Advice from a veteran in “leadership totality”

The Concordia Courier

Concordia Irvine

By Leonard Memon | 11/11/2022

On Sat., Oct. 5, Matthew “Sarge” Gencarella spoke to Concordia students about “leadership totality” to help students on their journey to and through leadership on campus.

Sarge is a veteran who was part of one of the first teams deployed in the Middle East after 9/11. He was part of a special operations regiment and also served as a drill sergeant for eight years. He is currently the CEO of his company, Fort Fitness, where he trains individuals physically and mentally to take on the challenges of life.

Sarge spoke about how each individual needed to reject comfort in order to figure out who they are. He specifically highlighted college as a time for transformation when he said, “When you are going through college, that is a great time to test your will.”

Sarge also acknowledged how individuals react to different situations in different ways. He used the example of when he first arrived at boot camp by saying “You come off the bus and there is so much chaos.” For Sarge, “[his] brain was like I’m loving it, and others were uncomfortable.”

While it may be easy to follow the path of least resistance, Sarge found that “You're not going to gain this huge skillset without being tested.” He continued his feeling that the path that provides one with a sense of fulfillment is also the path that will provide the greatest resistance.

The students not only enjoyed listening to Sarge, but they gained valuable insight into how they can operate in their day-to-day lives. 

Dr. Erin Nelson, Professor of Communication Studies, said, “I think the students really enjoyed hearing about his background and gaining perspective on the privileges we have because of [service members] like him. A lot of the students appreciated his advice on stepping into a leadership role and how to own the blessings God has given each of them.”

Nelson, who trains with Sarge, also found that, “The way Sarge talks reminds me of a fitness trainer, life coach and pastor all in one. He is all about being the best person you can be and genuinely cares about the people he encounters, so I loved that our students could experience that.”



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