Growing young leaders during Summer Leadership Institute 2018 at Olivet

An intense 48 hours of experiential learning for high school students and their doctoral student trainers

July 20, 2018 Uncategorized

During Olivet Nazarene University’s 2018 Summer Leadership Institute (SLI) — held on the main campus in Bourbonnais, Illinois — high school students experienced an intense 48 hours of experiential learning. Their trainers were doctoral students in the Doctor of Ethical Leadership (Ed.D.) degree program.

With a sharp focus on identifying and developing leadership skills, the SLI experience continues to result in personal growth for everyone involved.

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“I came to SLI to become more confident and a better leader,” says Cassandra Pichardo, a high school senior and one of the student participants. “The people are great, and Olivet’s environment is breathtaking. This program is opening my eyes to want to be a better person.”

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For 2018 — the sixth consecutive year for SLI at Olivet — the students took on several challenges: 

  • Growing in the areas of self-awareness, valuing others, constructive conflict, communication, goal setting and interdependence
  • Exercising their thinking and reasoning skills
  • Solving problems and formulating strategies
  • Stretching physically for competitions, races and even scaling Olivet’s rock wall in the Perry Student Life and Recreation Center
  • Learning more about themselves and how they interact with others through the Clifton StrengthsFinder presentation

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“All activities were so much fun in unique ways,” says Vera Mehnert, a high school senior and one of the student participants. “SLI was even more engaging and fun than I expected because it’s activity-based. My biggest takeaway from SLI is that encouraging others to be leaders is the best way we can be leaders.”

Prior to the two SLI days in July, Ed.D. students devoted several weeks of their class meeting and study time to plan and organize the entire event. Seeing their plans come to life in the interactions of SLI participants brought many smiles and even a few tears.

Philbert John, an Ed.D. student who is a human resources and finance executive from Kansas City, shares: “These high school students are just getting ready for college, and we’re at the end of our college experience. During SLI, we shared with them why we’re doing what we’re doing. My success is defined by how many people I help grow and progress in their education and careers.”

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Dr. Martinson 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.


Published: 7/20/2018

Student on main campus wearing pink sweater and holding water bottle.

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