St. Edward's University Students Travel to Washington, D.C., for Leadership Tour
In mid-November, 18 St. Edward’s University students along with two university staff members traveled to Washington, D.C., for a five-day study tour on leadership as part of the Hilltop Leaders program under the Hilltop Leadership Development organization.
During their stay in the nation’s capital, the group had the opportunity to meet leaders from the Pentagon, World Bank among others, and learn from their experiences.
Hilltop Leader students Michaela Larson ’14, a political science major, and Paul Davies ’15, a biology major, both attended the trip. While these two students may have different goals for their future, they both learned valuable lessons while in D.C.
“There are many different paths to success. Life is going to present opportunities that can end up taking you in a completely different direction from what you originally planned,” Larson said.
“And, there are different types of leadership,” Davies said. “Leadership has a different definition for everyone.”
Even though Davies isn’t a political science major, he learned what he needs to achieve his goals, “Listening to the stories has been an inspiration. Every speaker had an unforeseen future, and they embraced every opportunity.”
“I would recommend this trip to anyone who loves politics and wants an insight into how leadership plays a role in D.C.” Davies said.
“If nothing else, this experience will help me be on time for class. People in D.C. walk extremely fast,” Davies joked. On a more serious note, the trip has left Davies with a sense of optimism. “Opportunities that I can gain from St. Edward’s will go on to help me later in life. This trip taught me a lot about networking — the more people I meet and things I do here at St. Edward’s will help me.”
One component of the tour consisted of a dinner with seven alumni who live in the D.C area. They gave the students a chance to see how far graduates from St. Edward's can go. One alumnus, Brandon Lepow, who works with the White House, even set up a West Wing tour for the group.
“Meeting the alumni was definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip,” Larson said. “I enjoyed interacting with them because they had been through all the experiences that we will be facing after college.” Hearing their stories inspired and motivated Larson. “There was a sense of community. You're not alone and alumni can help you.”
Larson knows that her classes are extremely important, but they are not the only component of her education. “Getting involved on campus, having a sense of community and developing leadership skills can be helpful,” she said. “This trip inspired me to make the most of the rest of my time at St. Edward’s, experience things and take advantage of every opportunity I'm given.”
Her future aspirations are clear. “When I returned home from D.C, my new plan became getting back to D.C.,” she said. “This doesn't necessarily mean I know exactly what I want to do with my life, but this trip showed me that the next step in my journey will take place on Capitol Hill.”
The Hilltop Leaders travel to Washington, D.C., every year. The program is a yearlong experience open to freshmen and sophomores who are interested in learning about who they are as leaders and exploring the many ways that leadership manifests itself in different settings. If you are interested in learning more about this organization or applying for next fall, visit Hilltop Leaders or stop by Student Life.