Participants of Fort Bend ISD’s Junior Student Leadership Program concluded the seven-month program that helped build their awareness, understanding and appreciation of leadership roles in our community. Through the FBISD Board-sponsored program, 24 high school juniors were given the opportunity to explore leadership roles of professionals who work in the volunteerism, judicial, medical, government and business industries.
The 2012-2013 Junior Student Leadership Cohort included: Mary Abella (Austin), Erin Breaux (Hightower), Reina Chang (Dulles), Anthony Espinal (Hightower), Danielle Fournier (Kempner), Katherine Goss (Ridge Point), Ashley Gough (Kempner), Justine Hall (Travis), Prema Kamnani (Elkins), Helen Li (Travis), Hilario Lumbreras (Austin), Jasmine Medina (Willowridge), Jonathan Mohammad (Hightower), Carolyn Nguyen (Bush), Emmanuel Nnali (Bush), Caleb Pete (Marshall), Natasha Pirani (Marshall), Cody Price (Bush), Christi Reynolds (Austin), Ruhika Roy (Elkins), Conner Smith (Dulles), Sanjana Srikanth (Clements), Kaylan Whitaker (Willowridge) and Natalie Wolf (Clements).
The students devoted a full day each month to attending leadership sessions that included completing StrengthsFinder lessons, led by Yolanda Young, Coordinator in the Department of Organizational Development, to help determine their personal strengths. The sessions also included monthly field trips where the students met with various community leaders, including Carolyn Tarver, Founder of Project SMILE; Judge Ruby Shaw, Fort Bend County Truancy Court; Dr. Kulvinder Bajwa, Greg Haralson, CEO of Memorial Hermann Hospital-Sugar Land; Mayor Allen Owen, City of Missouri City; and Keri Schmidt, CEO and President of the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce.
“Being in the Leadership Program has helped me understand how the world is such a busy place,” said Kaylan Whitaker of Willowridge High School. “I have grown significantly over the past few months by being in this program and have gained a greater outlook on my community.”
The students’ final session involved participating in a ROPES course that tested their strength and ability to work as a team. Leading the group were program facilitators Lynda Ruther, Mike Madden and ROPES Facilitator Jim Harton. Susan Hohnbaum, FBISD Board Member, joined the students in the final session, volunteering to take the first climb on the ROPES course. Charles Dupre, Superintendent of Schools, also stopped by to commend the students on their involvement in the program and hear about their experiences.
“During our session on volunteering, Becky Torres told us about her role in founding Bethel Ministries, which serves underprivileged children in our community,” said Katherine Goss of Ridge Point High School. “I was so inspired by her that I went to my Destination Imagination group and expressed how much I wanted to help with the ministry. Since then, we have volunteered multiple times at the facility.”
During their senior year of the Leadership Program, the juniors will have more “hands-on” experiences in community service. During the spring leadership sessions this year, the students developed and presented ideas for community service projects (such as health fairs and other community awareness events) that they can help sponsor.
To help mark the conclusion of this year’s Junior Student Leadership Program, the FBISD Board of Trustees held a reception in honor of the students, and recognized them and the program facilitators at their May 20 Regular Meeting.