Handout 1


Handout 1
It’s aWoman’s
At Mary Baldwin College, the Virginia Women’s Institute for
Leadership gives graduates the tools to excel.
By Meghan Modafferi
from below:
parade; on the
way to class;
confidence at
Change of
Command the
day before
MBC graduation.
As the nation’s only all-female cadet corps,
the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership (VWIL) at Mary Baldwin College (MBC) fills
an important niche among military academies. Not
only do cadets leave prepared to attain their goals,
but they also join a diverse, close-knit network of
women dedicated to their communities and careers.
An elite four-year program within MBC’s Residential College for Women in Staunton, Virginia,
the institute cultivates the skills needed to excel in
both military and civilian careers. Through a broadbased approach integrating academics, fitness,
military training, practical experience, and co-
curricular activities, students become strong leaders.
Cadets exercise these new skills by running the
Corps’s regimental system, which follows a militarystyle format, and its class system, which familiarizes
students with collaborative and consensus leadership
styles valued in the business sector.
As members not only of the Corps, but also of the
college, cadets are encouraged to take full advantage
of opportunities within MBC as a whole, including
athletics and student government. They benefit from
the single-sex environment both in the Corps and at
MBC, where the focus is on helping each woman
reach her full potential as citizen and leader.
86-87_Va Womens Institute-F.indd 86
9/30/13 9:13 AM
Through coeducational ROTC training, they also
learn to navigate and excel in male-dominated
All cadets must complete a leadership studies
minor, with one of three possible concentrations:
business, community and social change, or military. They also choose from interdisciplinary
courses, dissecting topics like ethics, organizational behavior, and gender issues in leadership,
which help personalize training to suit cadets’
goals and interests.
New students at VWIL kick off their education
with “Wilderness,” three days of team building,
hiking, biking, climbing, and all-around adventure.
Then there’s Cadre Week when freshmen cadets
meet their upper-class leaders. Because a VWIL
education promises to be unlike anything these
young women have experienced before, each stu-
dent is partnered with a senior mentor who provides
helpful guidance as cadets work toward earning
their uniform or “green pants.” These traditions and
others, including the shrouded-in-secrecy Spirit
Missions, build confidence and strengthen the
bonds of friendship.
VWIL opened in 1995 by request of the Commonwealth of Virginia to ensure a diversity of
higher education options within the state. In
March of 1996, the VWIL Corps of Cadets presented its first public parade. Just eight years later,
it marched in the New York City St. Patrick’s Day
parade — and won second place among all marching units. Today, the color guard performs at such
prestigious venues as the Smithsonian, the Air and
Space Museum, and the National Women’s Memorial at Arlington.
Diversity is a particular point of pride for VWIL.
Within the Virginia Corps of Cadets, which also
includes Virginia Military Institute and Virginia
Tech, VWIL represents just 5 percent of all
cadets, but makes up about one-third of the
women and one-half the women of color. In
addition, VWIL offers an exchange program with Lady Doak College in Madurai,
India, which lends a global perspective.
Virginia Women’s
Through discipline, collaboration, acaInstitute for Leadership
demics, and extracurricular activities,
Mary Baldwin College
Staunton, VA
VWIL equips young women with a broad800.468.2262
based leadership toolbox, essential for
achieving success in all areas of life.
86-87_Va Womens Institute-F.indd 87
9/30/13 9:14 AM