By Camille Birdsong
Hampton, VA.- Hampton University’s William R. Harvey Leadership Institute held its 23rd Annual High School Virtual Leadership Summit from July 13 to July 17. This year’s theme was entitled, “Service and Character.” All the students were split into teams and tasked with creating a community service project which they presented to their family, friends, and a panel of judges.
Organized by Dr. Jarris Louis Taylor, Jr., Director of the Leadership Institute, the first-ever virtual summit provided rising high school juniors and seniors with the opportunity to listen and engage with leaders who share advice, encouragement, and life experiences.
“The 23 ‘A-listers’ were phenomenal with their presentations and the students participated and ask thought-provoking analytical questions,” said Dr. Taylor. “This is our 23rd year and I was not going to let the coronavirus, COVID-19 negatively impact a necessity for life-leadership.”
This year, students learned from powerful speakers such as Mario Armstrong of the “Never Settle Show,” Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of the “1619 Project,” Honorable James B. Comey, former director of the FBI, and award-winning actress Morgan McCoy. There was also Donnie Tuck, mayor of Hampton, Virginia, Kamala Lopez, filmmaker of Equal Means Equal, & Ursula Carrascal-Vizarreta, Director of the Cultural Association Minaq Ecodanza from Lima, Peru.
“My favorite part was definitely speaking with James Comey hands down,” said Carlyle Fulton, a rising senior from North Carolina.
Not only did the students engage with the speakers and feel empowered by the lessons of Black history, but they were also able to connect with counselors as well. Each group was assigned two or three counselors and collectively established a team name. The counselors guided the students for their projects and encouraged them throughout the week, serving as a support system throughout their time at the summit.
“I enjoyed being a counselor because I had the opportunity to establish a family-like bond with my team; it’s an unforgettable moment,” stated Mycah Turner, a counselor for the Dr3am Team. “I was impressed with how the students were willing to try to open up and still have a good time given the circumstances of COVID-19.”
Because of the surplus of benefits the summit provides, students are drawn to the program and eager to attend each year. The students raved about their anticipation for the summit, excitement for access to early admission into Hampton University, and the opportunity to be around like-minded people committed to success.
“Definitely whether it’s in person or virtual, it was still a good experience,” Fulton said. “You get to learn about different types of leaders and the ins and outs of Hampton University from a new lens.”
“I am proud of the future leaders of our beloved nation as they remained engaged and committed throughout the Summit and during Team Activities with the Leadership Fellows,” Dr. Taylor stated. “I am extremely proud of the positive feedback from the students, and parents congratulating the team for a well-executed summit and the diversity of the speakers.”