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College of Education > News and Publications > News: April - June 2011 > College of Education Students Selected for Penn State's Presidential Leadership Academy

College of Education Students Selected for Penn State's Presidential Leadership Academy

Three students from Penn State’s College of Education have been selected to participate in the university’s Presidential Leadership Academy.

by Hannah Chakan (June 2011)

University Park, Pa.—Three students from Penn State’s College of Education have been selected to participate in the University’s Presidential Leadership Academy (PLA) during the 2011-2012 academic year. The academy, a program started by University President Graham Spanier, focuses on leadership fundamentals and critical thinking.

Each spring, 30 freshmen are selected to join the academy after an intense application and interview process. They are initiated into the program in the fall and officially begin their membership. The program requires that each student complete three prescribed courses and four leadership excursions over the duration of their three-year enrollment.

This fall, College of Education students Maggie Cardin, Marcy Herr, and Julia Kern will be among new members inducted into the academy.

Maggie Cardin is a rising sophomore from Denver, Pa., majoring in intermediate education with an English teaching option. Cardin said she first learned about the PLA from a flyer in her dormitory building and immediately went online to find out more information about the program.

Cardin said she is looking forward to taking a PLA-required course taught by Spanier next year and enhancing her leadership skills for when she becomes an educator.

“I told the interview panel that I would be able to pass on my knowledge gained to the leaders of tomorrow through teaching,” Cardin said.

A career goal of Cardin’s is to be involved with the development of a required program or model for education majors that increases their awareness on recognizing mental illnesses, such as depression, in children and teens.

“I think that after spending the next three years involved with this fine program, I will be better equipped to make a difference in the world,” Cardin said.

Marcy Herr is a rising sophomore from Lancaster, Pa., majoring in elementary education. Herr said she heard about the PLA through the Schreyer Honors College and applied because she wanted to further develop her leadership skills.

Herr said that as an academy member, she hopes to take advantage of the many learning opportunities that are presented to her through the PLA. She is looking forward to having the chance to work closely alongside Spanier, as well as the dean of the honors college, Christian Brady.

“I expect to not only develop into a stronger leader, but also to make many new friends,” said Herr. She said she is most excited to meet other academy members and for a planned excursion to Washington, D.C., next year.

Herr said she hopes the academy will help to provide her with the skills and abilities she needs to impact the field of education after she graduates. “I think it will prepare me to face issues in education, and to work towards improving those issues,” she said.

Julia Kern is a rising sophomore from Bethesda, Md., majoring in education and public policy. Kern said she first became interested in joining the academy when she was browsing the Schreyer Honors College Web site before she even came to Penn State.

“I didn’t hesitate when I was nominated by (Associate Professor) Dana Mitra, who is the head of my major and my honors advisor,” said Kern. “I dove into the application headfirst.”

Kern said she is most looking forward to getting to know her academy class and that she expects her three years in the PLA to help her become a better leader and more informed community member.

“I anticipate that the academy will be a great way to practice and observe the themes I learn about as an education and public policy major,” Kern said. “As PLA members, one of our responsibilities will be to develop policies regarding community issues. I hope to draw off of what I learn in the classroom in order to do so.”

For more information on the Presidential Leadership Academy, visit