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Growing young leaders through Olivet’s Summer Leadership Institute

Posted: Aug 03, 2017


"When we put all our strengths together and cover each other’s weaknesses, we can build a stronger leadership team." — Cami DeMott of Evart, Michigan, at Olivet Nazarene University's 2017 Summer Leadership Institute


Doctoral students in the Doctor of Education in Ethical Leadership (Ed.D.) degree program serve as trainers for the high school students who attend Olivet's Summer Leadership Institute.


"At Olivet, our goal is to empower students to become positive change agents in their schools and communities." — Dr. Jay Martinson, professor and chair of Olivet’s Department of Communication

High school students experience an intense 48 hours of experiential learning at Olivet Nazarene University’s Summer Leadership Institute (SLI). Doctoral students in the Doctor of Education in Ethical Leadership (Ed.D.) degree program serve as their trainers. With a sharp focus on identifying and developing leadership skills, the SLI experience results in personal growth for everyone.

For 2017 — the fifth consecutive year for SLI — the young students took on the challenge of growing in the areas of self-awareness, communication, goal setting and interdependence. Exercising their thinking and reasoning skills, they solved problems and formulated strategies. They stretched themselves physically for competitions, races and even scaling Olivet’s rock wall.

Prior to the two SLI days in July, Ed.D. students devoted two months of their class meeting and study time to planning and organizing the entire event. This is the final group project for completing their degree requirements. Seeing their plans come to life in the interactions of SLI participants is the greatest reward they could receive.

As an Ed.D. student and coach for the high school students, Veronica Abney, a church administrator from Chicago, learned a powerful lesson from the members of her Green Team. “I saw that our team needed more cohesiveness and self-confidence to build momentum for the activities and competitions,” she says. “I gave each team member a green bandana to wear. That’s when I saw the power of a team as they learned to work together and succeeded. Something so simple added value for our students.”

Alex Dtcher of Fairfield, Ohio, was a member of the Green Team. “At SLI, I learned a lot about working with a group,” he says. “I know more about how to value the others in the group, about how to be self-aware of the effects of my actions.”

Dr. Jay Martinson, professor and chair of Olivet’s Department of Communication, adds: “Young students have all kinds of gifts and strengths. They need encouragement and need to feel empowered. At SLI, we focus on awakening their innate leadership abilities so they can go on to use those abilities. We want them to be positive change agents in their schools and communities.”

To learn more about Olivet’s Doctor of Ethical Leadership (Ed.D.) degree program and the Summer Leadership Institute, contact the Office of Admissions at or 800-648-1463.