elements that have been instrumental to his career – effective communication, character, and leadership. He emphasized that true leadership involves an element of empathy. “I’ve found that you need to get out of your office, get out from behind the desk, and be out there in the field, sharing the experience with the troops that you supervise,” he said.
He told the students that effective communication will serve them no matter what career they pursue, and that personal integrity is also essential.
“Your name is everything,” he said. “People need to know they can rely on you.”
In addition to his immense responsibilities, Lt. Joelson finds time to serve as a guest lecturer across the country. He has presented at Hamilton College on the dangers of outsourcing inherently governmental functions to the private sector. This past fall, he served as an Air Force representative for a panel discussion at the American Society of Public Administrator’s annual national conference.
Lt. Joelson’s talk at Morning Meeting was sponsored by the MBS Cum Laude Society. The Cum Laude Society, modeled on Phi Beta Kappa, was founded in 1906 at the Tome School in Port Deposit, Maryland, to promote learning and scholarship in secondary schools. The Beard School received its Cum Laude Society charter in 1950, the Morristown School in 1958, and Morristown-Beard School in 1976.