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Pilot Leadership Academy to Prepare Central Texas High School Students for Future Challenges

LBJ School’s Center for Politics and Governance, Texas Exes and the University Lead New Endeavor

AUSTIN, Texas-- July 14, 2010-- Fifty students from Central Texas high schools arrived at The University of Texas at Austin on July 18, to begin an intensive four-day leadership academy designed to give them the skills to address the needs of the next generation, including a growing Hispanic population that has become the largest and youngest minority group in the United States.

Subiendo: The Academy for Rising Leaders,  July 18-21, is a new endeavor by the Center for Politics and Governance at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, the Texas Exes and the university.

"It is imperative that these emerging leaders receive the necessary education and training to realize their potential," said Veronica Vargas Stidvent, director of the Center for Politics and Governance in the LBJ School of Public Affairs.

Throughout the course of their stay, students had the opportunity to meet and hear from Texas's most distinguished political and business leaders. Speakers included Gov. Rick Perry; Henry Cisneros, former San Antonio mayor; University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa; Sara Martinez Tucker, former under secretary at the U.S. Department of Education; Lee Yeakel, U.S. district judge for the Western District of Texas; and David G. Booth, founder of Dimensional Fund Advisors.

Activities included an etiquette dinner with high-profile community leaders, and a crisis management simulation where they were divided into groups, given a realistic crisis scenario and asked to strategize solutions. They also participated in a communications workshop, and hadtime to work on creating a policy to help solve a real-world problem in their communities.

On Wednesday, July 21, the students traveled to the Texas state Capitol where they presented the policies they e created, took questions from their fellow students and then voted on the policy as if they were members of the state legislature. At the end of the practice, journalists from the Capitol press corps asked the students questions about their work in a press conference-style simulation.

The academy is funded by philanthropy and is free for participating students. For the summer 2010 academy, applications were open to Central Texas high school students, regardless of race or ethnicity, who had completed their junior year of high school by July 1. Students were asked to complete an application and essay on the challenges facing the state of Texas and to submit an application online. The academy's goal is to expand the program in future years to include students from throughout Texas.


The Austin American Statesman - Student leaders take spotlight at free UT academy - July 19. 2010