From February 24th to the 26th, the students in the Harris-Stanford Honors Program ventured to North Carolina to partake in leadership and civic seminars at some of the south's most prestigious universities: Duke University, the University of North Carolina, and North Carolina State University.
After making the drive from Chattanooga on Sunday and getting settled in, the 20 Baylor students kicked off the trip on Monday by listening to insightful speakers on Duke's campus. The first speaker, Mac McCorkle, eloquently described the origin of our nation through the lens of the Constitution, and inquired how the past influences the present, especially in politics, in his speech titled "Thinking Anew About the U.S. Constitution Past, Present, and Future." Immediately following, students had the pleasure to hear Dan Hill describe his experience in public office and give advice for students thinking about running, in his speech, "Why I Ran For Public Office." Students asked thoughtful questions and learned intuitive tips on how to be a politician. While pondering the notions presented in these speeches, the students and faculty members toured Duke's beautiful campus and ate lunch in the new West Union Dining facility.
After lunch, the group drove to NC State to tour the campus with Park Scholar and Baylor Alum Hayley Harwood '18. She and another NC State student showed Baylor students the centennial campus where they got to see the dormant nuclear reactor, dorms, D.H. Hill Library, and hear about the Park Scholarship program. After seeing the campus, two more seminars ensued, beginning with an intriguing and slightly unsettling speech given by Neil Kammerman. He discussed how technology can be useful and harmful in political campaigns and the world alike, and students learned how effective certain types of ads are for certain audiences in "Social Media in Campaigns." Franklin Hill had thoughtful discussion and debate with students about how to discuss topical issues with grace and the efficient rhetoric of politicians today.
On Tuesday, Alex Oprea engaged with students regarding philosophy of policies in the past, and what qualities truly make up a leader in her wonderful speech "Philosophy Behind U.S. Democratic Republic." Proceeding, the students were given a real treat when Howard Lee told the story of his experience in being the first African-American Mayor of Chapel Hill. He recounted his experiences with the campaign, the Army, the people who disagreed with him, and the society in the South during that time with his seminar titled "Living History." To conclude the trip, the group toured UNC led by Baylor Alumnus, Mats Pokela '18, who added a true college vibe and allowed students to really picture themselves attending UNC.
This trip allowed respectful discussion, food for thought, and new friendships. I know that the students who participated thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I am thankful I was able to meet the amazing people who spoke and the students who took time out of their days to be our tour guides. And of course none of it would be possible without the generosity of Baylor.