From March 1-3, 17 members of the junior class traveled to Chapel Hill, N.C. as members of the Harris-Stanford Honors Program. Some students have been involved in the program since their freshman year, while others joined just weeks ago after being selected as Abshire Leadership Fellows.
The Harris Stanford Honors Program was modeled after college honors programs, partnering with local, regional, and national organizations to immerse students into the community through seminars, travel, and other civic and learning opportunities. One of the partners is the Institute of Public Trust, a non-partisan, non-profit organization based in Raleigh, N.C. Baylor has the privilege of being the first and only high school involved with the prestigious leadership program. The opportunity gave students the ability to learn more about local and national government that many will apply to their future pursuits in college and possibly in the political realm.
Sunday, March 2, began at Duke University where students had the privilege of hearing two speakers, Mac McCorkle and Howard Lee. McCorkle graduated from Princeton magna cum laude with a degree in history and from Duke Law School with honors. Most recently he has served as an issues consultant for the past 20 years for a variety of organizations and campaigns. McCorkle’s lecture, entitled ‘Thinking Anew about the Constitution and Public Service,’ entailed a brief history lesson on the constitution, its founders, and its impact on government today. The next speaker, Howard Lee, is a former mayor of Chapel Hill from 1969-1975, and was the first African American to be elected in any city in the South. Lee has written a book entitled The Courage to Lead and also has a passion for early childhood development. His speech on ‘Why I Ran for Public Office’ was an introspective view on the obstacles he faced to achieve his position and how he went about it. Later that morning, students toured Duke’s beautiful campus with Maddie Lundberg ’18, and viewed Duke’s gothic style buildings detailed with advanced modern technology and buildings throughout.
That afternoon, they traveled to N.C. State for a lecture by Gil Greggs titled "2500 Year Philosophical Journey from Athens to Modern America." Greggs, a Yale graduate as well as Director of Academic Symposia and Director of Biblical Studies at St. David’s School in Raleigh N.C., discussed the issue of ethics and philosophy in government and the questions philosophers ask, yet have still failed to answer. His speech was interactive causing students to debate various points of view even though despite the lack of a correct answer. The second lecture by Billy Warden titled "How to Write a Great Speech — Stump U" walked them through how to write a speech introducing themselves to the political world through examples of speeches from the beginning of the country's democracy to present. Warden is an award winning communications strategist and marketing executive. The group later toured N.C. State’s College of Textiles on their Centennial Campus.
On Tuesday morning, students visited UNC's campus, and had the privilege of listening to a speech by Tai Huynh, a Morehead Cain scholar who graduated from the Institute of Public Trust and is a current student at UNC. Huynh discussed his defeat of a ten year incumbent by 24 votes for a seat in the Chapel Hill Town Council, as well as building his own small business. Not only is Huynh the youngest council member, he is also the first Korean American to ever be elected into office in the state of North Carolina. The message of his inspirational speech was that you are never too young to go after your goals and pursue the ''supposed'' impossible.
While at UNC, the group also observed a lecture by Leonard Goenaga, founder of The Bard Company Raleigh, on "Social Media and Campaigns" discussing the importance of telling a story with branding and how to approach the challenge. His speech involved a whirlwind of personality and intrigue and demonstrated that a lot can be learned by Googling how to do things on the internet while sitting in pajamas.
Later that morning, the group was led in a tour at UNC by Anders Pokela ‘16, Mats Pokela ‘18, and Olivia Bettis, ’19.