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International Youth Leadership Institute Instills Vital Principles

By Amanda Morad | August 3, 2012

International Youth Leadership Institute students (L-R) Nathanya Zyl, Brandon Walker and Kareena Ali.

For many people, summers come and go as a time to relax. But the three students selected for Regent University's International Youth Leadership Institute this July did everything but relax.

The summer program, sponsored by Regent's Professional & Continuing Education (PCE), provided an introduction to leadership principles for young adults in high school or preparing for college.

Over the nine-day course, students Brandon Walker (USA), Kareena Ali (Iraq) and Nathanya Zyl (South Africa) convened on Regent's campus for classes and lectures, field trips, activities, and networking opportunities.

"It was as if leadership was redefined for me through this course," said Zyl, a 25-year-old boutique hotel owner from Pretoria, South Africa. "Leadership is not just having influence on others but leaving footprints worthy of walking in."

Zyl came to the program on the recommendation of John Jones '10 (Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship), PCE's program manager on the ground in South Africa. With a passion for women in leadership and a vision for her motherland, Zyl knew the Youth Leadership Institute would be a big step forward in her journey. "In South Africa, there's a big need for strong leadership," she said. "The biggest lesson I've learned here is how to be a productive, strong leader."

Ali's story is different, but the result has been the same: invaluable lessons in servant leadership from a Christian perspective. Coming to Regent from Iraqi Kurdistan, 18-year-old Ali experienced a bit of culture shock when she arrived in the United States and was introduced to the concept of servant leadership.

"The leaders I have met here are not like the leaders at home," she says. "The things they're teaching us are so important. Leadership is something I need in my home and my country, and I have learned how to be a great leader."

A Regent student and friend of Ali's told her about the Youth Leadership Institute on a trip to Iraq. In response to her desire to become a leader in her community, Ali knew she had to come.

"We always wait for God to tell us what to do, but He wants us to move," she encouraged. "Don't wait. He wants us to choose to serve Him."

Ali, Zyl and Walker enjoyed trips to Colonial Williamsburg, local museums and cultural points of interest during the Institute. Most importantly, they also had the opportunity to connect with renowned Regent faculty members from the School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship and the School of Undergraduate Studies (RSU).

"Leadership is a people process—how to inspire people, how to motivate people, how to guide people," said Dr. Michael Hartsfield, assistant professor in RSU, in his class on emotional intelligence. "One of the worst things a leader can do is to say one thing and live something completely different .... Behavior is all followers see."

Hartsfield's class was one of six intensives the students attended throughout the course.

Learn more about PCE's programs.


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Phone: 757.352.4095 Fax: 757.352.4888
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