Global Leaders Summer Session

August 3, 2018


Next week the Global Leaders Program at Illinois Institute of Technology will be ending their summer session. The Global Leaders Program creates access and opportunity for Chicago-area high school students in STEM fields by offering four weeks of collaborative, project-based programming each summer, the implementation of a Community Innovation Project of their own design during their junior year, step-by-step college advising and guidance during their senior year and workshops, field trips, and career development opportunities.

Each summer the program creates a theme and hold workshops around that theme, this summer the chosen theme was Design to Overcome. To help lead these workshops and facilitate the summer, Illinois Campus Compact placed five Summer VISTAs at IIT. These VISTAs are all college students and four out of the five are alumni of the Global Leaders program.

Fiona Kalensky and Stacy Lam, engineering students, were in charge of developing the curriculum. Fiona and Stacy used their knowledge to plan and facilitate workshops for the students – all in the area of Design to Overcome.  The first workshop was a solar oven challenge, set up like the hunger games. The Global Leaders students had to use random objects to create an oven with enough solar energy to melt chocolate. They were then judged on efficiency, sustainability, and how visually pleasing the oven was.

The next workshop was based on biomimicry, the students had to create wind turbines that worked better or as well as humpback whale fins. During the last workshop, the student created wearable circuits, you can see an example of this is in the photo below.

Fiona said that her favorite part about the summer was working with the students and seeing them get excited about the work they were doing. When students were unable to finish the wearable circuits during the day, they asked if they were able to take the materials home so they could finish their projects. The next day they came with finished circuits – wearable on shoes and pockets. The students were excited to show Fiona and Stacy what they were able to create.

At the celebration of the end of the summer I spoke to a couple students and asked what they enjoyed most about the GLP summer session. The students were eager to show me some of their projects, and stated that these projects were their favorite part of the summer. One student told me that it was great to learn outside of the classroom. They were excited to build something that worked, something that they could actually see the science behind instead of reading chapters in a book.

Nathan Bahadursingh and Vincent Zarate were program instructors this summer. This meant that they led a cluster of ten to twelve juniors and seniors. They made sure that the workshops and events ran smoothly and facilitated sessions like college access. The Global Leaders Program makes sure the rising high school seniors are familiar with college settings. Nathan and Vincent also help the students become college ready by working with them on their personal statements for college applications.

Nathan and Vincent, both alumni of the program, are using their skills they learned at college to create a documentary. Their using their love of film to show how amazing the Global Leaders Program is, and the positive effects it has. Both Nathan and Vincent said that it was great to combine their skills and love for GLP to create a final project.

The fifth summer VISTA was Scarlett O’Hara. Scarlett was the Communications Summer VISTA. She updated the Global Leaders website, including the biographies of each summer VISTA. Her responsibilities included responding to and sending emails, writing the weekly newsletters, and taking photos of all the summer events. As a journalism major, Scarlett loved the ability to gain experience in her field while sharing information about the program she participated in and loved.

Besides these responsibilities, Scarlett also presented a workshop to the students. The workshop’s topic was “Life Skills,” and focused on the power of looking back.

I am sure the student’s excelled at this workshop because when I asked them their favorite part of the summer, their answers were eloquent as if they had already looked back thoughtfully on the summer.

One student said that they loved being able to meet peers from around Chicago that they would have never met another way. A group of girls that I spoke to explained another novelty of the program. The program offers specialized education and information that they would maybe not receive at their schools. The programs focuses on STEM, and preparing students for college, something that the students said they are already grateful for.