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Our Opinion: Forum helps build future leaders

Leadership and faith are the magnets that attract people not only to the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast, but to a concurrent student forum, as well.

In connection with the governor’s annual event, held Wednesday, nearly 100 college and university students gathered in Jefferson City for the 24th annual Student Leadership Forum on Faith and Values.

The forum provides an opportunity for young people to learn that faith and values are integral qualities for leadership, even though public policy respects the healthy separation of church and state.

Participating students typically are selected by campus administrations or student government associations.

At Lincoln University, the student government president customarily nominates students. This year, four LU students, one from each grade level, attended, including President Antonio Lewis, who was nominated by the association’s vice-president.

“We like to identify emerging leaders,” Lewis said. “Whenever I graduate, the people behind me are in the know; they know the traditions.”

Among those traditions is sharing the concept that common values may lead to diverse viewpoints that deserve to be respected and discussed.

Another tradition is learning that service may result in being elevated to a leadership position.

As participant Kevin Stewart, student government president at Southwest Baptist University, observed: “The key is not that you want to be a leader, but it’s a position others give you as you serve.”

Through participation in the Student Leadership Forum, the students have demonstrated both a willingness to serve and a capacity to lead.

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