August 5, 2016 at 10:15am
Dane Lisser

Emerging Leaders

The newest cohort of first-year Long-Vanderburg (LV) Scholars at Millikin University recently took part in a five-day leadership academy that focused on academics, leadership and commitment to social justice and service.

The leadership academy, held July 27-31, is named for the first two African-American graduates of Millikin University, Fred Long (1918) and Marian Vanderburg McCants (1934).

Long-Vanderburg Scholars

Throughout the academy, 12 LV scholars from various parts of the country worked collaboratively on projects that enhanced their academic and personal growth. The scholars also met some of the local area's dedicated and outgoing community leaders and Millikin staff members.

"The academy is about having the students find themselves academically and socially on a leadership level," said Tonya Hines, coordinator for inclusion at Millikin University. "We focus on issues of identity, social justice, diversity and inclusion. It will be easier for these students to transition into positions of leadership because they are honors students."

Long-Vanderburg Scholars

Throughout the week, students participated in a Rocks Springs Leadership Adventure and traveled to the Caterpillar Visitors Center in Peoria, Ill. The students also engaged in classroom workshops led by Dr. Ngozi Onuora, Millikin assistant professor of education.

"The students are open to learning and are curious about what is going on in the world," Hines says. "The students also had in-depth conversations about privilege, social justice, human rights and identity. Leadership starts with being open to learn."

Long-Vanderburg Scholars

The first-year students also worked with four academy mentors and current Millikin students Phil Ganley, a senior sociology major from Decatur, Ill.; Timothee McElroy, a senior physical education secondary teaching major from Mt. Zion, Ill.; Joshua Miller, a junior theatre major from Flossmoor, Ill., and Kyle Brown, a junior human services major from St. Louis, Mo.

"As a mentor I'm trying to be a support system and a mediator," Joshua Miller says. "It was a great experience and the students were great to work with; they are very energetic and positive."

Long-Vanderburg Scholars

In terms of the importance of the academy, Miller noted, "The reason this is important is because it gives the students an opportunity to start educating themselves, and it also makes them look at themselves as a magnifying glass when learning about society." 

The academy concluded with a speaking engagement featuring Dr. Priscilla Palmer, testing specialist at Richland Community College, and an interactive table talk on social justice conducted by the scholars.

Hines noted, "This experience gives the students a lens of acceptance from one another. With these meaningful experiences, it's amazing to see where students start and where they end in four years."

Long-Vanderburg Scholars

The Long-Vanderburg Scholars Program is an honors program that provides historically underrepresented students, and those interested in social justice and commitment to diversity and inclusion, the opportunity to uphold and contribute to the legacy of academic excellence, leadership and service at Millikin University through curricular and co-curricular activities.

For more information on Millikin's Long-Vanderburg Scholars Program, please visit