As an alumna of the National Youth Leadership Forum in Engineering and Technology, Ciera Presley recently attended the Presidential Inauguration Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. She received her notification in August of 2016. Nomination for attendance at the event required academic excellence in the Envision Program: Maintaining a 3.0 GPA, submitting 2 short essays about future interests, and leadership potential demonstrated by extracurricular activities.

“When I was in eighth grade I got a letter in the mail from Envision saying that they were impressed with my grade and leadership skills. They wanted me to come to a camp that they were having, but my summer was full that year. The next few years they sent me more letters, but last year was the first time that I could attend one of the camps. I went to the engineering and technology camp at George Tech University in 2016.” said Presley, a native of Batesville, MS and current vocal music student at Mississippi School of the Arts

The extraordinary five-day summit in D.C. was Ciera’s chance to witness history, be inspired by world-renowned change agents, and meet new friends as she collaborated with other motivated students to discuss and discover 21st century solutions to the challenges of her generation. “My favorite part about the Summit were the speakers that came and spoke to us.” said Presley.

On the morning of Inauguration Day, Ciera joined fellow Summit Scholars at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, then was escorted to the National Mall for the official Inauguration Ceremony. Among the many other highlights of the 2017 Presidential Inauguration Leadership Summit were presentations by extraordinary speakers like General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.) , U.S. Secretary of State (2001-2005), and Award-winning Director, Wirter, Actor, Producer, Author & Influencer Spike Lee. The Summit also featured inspirational sessions with Abby Wambach, soccer champion, Olympic Gold Medalist and World Cup champion, and American soccer icon; Governor Martin O’Malley. former Mayor of Baltimore, Governor of Maryland, and 2016 Presidential Candidate; Carly Fiorina; former 2016 Presidential Candidate and former CEO of Hewlett-Packard; General Stanley McChrystal; USA (Ret.), former Commander of U.S. and International Forces in Afghanistan; Donna Brazile, veteran Democratic Political Strategist, Analyst for CNN, and Contributor for ABC News; and Tucker Carlson, Co-Host of Fox and Friends Weekend and Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Caller.

“The speakers each shared their view on the presidential campaign and what they thought needs to be changed in America. They also talked about leadership and their life stories of how they got to where they are now. My Favorite speaker was Gov. O’Malley, because he was very positive and always smiling even when Carly Fiorina was bashing him on the stage about his political views.”

Regardless of political stance, the importance of learning the political process in government is essential as a student and American citizen. Ciera had the best opportunity to witness this first-hand at our nation’s capital.

“The overall experience of the Summit was amazing. Even with 2,500 people, the program was very organized and the people were very professional. The high school students there were very educated and didn’t take this experience as a joke. Seeing everyone with their different political views was great, because they didn’t argue which political party was better or worse. Instead, they accepted your views and you accepted theirs without arguing. Even if there was a disagreement, it was worked out in a professional manner.” said Presley.

Students at Mississippi School of the Arts learn the political process in government and history classes, taught by veteran instructor Lori Britt. Students also have the opportunity to participate in the Student Government Association (SGA), where select students are charged with leadership roles and conduct campus activities. This past election cycle, SGA conducted a mock election with students by casting ballots during lunch in the dining area of MSA (The Phoenix).

For more information about the Presidential Inauguration Leadership Summit, click here.


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