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Koch Fellows Honored at Annual Reception

By Amanda Morad | March 18, 2014

Hilary Davenport shares her Koch Leaders Program experience.

"Leadership is a heavy word. People are asking what it takes to be a good leader," said Dr. Gerson Moreno-RiaƱo, dean of Regent University's College of Arts & Sciences (CAS). "There's a lot of deep thinking going on about leadership in this country, and it's important we're a part of that conversation."

The Koch Leaders Program has been in effect at Regent for three years, and on Monday, March 11, the 2014 Koch Fellows were honored at an annual reception. This year's crop of high-achieving scholars is larger than ever before, thanks to the increased support of the Charles Koch Foundation.

These 16 students have taken on a year of concentrated reading and study about human flourishing, political liberty and economic freedom. "The purpose of this program is to produce leaders," said Dr. William Reddinger, one of the program's faculty advisors.

The reception was a celebration of their hard work and an encouragement that their dedication will have an impact long term. Leah Hughey, one of Regent's first Koch Fellows, offered such encouragement.

"If you allow it to, this can be one of the most life-changing experiences of your life," she said. Hughey would know. She landed an internship in the office of Congressman Scott Rigell '90 (R-VA 2nd District) right out of her fellowship year and now works with the Charles Koch Foundation to implement educational programs like Regent's at other institutions.

Current fellows also spoke about their experience in the program. "Regent and Koch are giving us the opportunity to discuss economic and political freedom, but we're not just discussing them theoretically," said junior Hilary Davenport. "We're learning how to apply them to follow our callings and change the world."

Sophomore Danijel Brooks concurred. "America doesn't ask the questions or get the results it once did," he said. "We talk about freedom, liberty, rights, but do we really know what they mean? We're taking the time to search them out in this program."

Dr. Anne Rathbone-Bradley, vice president for Economic Initiatives at the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics, followed the students' remarks with her thoughts on flourishing, stewardship and the concept that empowers the first two, freedom.

"All of Scripture applies to all of life," she said. "It is incumbent upon us as Christians to go to the Bible first and upon that foundation build our ideas about liberty and freedom."

With this in mind, she explained that flourishing isn't the destination of mankind but its origin. "The garden God created was perfect, but it wasn't finished," she said. "It's our job to finish it ... Use your talent and creativity to leave this place you were born in better than when you entered it."

Stewardship, Rathbone-Bradley explained, isn't just about preservation of the earth or the allocation of wealth. "It's about the working out of our journey as unique and distinct creations," she said. "God created us to do something. You can do what you're called to do like no one else, and we're designed that way because we can't do everything by ourselves."

She drew an analogy to the film Cast Away in which Tom Hanks' character is stranded on an island alone and has to devote every waking hour to survival. "Markets help us come together and serve one another with our gifts," she said.

Lastly, none of that would be possible without freedom, Rathbone-Bradley explained. "With freedom, people are moved from surviving to thriving," she said. "We're living in the most abundant society in history. We are richer than Napoleon ever was. And it's all driven by freedom."

This fact leaves students with a great deal of responsibility, she said. "Figure out what you're called to do and pursue it with abandon."

Learn more about the College of Arts & Sciences or the Regent Koch Leaders Program.


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