Presidential Leadership Academy accepting nominations for membership

December 07, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Nominations are now being accepted for the 30 rising Penn State University Park sophomores — current freshmen who will be sophomores in the fall of 2016 — for membership to the Presidential Leadership Academy (PLA). Penn State faculty and staff may nominate qualified students from across the University through Jan. 22, 2016.

Faculty may submit nominations through the PLA online form. Students nominated for the academy will be asked to complete the application process, which includes submission of a current resume listing campus or external leadership activities, a letter of recommendation from an individual (mentor, coach, supervisor), and two essays. A minimum GPA of 3.2 at the time of application is required.

Students may also submit personal applications for the Presidential Leadership Academy beginning Monday, Dec. 7, with the same requirements as above, plus the addition of a letter of reference from a Penn State faculty member, staff member or adviser. Details on how to apply are posted here. The deadline for student applications is Jan. 29, 2016.

“As a member of the Presidential Leadership Academy, students can have the most unique experiences of their Penn State career,” said Melissa Doberstein, director of the Presidential Leadership Academy. “Not only are they able to interact with the president of the university, but it allows them to engage with students outside of their major and form bonds that last a lifetime. The exposure to a wide spectrum of opportunities and meetings with leaders across enterprises combine the lessons from the classroom with the real world. Each class has a different experience, as the discussions focus on emerging issues that are prevalent nationally and internationally.”

"I will forever be grateful for the experiences I have had in the PLA, experiences that have helped me become a more knowledgeable citizen, a better communicator and a stronger leader.” 

Emily Waschenko, senior PLA member

Founded with a lead gift from Edward R. and Helen S. Hintz in 2009, the Presidential Leadership Academy was established with the goal of developing critical thinking skills and educating students to understand issues broadly with consideration for the complexity and variability of world matters, decisions and life’s circumstances.

“My greatest takeaway from the Presidential Leadership Academy has been the opportunity to network and collaborate with individuals from varying backgrounds with such diverse interests and unique talents,” said senior PLA member Emily Waschenko. “Together, we have debated some of the most controversial issues, visited some of the most historically rich and progressive places, and even devised policy proposals centered on education in effort to positively impact generations to come. I will forever be grateful for the experiences I have had in the PLA, experiences that have helped me become a more knowledgeable citizen, a better communicator and a stronger leader.”

In addition to coursework for the program, students attend leadership seminars, engage in community programs and participate in fully-funded field trips planned each academic semester to give students a broader prospective on social, political and environmental issues. Penn State President Eric Barron teaches a weekly seminar course during the three-year program with additional honors courses led by Schreyer Honors College Dean Christian Brady and Doberstein. The final year concludes with a capstone experience and creation of an e-portfolio.

The PLA fosters an environment that promotes and develops values critical for potential leaders including civility, philanthropy, respect for diversity and student engagement. Within this academic community of students, faculty and administrators, multiple dimensions of issues are explored, diverse viewpoints are encouraged and heard, and a fully informed and respectful discourse ensues that leads to sound action. 

Last Updated December 07, 2015