By Kathleen Hilliard.
The President’s Leadership Program is a freshman-based program that is described as being an immersive leadership course dedicated to future and emerging leaders at Northwestern State University. It can be taken in the place of the University Experience course required by all undergraduate degrees.
Chosen by demonstrating their ability to utilize leadership qualities while working towards a collective goal, the program is only eligible for first-year freshman who have been interviewed or recommended. It offers opportunities to not only serve the university at various events throughout the year, but also to make an impact in the surrounding area through community service opportunities.
“The class is provided to help develop us as leaders,” said freshman biology major Hannah Durgin. “We are tested in new ways whether it is on the spot questions or things we have to think long and hard about.”
This semester, the program is participating in a multitude of ‘impact projects’ designed to make a positive and tangible difference in the community.
“There are a wide range of projects we are doing this semester, from working with local elementary schools to assisting with the upkeep of the Ben Johnson gardens,” said freshman history major Lauren Briscoe. “Students were allowed to choose what group they wanted to work with.”
The students were given creative control over the planning of the project and how it would impact the community.
“These projects allow us to be a part of something bigger than ourselves,” said freshman communications major Mekayla Jenkins. “I love being a part of a group of people making connections throughout the community of Natchitoches to better ourselves and others.”
One of the projects being worked on by members of the President’s Leadership Program is a ‘girls supporting girls’ group at the East Natchitoches Elementary & Middle School. The group consists of freshmen Hannah Durgin, Mekayla Jenkins and Lauren Briscoe.
“We strive to help young girls understand the value of their worth, and to guide them in the right direction of how to respect themselves and others, all while embracing who they are,” said Durgin.
“Our goal is to prepare today’s girls to be tomorrow’s women,” said Jenkins.
At the close of the semester, each group will be asked to present their project, along with photographs of them engaging in the project that they’ve designed. They will be required to further explain how they’ve made an impact.
“This is something that can be continued a long time, whether it be 10 years or even 50 years-as long as there are people willing to step up and make a difference,” said Durgin.
All three freshmen boasted upon the class’s benefits, which consist of creating friendships, networking throughout the community and opening doors for future leadership and involvement opportunities.
“For years, PLP has helped lay the foundation for many successful student-leaders, and I’m confident they’ll continue to do so for years to come!” said Briscoe.