How a Kelley student’s experience at a global leadership summit changed her perspective


This blog post was written by Julie Pettypool, BS'20, a current Kelley student who attended the Hesselbein Global Academy Summit this summer.

Throughout our college career, we are presented with life-changing opportunities that open our minds to the world around us. We should take those opportunities, if they are right for us, because we never know if we’ll have that opportunity again.

During the fall 2018 semester, I swung by the office of one of my professors to say hello and ask a question. I found my professor and their colleague creating a list of students to invite to apply to the Hesselbein Global Academy for Student Leadership & Civic Engagement, which would be held at the University of Pittsburgh in July 2019. A few minutes before I appeared in the doorway, they had discussed adding my name to the list. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time, and they asked me to apply and told me a little bit about the academy. I learned that the academy was named after Frances Hesselbein, who is renowned for her leadership expertise and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work.

The professors were very enthusiastic about the academy, so I decided to apply. The application process consisted of answering a few essay questions about my leadership experience and sending recommendation letters. Since this was a global leadership academy, students from around the world could apply. Out of the 300 students who applied, only 50 were accepted. I was one of those 50, and the only student from Indiana. Some of the accepted students were not able to attend the summit due to visa issues. Watching them talk about the visa application process over our group chat opened my eyes to what international students go through to come to America. I learned that my fellow attendees were coming from places like South Africa, Vietnam, Canada, Peru, Colombia, Tobago, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey and more!

I was so excited about the opportunity to meet new people from all over the world because I wanted to learn from and become friends with people who are not like me. During the summit they taught me about different ways of observing life and showed me the richness of other cultures. I also found that we were similar in more ways than not.

I was lucky to have a flexible boss and company for my summer internship because they gave me the time off that I needed. I interned at Holliday Fenoglio Fowler (HFF) as a financial analyst intern. HFF has an office in Pittsburgh and I asked to stop by the office on my way to the academy. From the HFF office, I raced over to the University of Pittsburgh to check in for the summit. We had a short welcome meeting and then we were whisked away to a Pirates vs. Phillies baseball game. This was such a great way to break the ice within our group because we could sit and talk for hours. I sat next to a University of Pittsburgh student, who was a Pittsburgh native, and he told me all about the history of Pittsburgh. While doing so, he pointed to the places of historical interest he described. We could see the rivers and the “Golden Triangle” of skyscrapers from the baseball stadium. I had quite the introduction to Pittsburgh.

During our time at the academy, we were grouped into mentoring communities. There were five to six students placed in each community. Our mentors came from all walks of life, including a medical doctor, a retired Major General in the U.S. Air Force, a retired CFO, and an attorney. They each gave a lecture to us over the course of two days and we participated in multiple leadership and team-building activities. The mentors emphasized servant leadership as one of the best forms of leadership.


Following the theme of servant leadership, the organizers planned for us to engage in two service activities. For one activity, we packed over 10,000 bags of food for Rise Against Hunger. For the other activity, we engaged in Civic Engagement Site Visits where we aided nonprofits in solving a problem. My mentoring community assisted Big Brothers Big Sisters in their advertising. This visit allowed for me to utilize my skills gained at Kelley to benefit a business dedicated to serving the community. These service activities taught me that we all need each other to make a difference and serving each other helps raise us all up.

We also explored the city as a group. We took a dinner cruise on the three rivers that run through Pittsburgh: the Monongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio. We also rode the Duquesne Incline, a century-old cable car, to the top of Mt. Washington and soaked in a view of the skyline at night.

One evening, faculty and staff members of the University of Pittsburgh hosted our mentoring groups at their homes. This was such a cool time to share a meal with our group and learn about the obstacles my peers were trying to hurdle; they were not much different than mine. I was also able to receive career advice from our hostess, who was the Director of Student Affairs.

Our Leadership Academy culminated with three events. The first was a ceremony where we received medallions to mark our achievements. The second was a Skype session with Frances Hesselbein. The third was an activity where each of us went up to a podium at the front of the room and declared our leadership intentions.

One of the biggest takeaways from my experience at the academy is that we all have special talents, abilities, and cultures that make us unique, and we have many similarities between us. We can all lift each other up and utilize servant leadership as a way to better our communities. If you want to grow as a leader, experience life at another university, and open your mind to the world around you, I highly recommend that you apply for the Hesselbein Global Academy.

All photos credited to University of Pittsburgh Student Affairs Marketing.