Stu­dent lead­ers look to fu­ture at UT academy

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE - By nau­reen Khan

You’re the vice pres­i­dent of com­mu­ni­ca­tions at a semi­con­duc­tor com­pany that may be re­spon­si­ble for a mas­sive chem­i­cal spill on Lady Bird Lake. How are you go­ing to han­dle it?

It may seem like a lot of re­spon­si­bil­ity for a 17-year-old, but this was the kind of sce­nario be­ing thrown at the 50 high school se­niors gath­ered Mon­day morn­ing for Subi­endo Academy, a four-day, three-night pro­gram on the Uni­ver­sity of Texas cam­pus de­signed to teach lead­er­ship skills to fu­ture movers and shak­ers.

Dur­ing this cri­sis sim­u­la­tion and man­age­ment work­shop, par­tic­i­pants learned how to work with mem­bers of the me­dia and how to avoid li­a­bil­ity, and prac­ticed hold­ing a news con­fer­ence.

The pro­gram is be­ing of­fered for the first time this week to stu­dents from Cen­tral Texas and San An­to­nio as a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween UT’s Cen­ter of Pol­i­tics and Gov­er­nance at the LBJ School of Pub­lic Af­fairs and the Texas Exes, UT’s alumni or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“The pur­pose of this is to pre­pare the next gen­er­a­tion of lead­ers and en­cour­age them to be­lieve in their po­ten­tial,” cen­ter di­rec­tor Veronica Var­gas Stid­vent said. “I hope the take­home mes­sage is that we’re count­ing on them and we trust them to chart our fu­ture.”

The academy, which cost about $150,000, was free for par­tic­i­pants and paid for by pri­vate gifts from long­time donors to the uni­ver­sity — Austin busi­ness­man Kenny Jas­trow, for­mer CEO of Tem­ple-In­land, and his wife, Susie, and phi­lan­thropists David and Suzanne Booth — Stid­vent said.

Ad­min­is­tra­tors hope to ex­pand the pro­gram in the fu­ture to in­clude more stu­dents from across the state, she said.

Subi­endo, which means “climb­ing” or “as­cend­ing” in Span­ish, was de­signed with Texas’ grow­ing His­panic com­mu­ni­ties in mind.

How­ever, ap­pli­ca­tions were dis­trib­uted to high schools

‘You get a chance to be sub­merged in all of it. Kids should open their eyes to what we’re go­ing to be.’

Cassandra Jaime

Subi­endo Academy par­tic­i­pant

through­out Cen­tral Texas and in San An­to­nio, and par­tic­i­pants were cho­sen based on their lead­er­ship po­ten­tial and es­says, re­gard­less of race or eth­nic­ity.

On the sched­ule of events: lessons in eti­quette over din- ner with UT Pres­i­dent Wil­liam Pow­ers Jr., de­bate about ed­u­ca­tion pol­icy and a con­ver­sa­tion with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the state Leg­is­la­ture.

To cap it off, the stu­dents will take a field trip to the Capi­tol on Wed­nes­day to present the poli­cies they cre­ate dur­ing the academy, have lunch with Gov. Rick Perry and hold a mock news con­fer­ence with jour­nal­ists from the Capi­tol press corps.

“I un­der­stand we’ve got a chal­lenge in pre­par­ing these kids for the next level,” said Jeff Hunt, an Austin-based busi­ness­man and UT alum­nus who ran the cri­sis man­age­ment ses­sion. He was among a slate of speak­ers who of­fered their time and ser­vices for free.

“I was re­ally pleased with these guys,” Hunt said. “Some of the women in this group — they’re go­ing to be dy­namos.”

Par­tic­i­pants said they en­joyed the hands-on as­pect of the pro­gram.

“You get a chance to be sub­merged in all of it,” said 17-year-old Cassandra Jaime of Austin. “Kids should open their eyes to what we’re go­ing to be.”

Jay Jan­ner

Edna Ramón Butts, cen­ter, gen­eral coun­sel and se­nior pol­icy ad­viser for state Sen. Kirk Wat­son, works with high school se­niors Hong Nga Nguyen, left, and Althea Garza dur­ing a Subi­endo Academy pol­icy cre­ation prepa­ra­tion ses­sion Mon­day on the UT cam­pus. Lead­er­ship pro­gram par­tic­i­pants will visit the Capi­tol on Wed­nes­day to present the poli­cies they cre­ate dur­ing the academy.

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