Patriotism and Leadership at the U.S. Air Force Academy

What is the Frances Hesselbein Student Leadership Program?

The program was named for Mrs. Frances Hesselbein, in recognition of her dedication to the development of children and youth. Mrs. Hesselbein is the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Leader to Leader Institute and the former CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian honor, in 1998. Students nationwide applied to attend the one-week training program offered at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. For the students selected, our travel and tuition was fully covered.
A few of the program objectives are team building, character and leadership development, and community involvement. How were these ideas addressed?

Each exercise or challenge required a leader and the group's support. We learned about effective leadership from the cadets at the academy and did several activities that incorporated each lesson. We did a bonding ropes course that taught us how to work as a team and we also got to visit a local high school and spend time with their Student to Student program. My favorite part was getting to do the “escape room” at the end of the trip, because we got to incorporate all the things we learned throughout the week. I learned about the four most effective and important qualities of a great leader and how to implement them in the Student to Student program at POLAHS.

Some notable speakers from the Frances Hesselbein Leadership program included Frances Hesselbein herself, General Lloyd J. Austin (U.S. Army, Retired), Colonel Diane Ryan, and all of the West Point staff. Each speaker shared important ideas, life lessons, and philosophies about leadership and teamwork.
What is it like to grow up in a military family? What has it taught you?

Growing up in a military family has been an experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world. It has taught me how to be resilient and caring. Because I’ve moved so many times and have had to make so many new friends, I’ve learned that sometimes there are people that need a friend more than anything. It has taught me to be a friend to everyone because I know what that’s like.
How did you learn about the Leadership Program opportunity?
I heard about the Program through the Student to Student club at POLAHS. I had to submit an online application that included an essay and my resume. After that I was selected for a phone interview. I’m the second POLAHS student to attend; senior Aaron Ferralles participated two years ago!
Tell us about your high school activities!
I am on the Varsity Cheer team and have been since my freshman year. I am also the President of the Student to Student club at POLAHS. I have an overall GPA of 3.7 and I regularly volunteer at the Veteran’s Association Hospital in Long Beach. My favorite class is Physics with Mr. Dukes. I was also just selected for a competitive summer Engineering internship at Boeing! After graduating I plan to either become a physical therapist or work in the global security and intelligence field.
Sarah, thank you for sharing. Congratulations on being selected for this distinct honor and for representing POLAHS at the Air Force Academy!