Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Gwinnett Student Leadership Team: A Community of Leaders

Each year, the Gwinnett Student Leadership Team, Inc. (GSLT, Inc.) graduates approximately 60 students into the community. While the student leaders are in school, they enhance and develop the function of leadership throughout their school in various roles spreading their knowledge and skills. Upon entering the real world, they go on to achieve great things.

One of many GSLT success stories is that of Captain Daniel Hwang who graduated with honors from South Gwinnett High School in 2002. Captain Hwang, who participated in GSLT from 2000-2002, went on to graduate in the top 3 percent of his class from the United States Military Academy at West Point. His rigorous work at West Point and in the military eventually landed him a promotion in January 2009 to captain for Charlie Company while serving in Samarra, Iraq.

Captain Hwang’s story goes beyond his high accolades with an act of kindness that reflects deep principles and strong leadership skills. While in Iraq, the U.S. Commander in Samarra requested commissioned officers to restore essential services. Captain Hwang chose education.

With deep ties to Gwinnett, Captain Hwang reached out to his home community for help in providing learning materials for 25,000 children. Gwinnett County Public Schools and Buford City schools responded to his challenge by collecting materials to fill 520 boxes which are now ready for shipment to Iraq.

GSLT Executive Director Nancy Ward said that Captain Hwang has inspired the students and adults alike who are involved in GSLT. Ward reported Captain Hwang specially arranged his annual leave from the military so that he would be in Gwinnett during GSLT’s Fall Retreat to speak to the current class. Ward said that Captain Hwang told students at the Retreat that he traces his success back to Gwinnett and GSLT. He left the students with a special message to explore the world, but to come back to Gwinnett, which is where he plans to return one day.

GSLT, with graduates including Captain Hwang and many other like him, began by chance or by fate when Nancy Ward, Gwinnett County Public Schools, and David Seago, Georgia Power, were seated next to each other in their first class of Leadership Gwinnett in 1993. During the program, they both discussed the fact that there was a leadership program for every community member with the exception of students. After they graduated from Leadership Gwinnett in 1994, Ward contacted Seago and said, “Let’s begin a class for students.” From there, GSLT was born.

The Gwinnett Student Leadership Team, Inc. (GSLT) is a two-year student leadership program that provides a learning experience for high school juniors and seniors in Gwinnett County Public Schools and Buford City Schools. The program is sponsored by the Gwinnett County Public School System and Buford City Schools in conjunction with other community agencies, institutions, and businesses. GSLT, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt initiative, is under the direction of a ten-member Board of Directors: David Seago, President, of Georgia Power Company; John Upchurch, Vice-President, of Scholastic Images/Balfour; Randy Dellinger, Treasurer, of Jackson EMC; Nancy Ward, Executive Director, of Gwinnett County Public Schools; Peter Boyce, Attorney-at-Law; Thomas Boyce, Innovative Outdoors; Renee Byrd-Lewis, Cisco; Dr. John Green, Gwinnett County Public Schools; Gail Macrenaris, Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce; and Dale Robbins; Gwinnett County Public Schools.

“GSLT provides an opportunity for students to develop personal and organizational leadership skills and an awareness of issues facing the community in which they live,” said Ward.

“The success of the program is truly measured by the success of the students upon entering the real world,” said Ward. “Their accomplishments say it all.”

Although GSLT began in 1995, the program is just now beginning to see dividends. “Many of the students who went through the programs in the early 90’s are just now getting settled into the workplace after completing post-graduate and medical degrees,” said Ward. “The payoff we are seeing is truly amazing. You can find GSLT graduates all over the country and the world. They are running businesses, producing award-winning films and operating non-profits in third world countries.”

From the fall of 1995 to June of 2009, 13 GSLT classes have completed the two-year leadership development experience with 379 graduates. During 2005-2009, over 18,000+ students participated in 700+ leadership development sessions designed and led by GSLT students and high school principals.

“Our hope is that students go back to their schools and communities to spread their knowledge and skills. The numbers show that this is occurring and that it is paying off in so many different ways,” said Ward.

Whether producing films, serving our country, attending acclaimed universities, starting businesses, or leading communities, GSLT graduates are leading the way and achieving greatness in Gwinnett County and beyond.

For more information on how you can support and get involved with the Gwinnett Student Leadership Team, contact Gail Macrenaris, Director of Leadership and Education, Gwinnett Chamber at 770-232-8803 or gail@gwinnettchamber.org.

1 comment:

  1. I just got in and loving it already!

    ReplyDelete