Overland Park, Olathe students among elite student leaders

08/11/2014 12:24 PM

08/11/2014 12:25 PM

For a few Johnson County high school seniors and recent graduates, this summer proved to be the perfect time to brush up on their leadership skills.

Callie Van Winkle, Kori Hines and Sara Carroll of Olathe; Carly Meacham of Overland Park, and Derrick Parker of Kansas City were the only five students from the Kansas City area out of more than 220 juniors and seniors nationwide selected for the 2014 Bank of America Student Leaders program.

As participants in the program, each of the five students received an eight-week paid internship with the Youth Volunteer Corps of Greater Kansas City. They also earned a week-long trip to Washington, D.C. last month for the Bank of America Student Leadership Summit where they had a chance to participate in a variety of leadership activities.

“We got to meet with more than 200 students leaders from around the nation, meet with congressmen, hear from speakers and attend workshops,” Callie Van Winkle said. “We also did some touring and learned about the history of our nation.”

Van Winkle will be a senior this year at Olathe South High School and has been active in her school, serving as the president of her school service club. During her eight-week internship, she helped lead service projects every week with about 10 other young people.

“One of the big things I learned was how to communicate better,” Van Winkle said. “Everyone communicates differently and I learned new ways to do this.”

Seventeen-year-old Kori Hines also will be a senior this year at Olathe South. During her internship with the youth volunteer corps, Hines had several opportunities to help lead other young people while working on projects involving a community garden.

“Several times I was put in a leadership role and I learned just how far I could take my leadership skills,” Hines said. “I really had to step up.”

Sophie Carroll, a recent graduate of Olathe North High School, hopes to build on the leadership skills she honed at her internship when she begins college this fall at Wichita State University. Carroll plans to study entrepreneurship and accounting, with plans to one day own her own bakery.

By working so closely with various nonprofit groups during her internship, Carroll determined that she would like to continue volunteering and performing community service in the future. It also helped her learn some important lessons.

“I definitely took away how to manage youth and how to be flexible,” Carroll said. “I worked with a different group of young people every week so I had to learn to be a leader, but also a friend and role model. I think I really evolved as a leader.”

Carly Meacham just graduated from Blue Valley North High School where she served as an officer in her school’s Future Business Leaders of America club. Her internship and trip to the leadership summit came shortly before she heads to the University of Notre Dame to begin college.

During her internship, Meacham frequently served as a leader for young people ages 11-18 who were also volunteering at the youth volunteer corps. This gave her the opportunity to focus on each volunteer’s strengths and to place them in the role that best fit those strengths. She’s certain she will be able to apply the skills she learned by working with such a diverse group of people in anything she chooses to do in the future.

“I plan to use these skills in the workplace and every single social situation I’m in,” Meacham said. “I understand that people are coming from different backgrounds and I’m able to apply their strengths where they are most effective.”

Derrick Parker recently graduated from Lincoln College Preparatory Academy in Kansas City where he served as senior class president. Parker is now heading to Morehouse College in Atlanta. He says he feels fortunate to have spent his summer as an intern.

“I wanted to learn about nonprofits and this internship taught me some valuable life lessons that can be used forever,” Parker said. “It wasn’t an ordinary internship.”

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