Ten girls from New York City are on campus this week learning about various areas of studies, life in the Midwest and what it means to be a leader regardless of where you live or what you do.
It’s part of a partnership between Stephens and Girls Prep Lower East Side Middle School, and this is the third year the Leadership Academy has been held at Stephens.
This year’s academy is more experiential than in previous years, said Alex Newfield, director of high school admissions and college completion at the middle school. The students flew into St. Louis over the weekend and on Monday visited the Boeing Company, where they explored the facilities and talked to women working in engineering and aeronautics and defense. On campus Tuesday, the middle school students had a chance to visit the Equestrian Center, and today, they got to conduct a science experiment at Pillsbury Science Center.
Senior Katie Sharp led that workshop, helping students figure out how to use microscopes and encouraging them when things didn’t go accordingly.
“That’s science,” she said at one point. “Things don’t always work out.”
Later Wednesday, the group was expected to tour an Amish community.
“They’ve been excited the entire time,” said Ada Gallup, who’s overseeing the academy. “They’ve asked educated questions, are engaged and interested.”
The primary goal of the academy is to show the girls how leadership can apply in a number of settings, Gallup said, be it women who oversee campus facilities or female corporate presidents.
“We’re showcasing women in leadership roles in so many industries,” she said.
And that doesn’t just apply to the grown-up world. One unlikely leader the middle school students had a chance to meet was an 11-year-old 4-H member showing her prized heifer at the Boone County Fair Tuesday night.
“They got to see a girl their age lead a 1,250-pound show heifer,” Gallup said, “and how through 4-H, these kids are using this as leadership experiences and to raise money for college.”
Although the New Yorkers had read a book regarding food production prior to the visit, Newfield said, “it’s something else to see it first hand in a farm setting.”
Tomorrow, the group will take a trip to the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri—an annual volunteer trip that “hits home the closest,” Newfield said.
Not only does it show them that poverty and hunger is widespread and not just isolated in urban areas, it also gives them a chance to help in a way that’s measurable—in the past, participants have talked about how many pounds of food they handled and how many families that would feed, she said.
The academy concludes Saturday with a commencement ceremony after successful completion of individual presentations on Friday.
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