Faith, Values & Leadership

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Kansas Wesleyan student Autumn Zimmerman
Zimmerman attended National Student Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C.

A Kansas Wesleyan student had an extraordinary opportunity to interact with our nation’s top political leaders during the National Student Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C., last October.

Autumn Zimmerman spent three days discussing faith and values with members of Congress while networking with like-minded students.

"It was absolutely awesome to meet members of Congress face to face [and] realize they're just human, like you," Zimmerman said.

The forum brought together diverse college students from across the country. As they considered the leadership model of Jesus — the most influential and effective leader in Western civilization — attendees gleaned insights about strength of character, healthy relationships and great leaders of the past.

Zimmerman was the first KWU student to attend the annual forum and the only delegate from Kansas this year.

Failure, Friendship and Restoration

Former U.S. Sen. John Ensign, D-Nev., gave a keynote address during the forum that challenged students’ perspectives. His life nearly crumbled after a political scandal in 2011. But when news of Ensign’s extramarital affair went viral, his friends stepped in to speak the truth in love. Ensign and his housemates from Capitol Hill had a pact to hold each other accountable, no matter the cost. 

One of those housemates, Tim Coe, was a small group leader during the forum. Coe challenged Zimmerman and fellow students to talk through life’s ups and downs together. They formed a deep bond as they shared their stories, ambitions and fears.

“I learned that leaders make mistakes too, and I need to be prepared to fail at some point,” Zimmerman said. "Good leaders are defined by how they deal with their failures.”

Since the forum, Zimmerman has talked with her small group members several times a week. They made a similar pact to hold one another accountable in years to come.

An ambitious junior, Zimmerman is majoring in History, Computer Programming, Pre-Law and Speech. She’s a Presidential Ambassador and involved in a number of activities at Wesleyan. The forum nurtured her thoughtful, others-oriented worldview, and Zimmerman has reflected quite a bit on her position as a role model and leader.

"Students in my generation are stigmatized as being lazy and entitled,” she said. “I really recommend students get involved and make a change."

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