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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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Princeton to serve as home for new student leadership institute

Princeton University will be the home this summer for a new program intended to develop the leadership potential of promising high school students from racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds that are underrepresented in the national leadership pool.

Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America's LEDA Scholars Program will launch its Aspects of Leadership Summer Institute on the campus between June 18 and Aug. 14.

Fifty-four students who will be high school seniors this fall will take classes and participate in other activities intended to help prepare them for enrollment in selective colleges and universities.

Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America was founded by Gary Simons, who also started the renowned Prep for Prep program in New York City in 1978. Prep for Prep was designed to develop the leadership potential of underrepresented students in New York City.

The new organization has two programs: the LEDA College-Bound Community, which focuses on New York City high school sophomores; and the LEDA Scholars Program, which targets rising seniors from small-town and rural high schools.

Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman serves on the LEDA board of trustees. "In keeping with Princeton's efforts to broaden access to higher education, we are delighted to welcome the Aspects of Leadership Summer Institute to our campus," she said. "This is a critical component of the LEDA Scholars Program, which will give talented but disadvantaged high school students from across America a unique opportunity to develop the skills and confidence they need to realize their potential and, one day, help guide our nation in ways that serve the common good."

In addition to serving as the home for the program, the University is helping to provide some of the staff. Graduate students Ethan Schoolman and Shana Kushner will be two of the four facilitators, leading the classes in the curriculum. According to Lance Fialkoff, director of the LEDA Scholars Program, the graduate students are experienced assistants in instruction and "really stood out as strong teachers."

Six Princeton undergraduate students will be working as residential coordinators: Steven Brown, Lubna Malik, Danielle Hamilton, Darnell Motley, Stephanie Okonkwo and Cynthia Akatugba. Serving as an assistant director of residential life will be Awilda Rodriguez, a 2003 Princeton graduate who works as a talent search officer for LEDA during the academic year.

From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, the high school students will be enrolled in the rigorous Aspects of Leadership curriculum, which involves discussions based on reading assignments, role-playing and group activities. They will develop their writing and analytical skills in preparation for college-level work through frequent writing assignments. The group will be using various classrooms and computer clusters around the campus.

To balance the academic work, there will be Saturday trips to local and New York metropolitan area attractions. Fialkoff said the group hopes to take advantage of Princeton resources, such as the University Art Museum, recreational facilities and summer programs with offerings open to neighbors. "We will try to have students benefit from all the wonderful things that are around the campus," he said. "We'd like to become an active part of the community as much as we can."

Following the summer program, LEDA staff members will stay in close contact with the students, guiding them through the college application process.

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