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NSU student leaders get hands-on experience with DC legislators

(left to right) Jerry Cook, Cameron Thompson, Hutch Andersen, Katie Beasley, Senator Lankford, Penny Turner, NSU President Steve Turner, Kin Thompson, Cydney Dillard, Connor Schwab, Caitlyn Boultinghouse inside the senator's office in Washington D.C.

The President’s Leadership Class at Northeastern State University is a leadership-focused program designed to cultivate outstanding potential in proven student leaders and goes beyond the monetary aspect of any regular scholarship.

It is awarded to freshmen who show their affinity for learning, service and developing leadership acumen. Six students demonstrated this potential and commitment, as they were whisked away to Washington D.C. from Feb. 24-28 earlier this year.

“For many years we have discussed taking a small group of PLC students to meet with elected officials and to become more educated about our federal government, history and current leaders. This year we were able to make it happen,” Jerry Cook, director of NSU Community & Government Relations said.

PLC members Hutch Andrews, Caitlyn Boultinghouse, Cameron Thompson, Cydney Dillard, Kaitlan Beasley and Conner Schwab flew to the District alongside NSU President Steve Turner, his wife Penny, Dr. Kin Thompson, PLC sponsor and Cook.

From a private, nighttime tour of the Capitol with Congressman Markwayne Mullin, to breakfast at the Library of Congress with Congressman Tom Cole, to unexpectedly bumping into Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, the students heralded the four days in the District as a once in a lifetime experience.

“Our meetings were eye-opening and educational. I try to stay tuned in with current politics and this trip showed me the importance of keeping up to date with it,” Schwab said.

Schwab, who has aspirations of becoming a high school English teacher and soccer coach, said the trip’s exposure to elected officials was a unique experience.

“I want to go back to DC at some point, but I won't be able to have the opportunities to do the meetings, tours and events that I did with PLC. Overall, it was a trip I won't forget.”

Cook made sure the students had access to and private meetings with congressmen and senators, whom he said are the ultimate policy makers in the country.

“My hopes are that we provided them a taste of how leadership in that environment transforms things we do in our communities, our state, the nation and the world,” Cook said.

Boultinghouse said she benefited from interacting with various personnel in the District.

“We were able to meet with multiple Oklahoman Congressmen including Senators James Lankford and Jim Inhofe who educated us on everything from national security, to education, to the presidential race and healthcare. I enjoyed so much being able to converse with them about things that are important not only to me, but students in general.”

For Andersen, the trip allowed him to see how being pro-active on campus and in your community is vital for growth and positive change.

“PLC is about being a leader and a mover and shaker on campus. The scholarship prompts you to get out of your shell, make a difference at NSU and your community, and hopefully leave a legacy.”

To be a part of this auspicious class, students must be involved in a leadership capacity with at least two campus organizations. Volunteerism is a key component as well, as candidates help with the RiverHawks Food Pantry and an off-campus entity of their choosing.

Boultinghouse said meeting other like-minded students with similar aspirations to make a difference has made her push herself.

“I believe being a part of the President's Leadership Class completely made my collegiate experience. I cannot imagine having gone through school without meeting and working with the other student leaders I now call friends.”

So far, Cameron Thompson has appreciated the chance to use her leadership skills on campus, learn new leadership skills, network with fellow PLC alums, and serve her campus and community.

“PLC pushes me to become a better leader not only in the scholarship program but in other organizations on campus and in the classroom.”

She said it was a humbling experience to be able to spend time in the country’s capital with her PLC colleagues, while learning so much from elected officials.

Cook described these candidates as the next generation of Oklahoma leaders who need the exposure to understand what their roles will be in the future.

“Their time here at NSU as seniors in the PLC is fleeting, but I hope the memories and what they learn will fuel their fires for leading in a world hungry for change and opportunity.”

Visit PLC scholarship for more information.

Published: 4/1/2016 9:01:32 AM

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