Retired SEAL inspires teens to take the road not taken

Founders Week speakers tell "their stories"

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Chloe Bishop

Fogleman speaks to hundreds of teens in the auditorium.

Lauren Nery, Staff Writer

Businessman, father, veteran, elite climber, recipient of two Bronze stars. Retired Navy SEAL Mike Fogleman could go by any one of these titles and spoke to nearly 900 teens Monday morning about taking the “road less traveled.”

From a humble background as a roofer in a poor family that qualified him for a Pell Grant, Fogleman knew he had to make a name for himself.

“I was a roofing foreman at 18 years old, and immediately they gave me four guys to work for me,” said Fogleman.

A leader from the start, Fogleman learned the necessary skills to be a successful roofer. From there, he decided to join the Navy. He graduated from boot camp in 1988 and knew his path had to diverge again, becoming a SEAL in 1989.

“The strongest, toughest guys were the first ones to ring the bell at SEAL training,” said Fogleman. “Us scrawny guys had something to prove.”

Many students expected many war stories but got a chronological and impassioned tale of devotion, leadership, and change.

“Strong leaders generally rise to the top when you are tasked to do hard things,” said Fogleman.

Fogleman worked at Navy bases around the world like Hong Kong, Subic Bay, and Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 until 2003 when his children were young. Stories of working on missions like Desert Storm and The Karzai Detail stunned the audience, but personal stories like being in an avalanche shocked many more.

“Acts of heroism were frequent, impressive, and often unnoticed,” said Fogleman.

Fogleman concluded his speech with a list of his do’s and don’ts, such as “don’t lend money to family members” but do “yoga.” His advice inspired teens to take their own road, make their own path.

“The most ordinary people do the most extraordinary things,” said Fogleman.