Latest News: Faculty Engagement Corps Journal Day 1: On the road
Inspiring young leaders
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Gifted high school students interested in leadership convened in Iowa City this summer to foster their skills, develop plans to improve their communities, and meet with experienced leaders.
University of Iowa President Sally Mason spoke to students enrolled in the Advanced Leadership Seminar at the UI College of Education’s Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development’s National Scholars Institute (NSI) on July 18.
NSI is a one-week residential academic program for students in grades 9-11. Students choose to take courses spanning topics such as physics, engineering, writing, Asian and Pacific studies, visual arts, computer programing, and leadership.
The Advanced Leadership Seminar is the capstone course in a series of threeBelin-BlankCenterleadership courses that start with elementary-age students.
Jan Warren, student program administrator for the Belin-Blank Center, says leadership is a relatively new focus in gifted education. The focus recognizes that leadership is an important, identifiable talent area, she says.
Josh Walehwa teaches the Advanced Leadership Seminar. He says students learn how to use specific skills such as negotiating and listening, and develop action plans to carry out personal visions for change in their own communities and beyond.
One student developed a plan to create a peer-to-peer mentoring program at her school. Another envisions a community dialogue group to foster religious understanding in her town.
“Students will get to have a better understanding of themselves, their values, and their passions, and how that impacts the decisions they make,” Walehwa says.
Walehwa, director of housing and residence life at Saint Louis University, is a UI College of Education graduate. He earned his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in art education, and a master’s degree in student development and post-secondary education in 2002.
Liam Crawford, a high school sophomore from Stuart, Iowa, plans to be a politician someday and says the Advanced Leadership Seminar is preparing him well. He particularly enjoyed meeting with leaders such as Mason.
“We’ve seen the different styles of leadership and leadership skills in action,” he says.
Jordan Hansen, a sophomore from Spencer, Iowa, says the NSI and leadership seminar offered her a treasured opportunity to spend time with like-minded, creative students.
“It’s a really great opportunity to be with people from all across the state on a college campus and have this high-level experience we wouldn’t be able to have at home,” she says.