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Emerging Public Leaders Class of 2019-20

The Emerging Public Leaders 2019-20
June 16 - 20, 2019

The Riley Institute at Furman welcomed the 2019-20 Emerging Public Leaders (EPL) to Furman's campus June 16-20, 2019 for a week filled with activities and opportunities to learn about public leadership.

Eighteen rising high school seniors from across South Carolina have been accepted for EPL's 17th class, bringing the total number of students who have participated in the program to 267. For the Schedule of Activities, click here.

The following video was produced by Sophie Anderson, a 2019-20 participant. She captured the breadth and impact of the Emerging Leaders Program.

Welcome the 2019-20 student participants:

Rund Abdelnabi, Greenville Tech, Piedmont, SC
Ashley Anderson, Academic Magnet High School, Mt. Pleasant, SC
Sophie Anderson, Greenville High School, Greenville, SC
Mackenzie Brady, Ashley Hall, Charleston, SC
Hunter Bridges, Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School, Bamberg, SC
Douglas Culclasure, Wade Hampton Fine Arts, Greenville, SC
Faith Eberflus, River Bluff High School, Lexington, SC
Vee Edlund, Oakbrook Prep, Spartanburg, SC
Natalie Geiger, Next High School, Greenville, SC
Nayha Hussain, Riverside High School, Greer, SC
Ellis McLarty, Wade Hampton Fine Arts, Greenville, SC
Ariel Meriwether, Strom Thurmond High School, Johnston, SC
Jennifer Nguyen, Socastee High School, Myrtle Beach SC
Madison Pollock, Dutch Fork High School, Irmo, SC
Robert Runnion, JL Mann High School, Greenville, SC
Dustin Tant, York Prep Academy, Rock Hill, SC
Ellie Toler, Spartanburg Day School, Spartanburg, SC
Alecia Williams, Barnwell High School, Barnwell, SC

While students are on Furman University’s campus, they will investigate topics such as engaging in the community, analyzing critical issues, practicing ethical leadership, developing communication and presentation skills, and planning for the implementation of a service project.

Following the summer program, students work with Riley Institute staff, school officials, and residents in their communities to more fully develop their service project ideas and subsequently implement projects that reflect a need and address diversity in their communities.

The students return to campus the following spring to present their community service projects to a panel of judges, and the winning project receives funding for program expansion or replication. 

EPL Student Presentations

Due to COVID-19, the students will not be returning to campus to present their community projects. Rather, each student submitted a video of their community project.

Click here to view a short description of each community project and each student's project video.

The project videos were viewed and judged by the following panel: Cindy Youssef Riyad, Director, Graduate Medical Education, Prisma Health-Upstate; Joey Espinosa, Pastor of Grace Church; and Mary Pauline Sheridan-Rabideau ('20), Furman student.

This year’s winners are:

First Place Winners (Each project receives $700)

Rund Abdelnabi, Greenville Tech Charter High School, Piedmont, S.C.
Abdelnabi’s “Pillowcase Project” provided children who are in foster care with personalized pillowcases and supplies that they can take with them as they move from place to place.

Watch Rund Abdelnabi’s community project video:

Natalie Geiger and Ellis McLarty, Next High School/Greenville Fine Arts Center and Wade Hampton High School/Greenville Fine Arts Center, Greenville, S.C.
Geiger and McLarty’s project, “Bulldogs Achieving Creative Happiness,” provided free 30-minute weekly music lessons, taught by music students at the Fine Arts Center, to students with a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds at League Academy Middle School. 

Watch Natalie Geiger and Ellis McLarty’s community project video:

Second Place Winner (Project receives $500)

Ariel Meriwether, Strom Thurmond High School, Johnston, S.C.
Meriwether’s project, “The Red Badge,” collected and distributed menstrual products to individuals experiencing financial hardship and homelessness.

Watch Ariel Meriwether’s community project video:

Third Place Winners (Each project receives $300)

Nayha Hussain, Riverside High School, Greer, S.C.
Hussain’s project, “Cooking for a Cause,” taught cooking classes to low-income adolescents in Greenville County. Her classes focused on preparing healthy, affordable, delicious meals.

Watch Nayha Hussain’s community project video:

Ellie Toler, Spartanburg Day School, Spartanburg, S.C.
Toler’s project, “Positivity Pouches,” assembled care packages, which contained hygiene and menstrual products, for women at a Spartanburg food pantry.

Watch Ellie Toler’s community project video:

Honorable Mention (Project receives $100)

Madison Pollock, Dutch Fork High School, Irmo, S.C.
Pollock’s project, “Girls Fighting Back,” organized a self-defense class for young women at her school. SASS Go volunteered their defense training services.

Watch Madison Pollock’s community project video:

Press Coverage

Emerging Public Leaders Winners Announced. Furman News

Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors that include Cox Industries, State Farm,
Walmart, and John and Emilie Pazden, students attend free of charge.