By Lilli Hime
What does Hilltop Leaders do?
For the sixteen sophomores chosen for this prestigious program, Hilltop Leaders takes them on a yearlong journey of self-discovery in which they develop a strong understanding of their values, their leadership styles, and how they can implement them to create positive change in their communities. This includes weekly interactive sessions with guest speakers, a service component, an exclusive tour of the Texas State Capitol, and a five-day educational trip to Chicago.
“Here at St. Ed’s,” current member Kia Baeza said, “we try to put an emphasis on being your most authentic self, and that obviously comes first from students. Hilltop Leaders is doing a great job at making students who are really going to uphold the school’s mission even after they graduate.”
The series of guest speakers maintain diversity across occupation, race, age, career field, interests, and personalities to expose students to the bevy of ways success manifests itself as well. The diversity also allows students a better chance at connecting with someone who is in a field they are interested in and who can offer professional advice or a connection.
Through weekly reflection and discussion, members define their personal values and practice communication skills with others of different values or communication styles. This serves these leaders by preparing them to use them not only in future leadership or career opportunities but in everyday life decisions.
What do you get out of participating in Hilltop Leaders?
“You get out what you put into it, and if you put in the idea of ‘I’m going to let this program change my life,’ then it’s going to do that,” Baeza said.
The program achieves a balance between allowing members personal development and professional development. The former includes a deepening understanding of personal values and leadership and communication styles while the latter is achieved through resume building, networking opportunities, and guest speakers in fields students are interested in.
“I definitely learned a lot about myself,” alumna Brandon Paz said, “which in turn goes hand in hand with learning about leadership because learning about leadership is a lot about learning how you work with others and vice versa.”
That’s not to mention the weekend retreat, tour of the capitol, and week-long trip to Chicago.
What does Hilltop Leaders contribute to the St. Edward’s community?
Though the program is on an application basis, and only sixteen sophomores are chosen, those sixteen will move forward to affect the campus in strides.
“It definitely turns out leaders across campus,” Paz said, listing the variety of different positions HL alumni were taking across campus. “It helps develop the leaders that we need to get this campus working as one and as well as it can.”
“The impact (that members) have on the St. Edward’s community,” current co-director Phoebe Billings said, “is just being a role model for other leaders because they have such a good sense of self now and they know a lot more about their own leadership style that they didn’t know before. I think that’s something they demonstrate in their daily life.”
How can students get involved?