Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Midshipman Receives Peer-Nominated Leadership Excellence Award

U.S. Naval Academy’s Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) Division presented the Rear Admiral Draper Kauffman Leadership Excellence Award to Midshipman 1st Class Melissa Felman during a ceremony Nov. 23 in Memorial Hall.


The peer-nominated award recognizes midshipman’s leadership potential across a broad spectrum of service to others as observed by other members of the brigade.

“It’s a real honor to get recognized by this particular award,” said Capt. Wesley Huey, LEAD director. “This award identifies midshipman oriented towards service and volunteering, and the brigade is full of folks like that. She was elected for the award by her peers. It says a lot about her character.”

The Kauffman Award includes a watch, intended to serve as a constant reminder of the wearer’s leadership responsibility – both at the academy and after commissioning.

“It’s very humbling to receive this award from my peers,” said Felman. “I’ll be able to wear it and reflect about my time here at USNA and continue to try to represent the spirit of Rear Admiral Kauffman.”


The award was established in 1980 by Kauffman’s widow, who outlined the criteria of the award based on her family’s ideals of leadership. The family hopes the award identifies individuals who may not have been recognized by other means within the academy.

“My first experience with Felman was during her Plebe Summer,” said Lieutenant Derik W. Rothchild, 1st Company officer. “Since then she has been a reflection of what this award really means. She is a shining example of what unselfish servitude is, and really embodies the type of leader USNA wants to put out into the fleet.”

When describing the naval leader, Kauffman stressed the whole person, not just the athlete, the scholar, or the individual with the best appearance, but a well-rounded leader that could blend all of these attributes selflessly.

“As soon as I read the description of the award, I immediately thought of Felman,” said Midshipman 1st Class Katherine Inge, of 1st Company. “She is always trying to help other midshipmen, she does well in school, she is passionate about serving, and she constantly volunteers her time. The award is about being an overall example, and she is exactly that.”

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