The President’s Leadership Academy (PLA) 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 

PLA is a selective learning experience for up to 20 of Southeast’s most outstanding upper-level student leaders.  

Participants have the opportunity to use their leadership skills to make a difference within their campus community. The PLA class will learn about campus priorities and objectives for the academic year to pitch a detailed proposal for the Southeast Success ProjectThis group projectallows 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, select University faculty/staff and community leaders are brought in to deliver leadership content and lessons learned from their leadership journeys. 

Application Process 

To be nominated for the PLA, a student must be nominated by faculty or staff members or student peers during the nomination period late in the spring semester. Each student who is nominated is sent more information, including application procedures. 

To be considered for the President's Leadership Academy, a nominee must, at time of nomination: 

  • Be in at least his/her second year of college (preference is given to students with at least two semesters left to complete their undergraduate degree) 
  • Be an active leader in at least one student organization, team, or community group 
  • Be in good judicial standing 
  • Have a cumulative 2.75 GPA or higher 

Learner Outcomes 

Participants will: 

  •  Learn, understand, and value their personal leadership style and the styles of others 
  • Increase awareness of 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. 

Southeast Success Project 

TheSoutheast 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: 

  • Implementing the Diversity Education Task Force recommendations 
  • Increasing the first-time, full-time student retention rate to 80% and the five-year graduation rate to 60% 

Southeast Success Projects could include anything that would benefit the campus community and align 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. CampRedhawk, 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? Manpower, 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

  • 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 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: an 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 , a huge trash heap to show just a percentage of our daily waste, removing trays from the UC for a day, and more. 
2019 PLA Class Major Hometown
Rutradarshini Asokan  Biology: Biomedical Sciences  Seremban, Malaysia 
Alexander Bargen   Mass Communication: Advertising  Moscow Mills, MO 
Andrew Behrmann  Biology: Biomedical Sciences  Belleville, IL 
Erika Bone  Political Science  Jacksonville, IL 
Taylor Ceissell  Health Management: Exercise Science  Saint Mary, MO 
Alexis Dilg  Communications Multimedia: Computer Multimedia Graphics  Yorkville, IL 
Gretchen Hanlin  Early Childhood Education  East Prairie, MO 
Kate Herrmann  Communication Studies  Saint Louis, MO 
Justin Jacobs  Accounting  Barnhart, MO 
Morgan Kaplan   Global Cultures and Languages: Foreign Language  Hawthorn Woods, IL 
Maja Lundell  Biology: Microbiology, Cellular and Molecular Biology, & Biotechnology  Stockholm, Sweden 
Andrew Marler  Agribusiness: Ag Systems Management  Imperial, MO 
Akilah Murphy  Computer Science  Saint Louis, MO 
Johanna Oster  Management  Fenton, MO 
Kaitlyn Ried  Agribusiness: Animal Science  Hernando, MS 
Madison Straatmann  Exceptional Child/Moderate Cross Categorical  Washington, MO 
Sabina Tapscott  Business Administration  Springfield, IL 
Bryan Turney  Social Science  Tamaroa, IL 
Clayton Vassalli  Economics: Business Economics  Hillsboro, MO 
Caleb While  Biology: Biomedical Sciences  Decatur, IL 
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