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Learning to Lead and Achieve

Melissa McCoyApril 3, 2019

Cadet McCale “Cale” Bladzik, a junior from Broomfield, Colorado, holds a critical position in the 131st Corps of Cadets. As the S-3 Sergeant Major (S-3) of the Battalion Command, Cale is responsible for enforcing the school’s Remedial Action Training (RAT) program—an initiative that aims to ensure cadets are following the code of conduct and provides mentorship to help cadets improve if they are not meeting expected standards. It is a position that Cale takes seriously, particularly as a cadet who has come a long way himself to becoming the type of cadet who leads by a high example.

New Opportunities in a New Setting

Cale’s mother, Mehgan Aaker, is proud to see her son take on a leadership position that seeks personal responsibility and honorable behavior.

“We were excited when we found out Cale had been chosen as the S-3,” said Mehgan. “He had interviewed previously for a position on the Battalion Command. It was great to see how proud he was and to watch him realize that just because you fail doesn’t mean you should stop trying. He knew he wanted to earn a leadership position on campus and he kept working hard and putting himself out there until he achieved his goal.”

According to Military Advisory Sergeant David Driscoll, Cale is the right cadet for the role of S-3.

“Cadet Bladzik brings some qualities to the position that I think truly makes the S-3 shine,” said Sergeant Driscoll. “His attention to detail and prior experience as a cadet will be key in how he prepares and executes training programs.”

Mehgan agrees that Cale is the right fit for the S-3 position.

“Cale has always been a very caring and empathetic young man. He understands what it’s like to make a mistake and backtrack and come out the other side, and he can help younger cadets by mentoring them and helping them move forward. He understands what many of them are going through and is a good example of what they can achieve through hard work and responsible behavior.”

Finding Purpose

It has been a year and a half since Cale’s family decided to transition him to St. John’s.

“School was difficult for Cale before St. John’s,” recalls Mehgan. “He was attending a large public school that was under-funded, and there were so many kids in each class that he wasn’t getting the one-on-one attention he needed. His grades weren’t where we knew they could be, and we wanted him to transition to an environment that would help put him back on track.”

Mehgan’s husband, Cale’s stepfather, is a St. John’s Old Boy, so when it came time to select a more structured educational setting, they knew exactly where to turn.

According to Cale, his greatest early struggles surrounded the separation from his family.

“The hardest part of moving to St. John’s was not being able to see my siblings,” recalls Cale. “My baby brother was born a month after I left home, and I’ve missed seeing him grow up.”

For Mehgan, it was saying goodbye to her son on campus that was the most challenging.

“It was the idea that we were going to drop him off at St. John’s in the Fall of his sophomore year, and it would be the last time he would live with us full time that was so hard,” said Mehgan. “It was so hard to let him go. It was like nothing I had expected.”

The Moment of Engagement

While adjusting to life away from home took time for Cale, he reached a pivotal moment where he fully embraced life in the brotherhood—and it changed everything.

Said Cale, “The day I earned my first position as a Drill Instructor, I decided that I would work as hard as I could to make my parents and everyone proud of me. It switched everything—how I was thinking about things and doing things.”

The feeling of earning responsibility, and the praise that accompanies it, is often an impactful experience for St. John’s cadets, and an impactful moment that becomes the first of many that put young men on a path toward maturity, personal accountability, and respect. The same was true for Cale, who has already learned valuable lessons of responsibility during his time as a cadet.

“When you wake up in the morning, you need a way to motivate yourself to get out of bed and do something. It takes discipline,” he said.

According to Military Advisory Sergeant David Driscoll, Cadet Bladzik has been successful in part because of his reserved leadership style.

“Cadet Bladzik is a quiet leader,” said Sergeant Driscoll. “He is disciplined and focused, and when he does talk. it is because he has something important to say and people should listen.”

When asked how Cale has changed during his time at St. John’s, Sergeant Driscoll recalls, “He has always maintained an air of confidence. The real change that I have observed is his willingness to take charge and lead rather than wait for others to do so.”

An Academic Evolution

The young man who once hesitated to prioritize his academics, today points to the faculty and staff at St. John’s as the best aspect of life on campus.

“My favorite part of St. John’s is that the classes are not easy, but the teachers really help you,” said Cale. “I have struggled with classes ever since elementary school. I’m getting more help here, and my grades are better than ever.”

Sergeant Driscoll confirms that Cale has been excelling academically during his time at St. John’s.

“I have yet to hear a complaint or see a bad academic grade associated with Cadet Bladzik,” said Sergeant Driscoll. “In fact, I suspect he has always performed well academically.”

Today, Mehgan sees all positive changes in Cale.

“The differences in Cale are like night and day,” said Mehgan. “When we went to St. John’s for Parent’s Weekend, we could see a change in the way he held himself. He was standing straight, he was making eye contact with the people he spoke to, and he was proud of himself and his abilities. Our friends and family who don’t see Cale that often have commented on what a respectful and mature young man he has become, and how amazing it is to see a young man carrying himself like an adult and treating those around him with common courtesies. It’s the type of behavior that makes you feel proud.”

Continuing a Military Tradition

As Cale looks to the future, he has set attainable, and impressive goals for himself that he speaks about optimistically.

“I’d like to go to school at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. I want to take a PLC class, and enter the Marines after I graduate.

Mehgan credits St. John’s for giving her son the possibility of such a bright future.

“We definitely want Cale to go to college, and with St. John’s, it’s a realistic goal. St John’s has opened up opportunities for him. What we always wanted was for him to come out of high school and be a thoughtful, caring young man with a desire to have his own dream and know how to fulfill it on his own.”

Cale also credits St. John’s for inspiring his future.

“St. John’s provided me with the idea to enlist in the Marines,” said Cale. “If I hadn’t come here I probably wouldn’t be in a good place at all. I like the structure of how everything runs at St. John’s. Today I feel like I can go somewhere and build something.”

Copyright © Rocking M Media, 2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced without Rocking M Media’s express consent.

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