Three local students were selected to participate in a recent prestigious leadership conference.
Student Leadership University (SLU) is a faith-based, experiential leadership training program that empowers, enables and equips students to rise to the call of leadership and awaken their potential to step forth in this world to lead like Jesus, according to organizers.
SLU was founded by Dr. Jay Strack in 1996. Based out of Orlando, Florida, the program offers four levels of training, beginning with 101 which takes place in Orlando. After completing this level the student moves to the next tier, which is 201 in Washington D.C., 301 takes place abroad in London and Normandy and 401 has typically been held in the Holy Land.
This year Olivia Robertson, a sophomore at J. Frank White Academy, Rachel Graves, a freshman at Cumberland Gap High School (CGHS) and Corey Lawson, a sophomore at CGHS, attended SLU 101. The group was chaperoned by Adam Robertson, president of Commercial Bank, also a former Student Leadership University attendee.
Lawson was awarded the first Dr. Edwin G. Robertson Scholarship, which will go annually to a Tennessee student wishing to attend SLU 101 and who shows exemplary potential leadership skills. The scholarship fund was set up in honor of the late Dr. Robertson, who was a board member along with his wife, Judy Robertson, from the program’s conception.
“This trip was very encouraging,” said Lawson, the son of Avery and Amanda Lawson of Harrogate. “There were so many things taught about being a leader and how to become a leader or a stronger leader. We had so many speakers who gave some great information to point us in the direction of becoming a leader, and they each had something different to say and teach. We also got to meet some very amazing people.”
Graves, the daughter of Kojack and Shannon Graves of Speedwell, relished her experience at SLU as well.
“I really enjoyed the atmosphere there. I felt safe to express who I am in Christ without being persecuted for my beliefs. I have attended other leadership conferences for teens that are so far from my faith that I felt like they were teaching me that in order to lead, I had to compromise my principles. I had to completely block what was being taught in some instances because it was in conflict with what God tells us. But at SLU, it was safe to use and apply those lessons because they completely lined up with the Bible. I left SLU encouraged, and for a first time in a while, not beaten down for being a Christian,” she said.
Olivia Robertson, the daughter of Adam and Cindi Robertson of Speedwell, also spoke of her beliefs as a young Christian leader.
“I can’t begin to describe how amazing SLU was. Being in a Christian conference where the standards of a leader are based off of what God wants instead of what the world wants was a fresh breath of air. Every lesson we were taught was based off the Bible and God’s plan for us. As Christians we are often silenced by the world for what we believe, but as a younger Christian it’s good to know that my voice could be heard — especially when there are other kids my age who feel the same way and are willing to do something. Being surrounded by other kids who want to strengthen their walk with the Lord is really inspiring and can only make one want to strive harder to get closer to God. This is a conference that I would definitely recommend to other people! Thank you SLU for such a God-centered environment, and showing us how to be like Christ who is the ultimate leader,” she said.
Lawson continued, “God made this trip possible in so many ways and I am also thankful that I got to be a part of this great opportunity. I am looking forward to the years to come of becoming a stronger leader. One quote that I believe sums up everything we learned about is, ‘A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way,’ by John C. Maxwell.”
If you are interested in more information regarding Student Leadership University please contact Adam Robertson at Commercial Bank at 423-869-5151.
Reach Marisa Anders at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @newsgirl88.