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Penn State Presidential Leadership Academy (PLA)

Applying to be a member of the Penn State Presidential Leadership Academy was easily one of the best choices I made during my undergraduate years.

As a member of the academy,  I was blessed with the privilege of travel, conversation, and friendships that have truly changed my life for the better. Below, you can find more information about the important components of my membership in the PLA.

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Our PLA Class as Sophomores on the Spring Field Trip to Seattle, WA. (March 2017)

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Reilly, Christina and Olivia on the Fall Field Trip to New York City. (October 2016)

Penn State Millennium Scholar members of the PLA on the Spring Trip to Seattle, WA. (March 2017)

Coursework and Outcomes

Sophomore Year: During the 2016-17 academic year, my class took a course with the Dean of the Schreyer Honors College in which we discussed leadership styles and principles in a grey world of decision making. This culminated in writing a policy paper on the Financial Implications of the College Student Mental Health Crisis, which can be found here.


In the following semester, we took a course with Penn State President, Dr. Eric Barron, in which we explored the challenges that he faces in decision making regarding controversial and pressing issues.

Senior Year: During the 2018-19 academic year, we read two books covering the leadership styles and presidency histories of Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. 


Blogging throughout my time in the PLA was crucial to my development and growth. I even blogged while I explored research at the University of Washington, while benefiting from a PLA Grant Award during Summer 2018.

All of my blogs can be found here.

Field Trips

New York City- Fall 2016

Seattle​- Spring 2017  see right

Washington D.C.- Fall 2017

Pittsburgh- Spring 2018

Los Angeles- Spring 2019

Gettysburg- Spring 2019

Final Reflection

  • Prompt- As you reflect on your time in the PLA, how have you grown and how has the academy impacted you personally?​​

    • My time with the Presidential Leadership Academy at Penn State has been transformative and life-changing. I’m not sure what other words have the power to capture the experiences and opportunities that, without Ed and Helen Hintz, wouldn’t have been possible for me. Personally, I thank my Theta PLA class members for being some of the best friends I’ve made at Penn State and helping make this experience so unique and enjoyable. The program impacted me tremendously 

    • I am so proud that this experience has empowered me to be more open-minded and understanding of people across the aisle or with varying beliefs. I have grown into a more open-minded listener and gained the skill set necessary to make decisions in the grey area.

  • Prompt- How would you describe your leadership style? Is it the same concept of your leadership style when you applied and if not, how has your leadership style changed?

    • My leadership style is was straight-forward and slightly autocratic as a freshman. I led and acted with a purpose, and became frustrated when people didn't agree with my plans. I don't think I was very democratic in my plans and goals in organizations. My motto was to get things done. 

    • I feel that my style has changed to be much more open and aware of the experiences of the people that I lead, and the people around me in general. I'm become more cognizant of how my actions and behaviors affect others. I've learned when it's time to slow down, stop and listen instead of always being the first to speak up and voice my opinion. 

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