Kristen McKnight Selected for Membership in Presidential Leadership Academy
By Kala Burke (June 2009)
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Kristen McKnight has been selected as one of only thirty rising sophomores to join the new Presidential Leadership Academy. McKnight, a Penn State College of Education student who plans on pursuing dual degrees in Elementary and Kindergarten Education as well as World Language Education, says the selection was both a surprise and an honor.
McKnight and twenty-nine other students will be the first class of the academy, which focuses on critical thinking and complex decision making related to social and political issues. The program will require participants to complete a one-credit course led by President Graham Spanier, as well as other courses dealing with leadership fundamentals and critical thinking.
“At first the thought of taking a course taught by Graham Spanier was a little intimidating, but now that I’ve met with him and the other students of the academy, I’m really excited and anxious to get started,” says McKnight. “I think it’s going to be a great experience.”
McKnight hopes the course will prepare her for making big decisions, both in her career and personal life.
“Everyone must make important decisions,” she says. “I think this course will help prepare me for making life’s biggest decision, which is what I will do with my career.”
In addition to her dual degrees, McKnight is planning a minor in Special Education. She is still undecided on what specific career path in education she’ll take after graduating and is open to exploring many possibilities.
“I can see myself working in all three areas of education,” she continues, “I could even possibly teach overseas for a few years.”
McKnight was selected for the Academy based on her academic achievements and leadership potential. She earned a 3.90 cumulative GPA her freshman year while swimming on Penn State’s Division I women’s swim team. She also tries to be active in the community and recently volunteered for the Special Olympics.
McKnight strives to be a leader in everything she does by maintaining a positive attitude and pushing others to achieve their best. “I try to be a leader by being motivating to people on my swim team, as well as my classmates,“ she says.