President's Leadership Academy

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” —Mark Twain

Application Process

To apply for President's Leadership Academy (PLA), a student must be nominated by a faculty/staff member or student peers, or you can submit your own name if you are interested in the program. Each student that is nominated will be sent more information including application procedures. The Fall 2018 PLA class has already been selected and confirmed (see chart below). The call for Fall 2019 PLA nominations will be announced in the Spring semester.

For more information, please e-mail or call (573) 651-2280.

To be considered for the Presidents Leadership Academy a nominee must at time of nomination:

  1. Be in at least his/her second year of college;
  2. Be an active member in at least one student organization or community group;
  3. Be in good judicial standing; and
  4. Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75.  


The President’s Leadership Academy provides a professional learning experience for action-oriented students who have demonstrated a desire and commitment to improving their community and leading with integrity.

About the Academy

The President’s Leadership Academy (PLA) is a selective learning experience for 15-20 of Southeast’s most outstanding upper-class student leaders.

Participants get the opportunity to use their leadership skills to make a difference within their campus community. The  PLA class will learn about major campus priorities and objectives in this academic year in order to propose, refine, and bring to fruition a Southeast Success Project, a group project allowing student leaders to work as a team to achieve a meaningful and sustainable influence on these goals.

Furthermore, as the top tier of the Southeast Leadership Programs, University faculty & staff leaders are brought in to deliver leadership content and lessons learned from their own leadership journeys.

Learner Outcomes

Participants will…

  • learn, understand and value their personal leadership style and the styles of others.
  • increase their awareness of the University’s goals and the complexities involved in meeting these goals at Southeast and throughout postsecondary education.
  • understand how to apply leadership competencies to enhance their competitiveness for employment as early career professionals.
  • become responsible leaders within their respective university communities.




Clint Ashner

General Studies

Owensville, MO

Katie Bunselmeyer


Ava, IL

Sonali Chilupuri

Computer Science

Cape Girardeau, MO

Dominick Gillette

Corporate Communication

Saint Ann, MO

Elizabeth Hilburn

Healthcare Administration

Daytona Beach, FL

Anna Huskey

Exceptional Child/Elementary Education

Perryville, MO

Zachary Kalmer


Albers, IL

Nate Kaptena

Mass Communications: Advertising

Cary, IL

Sara Korobey


St. Louis, MO

Zoey Logan

Communication Studies

Saint Robert, MO

Hailee Long

Marketing Management

Lee's Summit, MO

Alyssa Miller


O'Fallon, IL

Avradita Mukherjee



Razan Roumany

Biology: Pre-Physician Assistant

Cape Girardeau, MO

Neha Tahir


Sikeston, MO

Roshell Tauro

Biomedical Sciences


Michelle Van Zandt

Health Communication

Du Quoin, IL

Daniel Wallace


St. Louis, MO

Trent Waltz


Cape Girardeau, MO

Kseniya Zonova



2016 PLA Class
2015 PLA Class

PLA - Southeast Success Project

The Southeast Success Project is the capstone and most exciting portion of the course. Students will form groups to develop a project proposal to present to President Vargas with the objective of meeting one of the following institutional priorities:

  1. Implementing the Diversity Education Task Force Recommendations
  2. Increasing the First-Time, Full-Time Student Retention Rate to 80% and the 5-year Graduation Rate to 60%

Southeast Success Projects could include anything that would benefit the campus community and aligns with the institutional priorities listed above. A few examples that fit within each category are: advising, mentorship, feedback, financial support, and interdisciplinary approaches. You may choose to propose a project that helps Southeast students engage with their community (i.e. Camp Redhawk, Student Involvement Ambassadors, Transitions Academy) or improves student learning through co-curricular activities (i.e. PLA, learning communities) or supports students financially (i.e. on-campus employment, student emergency fund). Once approved, Southeast Success Projects will be assigned a mentor, who will guide the group through their planning and implementation process.

When deciding on a project to propose, consider the following:

  • Is there a true need for the project?
  • What are the benefits to those involved?
  • What solutions can you offer to help your chosen population or cause?
  • Will this project be able to be planned and executed within the Fall semester?
  • What resources are needed? Man power, money, buy-in from fellow students or faculty?
  • Is there research or evidence that offers solutions or previous experiences with your project?
  • Will you need additional support to complete the project besides your fellow PLA students, your instructor, and/or assigned mentor?

Past Projects Include:

  • Southeast Cares: a project designed to increase student awareness of issues surrounding mental health. A mental health fair was organized to accomplish this in which vendors from various mental health-related organizations, such as counseling practices and student wellness organizations, gathered to present on topics in which they were informed. Students were invited to interact with the vendors for the duration of the fair and were then asked to fill out a brief survey, which consisted of demographic information as well as their opinion about the efficacy of the project. The topics that were discussed in the Southeast Cares Mental Health Awareness event included depression and anxiety, sexual violence, stress and coping, body positivity, and LGBTQ+, among others.
  • Show Me Shadowing: a idea for an on-going program that would connect students with employers for a shadowing experience that influences their college experience in a way that will directly impact the value of their degree. The project implemented during the PLA semester allowed students in the themed learning communities to experience their field without the commitment of an internship or career choice by traveling to the job site to job shadow.
  • Hawk Talk: a project idea intended to connect students to SEMO’s events and organizations by bringing awareness and informing students via short podcasts. The goal of this project was to encourage student engagement on campus and with the Southeast community, allowing the student body to feel more connected after being informed about events. Connections made thanks to Hawk Talk's podcasts could help graduation, transfer, and retention rates.
  • Elect to Go Green: PLA students created a week of activities to help the environment and convince students to “go green”. Activities/events included recycle basketball (with prizes!), a huge trash heap to show just a percentage of our daily waste, removing trays from the UC for a day and more.


University Center 414

One University Plaza, MS1250
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701