Wilson Leadership Fellows Highlights

President Stimpert talking with students in the football stadium stands

Fellows in year one focus on emotional intelligence and being a good teammate. This fall, first-year fellows participated in the pre-term workshop, heard from President Stimpert, learned about presence and moving audiences from the American Shakespeare Company, spent time with student government executive officers, learned about the facets of emotional intelligence, took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test.

Fellows in year two, termed the Society of ’91 (named in honor of eight inspiring members of the Hampden-Sydney Class of 1791), focus on developing their understanding of servant leadership. This semester, second-year fellows heard from Bert Bateman ’80, participated in small group discussions about positive political leadership and ethics in public life, heard from President Stimpert, and went on an overnight camping trip to Holiday Lake.

Students gathered doing a low ropes course activity outside

Fellows in year three focus on preparing for life after College. They are paired with alumni mentors and are asked to consider not just what they want to be after graduation but also who they want to be. We endeavor to align their values and actions. This year’s third-year Fellows heard from Brandon Randall ’04 about being a good mentor and mentee, spent time with Ferguson Career Center Director Stephanie Joynes, heard from Court Vanzant ’02 about leadership and integrity, and had a discussion with local faith leaders about supporting Afghan refugees in Southside Virginia.

Fellows in year four focus on serving as captains and big brothers to the younger guys in the program. They put their experience in to action. Fellows in year four also spent time with Brandon Randall ’04 this semester. They took the strengths finders test and worked with Michael Wriston as they discovered their gifts. The Fellows also heard from Hugo Rodriquez ’88 who asked the Fellows to reflect on their strengths and to find positive ways to interact with others.

Dr. Hillen Class Outing

students posing for a photo at the top of a hill

Seven students in the Strategic Leadership in American Institutions course—accompanied by H-SC alumni, other college professors, and Wheat Professor John Hillen—took to the field on a recent Saturday for an all-day staff ride.  A staff ride is an exercise designed by the military to re-enact the major decisions of leaders in a historic campaign on the very spots where those decisions took place. Dr. Hillen’s class adapted the concept for their study of strategic leadership and decision-making and re-played the last weeks of the U.S. Civil War, in particular 10 days of the Appomattox campaign. Playing Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Ulysses Grant, Robert E. Lee, Philip Sheridan, James Longstreet, and other major political and military decision-makers, students gave presentations in character about how they were thinking through their strategic position, their institutional goals, and how they were framing their decision-making process. The characters interacted with each other just as they may have in real life. The staff ride took place at the Sailor’s Creek Battlefield, High Bridge in Farmville, and the Appomattox Courthouse.

Coleman Meadows ’22

Why did I choose H-SC?

Coleman Meadows '22 headshot
Coleman Meadows ’22

When I took a tour of Hampden-Sydney during my senior year of high school, I got the opportunity to attend some of the classes that I was interested in taking. Since I graduated from a small private school, graduating with only 38 other students, I recognized that Hampden-Sydney would be able to provide me with a similar educational experience. For example, the small class sizes and close interactions that the students were able to have with the professors of the classes I attended resonated with me in a way that a larger state school did not.

With what activities have you been most engaged on campus?

In addition to serving as a Wilson Leadership Fellow, I am a tour guide for the Garnet and Grey Society, a peer advisor for a freshman advisory group, the president of the Mentoring Club, the chairman of the Student Court, a psychology tutor, the editor for the psychology section of the Journal of Sciences, an orientation and service leader, and a member of Omicron Delta Kappa and Psi Chi.

What have you enjoyed most about the Wilson Leadership Fellows Program?

The most meaningful component of my experience as a Wilson Leadership Fellow has definitely been the student-alumni pairings that the Fellows receive during their third year of the program. I was fortunate enough to be paired with Dave Wilson ’63, who has continuously provided me with knowledge about what to expect and how to navigate my life succeeding Hampden-Sydney. Not only has Dave taught me to pursue careers that I find particularly meaningful, but he has always made an effort to help me in any way possible.

How has the WLFP helped you grow as a person, student, and leader?

Coleman Meadows at camp with young children

As a Wilson Fellow with a minor in Leadership in the Public Interest, examining leadership theory has contributed to my growth as a person, student, and leader. For instance, it is easy to fall victim to the misconception that leaders are born rather than created through continuous practice and implementation. By learning of this fallacy early in my academic career, I have taken risks and opportunities that I likely would not have otherwise. In doing so, I have been in numerous leadership positions that have required me to examine my own leadership style and even ethical judgements, something that is rare among most college students.

What are your current plans after Hampden-Sydney?

The million-dollar question that seems to frequently arise. I have several options that I am still attempting to decipher before graduation, but in an ideal world, my plans would include attending graduate school at The College of William and Mary for school psychology and beginning my career thereafter. I have always had a passion for working with children and adolescents, and as a psychology major, I think this route would provide me with a truly meaningful career that also integrates my passion for psychological research.

Jackson Aherron ’22

Why I chose H-SC

Jackson Aherron '22 headshot
Jackson Aherron ’22

I chose Hampden-Sydney because of the opportunity to grow in and outside of the classroom. The College’s academic programs and the commitment to carrying out the mission of forming “good men and good citizens in an atmosphere of sound learning” impressed me.

With what activities have you been most engaged on campus?

While attending Hampden-Sydney, I have been a Wilson Leadership Fellow and a member of the football team. I have also served as an orientation leader, TigerFund analyst, and shift manager at Tiger Rec.

What I have enjoyed most about the Wilson Center?

I have enjoyed hearing and learning from distinguished alumni and guests of the College. These events are always enjoyable, and they have had a positive impact on how I approach leadership.

How has the WLFP helped you grow as a person, student, or leader?

The WLFP has supported my personal growth by teaching me the right way to lead. The program spends a lot of time discussing the leader-follower relationship, specifically the need for leaders to understand their followers. I now approach leadership by first learning about who I will be working with and establishing a healthy leader-follower relationship. Another way the WLFP has helped me grow is through the mentoring program. Beginning in my junior year, I was matched with an alumnus. That relationship has given me additional confidence as I begin my career.

After Hampden-Sydney

After graduation, I plan to start my career in the finance sector.