Take the Lead! Mount Holyoke College Launches New Teen Leadership Program This Fall

For immediate release
August 11, 2000



33 Students to Gather at the Nation's Oldest Institution of Higher Education for
Women for First Teen Leadership Summit, Oct. 12-Oct. 15

SOUTH HADLEY, Massachusetts--Widely recognized for educating generations of women leaders, Mount Holyoke College will launch a new leadership summit for high school juniors this fall. Called "take the lead!," the summit will bring 33 promising young women to the nation's oldest institution of higher education for women during the height of the New England fall foliage season for an extended weekend of workshops and activities that focus on building leadership skills.

The highly competitive program received more than 650 nominations and 300 applicants. Community leaders, teachers, and guidance counselors nominated high school sophomores, who then submitted applications. During May, a College committee selected a diverse group of smart, idealistic, action-oriented teens who seek to make a positive difference in the world. Participants were chosen on the basis of their potential for leadership, as demonstrated by their academic, extracurricular, and community involvement, as well as their insight and motivation.

Ready, Set . . . Action Project!
Tapping into teenagers' desire to make a difference on such issues as homelessness, environmentalism, and poverty, take the lead! will focus on helping each participant develop an action project to address a social issue of her choice. Workshops and exercises, ranging from negotiating to publicity and fundraising, are designed to give students the skills they need to make their project a reality. The elite women's college will award $500 prizes to three completed action projects.

Mentoring, a hot topic in today's success literature, will play a key role in the summit this October. Each student will be paired with a Mount Holyoke College student-mentor who has received training from the College's Weissman Center for Leadership. Take-the-lead! teens will be greeted by their mentors and stay with them over the long weekend. Working one-on-one, the pair will stay in touch via email for the duration of the action project, which may last as long as six months to a year.

Identity and Community: Partners in Today's Leadership Skills
Tomorrow's leaders will guide a diverse American society. Recognizing this, the Mount Holyoke leadership summit will emphasize the importance of identity and community in the cultivation of leadership. Take-the-lead! participants will experience workshops that tackle diversity issues and meet with Beverly Daniel Tatum, a noted expert on race relations. Tatum, dean of the college at Mount Holyoke, will be a featured speaker at the summit. She has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss teen identity and race issues and is the author of the celebrated book "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" And Other Conversations About Race. Tatum was a panel member of President Clinton's town hall meeting on race and published an op-ed about college students and race in The New York Times this July.

Leadership: A Long and Proud Tradition at Mount Holyoke
Founded in 1837 by educational pioneer Mary Lyon, Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report. Enjoying record-breaking admissions numbers, the College has launched generations of women leaders, including Frances Perkins, the first woman member of a president's cabinet. Mount Holyoke's Weissman Center for Leadership, created three years ago through the College's strategic planning process, focuses the dynamic campus on citizenship issues such as education and the environment. The center has brought national leaders such as children's advocate Jonathon Kozol and EPA head Carol Browner to campus. This summer, the College took the national stage with its initiative to make the SAT test optional for admissions, a move that was lauded by an editorial in The New York Times on July 10. Take the lead! continues the institution's proud tradition of leadership.