Illinois Leadership Seminars changed my life for the better. I was chosen to be a leader sophomore year and when I say this three day seminar is like no other I really mean it. I learned the true meaning of phrases like "Don't be scurred", "Break out of the box", "Diversity", and "Friendship". I learned about my leadership style and how to be the best leader for my community. But most importantly I learned to believe in myself and to not anyone knock me down because I am going to be a leader that changes the world. I have made friends from ILS that I will have for a lifetime and I am so blessed that I got to go through this seminar. My leadership potential was most definitely unleashed, and now I go back to the seminar and lead future leaders so the same will happen to them.
I was chosen during my sophomore year of high school to attend ILS. I genuinely expected to walk in and be told "do this, don't do that". I thought I would meet new people who were all better than me, and I didn't expect to exit the program with much of anything.
I was extremely wrong; boy did I have a lot in store.
As soon as I entered, I was surrounded by cheerful yelling and people with energy for DAYS. For some it may have been a bit intimidating, but for me it was reassuring. I knew I could take a deep breath; it was going to be fun!
Anyways, throughout the duration of the weekend, I learned so much. I met some of the most amazing people; everyone I met is cemented in my mind forever because everyone was unique in their own way. Everyone around me was equal; it didn't matter if you were a girl or a boy, or if you were young or old. We were all equal.
I cried more than ever before that weekend; sharing stories, hearing stories, realizing that I was going to have to return to the real world... it really did hit me hard.
ILS touched my heart in a way that no other organization has ever done. From that weekend, I learned enough to reconstruct the lives of anyone I come across. I am smarter, stronger, more confident, etc. I truly believe that I walked out of that organization as a far more well rounded person. I can't imagine life without ILS ♡♡
When I learned that I was selected to attend ILS this past summer, I was beyond excited. My situation was a bit different than many leaders, due to the fact that I had family that had gone through seminar. I dreamed of attending ILS ever since I was 12, but I could never have even dreamed of what I experienced. When I walked onto the North Park campus on an early Friday morning, I was greeted by the most welcoming group of people I had ever met. I could never have imagined what I experienced in those three short days. ILS is an organization that not only helps to build leaders, but builds confidence and encourages students to "destroy their box" and be themselves. Even better than the things I learned about myself as a leader were the people who I spent this unforgettable weekend with. People who had already gone through seminar told me as soon as I found out what a family ILS became in only three days. I thought to myself, "How is that possible? How can people who have never met become so close in such a short amount of time?" I have never been more wrong about anything in my life. After just one day together, everyone was dancing, laughing, joking, and having conversations like we had known each other since birth. When I first learned about ILS, I never expected what I was going to experience. ILS forever changed my life, and I never pass up an opportunity to spread some of the knowledge I gained or encourage someone to take advantage of the opportunity to experience this outstanding organization.
Illinois Leadership Seminars is not just "another leadership thing". The leaders, volunteers, and families of both are changed after this weekend seminar. When I found out I was selected for the program in 2012, I was nervous, apprehensive, and a little bit scared. I didn't know that the people would become my family. I didn't know that the program would help me realize my leadership potential AND give me the tools I needed to put that potential to work. Before this seminar, I was a close-minded kid who definitely didn't think she was a leader. After this seminar, I became an open-minded, strong willed leader who does her best to help others see their own potential. ILS has been one of the best things in my life.
I attended ILS in 2012, and because I had such a great experience that I came back this year on staff. You may think you know what a "leadership seminar" is, but ILS doesn't fit whatever you're thinking. ILS teaches confidence, motivation, better listening skills, and how to be yourself (unapologetically), all while creating a family that will last a lifetime. ILS is truly the best experience I have had in my life. I encourage everyone who has the opportunity to be a part of it to stay involved.
The Illinois Leadership Seminar is probably one of the most spectacular things I have ever had the honor and joy of being a part of. It is enlightening, and creates leaders who really do become leaders in their communities. It teaches essential skills and makes us all better people overall, as well as giving the people who go through the seminar amazing connections that will last out entire lives. There really are no words to describe how phenomenal this program really is and the impact it has on the people who go through it.
This organization actually changes lives. Not too many places can say that! When I went through the seminar in 2006, my life changed and I knew that I needed to pay it forward and help change the lives of the future. In fact, ILS is what inspired me to become a teacher. I had never thought about that career until ILS helped me to realize my potential and created a brand new dream for me. And now I am a successful and happy teacher and love every day of my life and I owe most of that to ILS.
I went through ILS in 2006 and it completely changed my life forever. I try to think about where I would be today if some other student had gotten picked instead of me, and I know that my life would look very different. ILS is a cause that I believe in wholeheartedly and has inspired my choice of career as a high school teacher. ILS inspired my passion of being a positive role model for young people. I am grateful every day for ILS!
When I first found out I was chosen to be the sophomore from my high school to participate in ILS, I assumed that I was going to attend a conference that would sit me down and just tell me a whole bunch of tips on how to be a better leader. I expected to meet a few new people to whom I would connect, and there would be a whole bunch of people who would not really take me seriously. What I didn't expect was what actually happened. I didn't expect that I would be able to show my true personality to everyone and be accepted for it. I didn't expect that I could state my opinions truthfully and wholly without getting ridiculed. I didn't expect to meet and connect with so many people there. I didn't expect that I would have so much fun in only two days. I didn't expect that I would create lifelong friendships in just those two days. I didn't expect that the friends I created in those two days would know me better as a person and value me more than some of the people back home that I consider my "friends." I didn't expect all the adults involved in the program to treat me as an equal. I didn't expect to be so encouraged to be silly and truly be unashamed of myself. I didn't expect a place full of welcome people. I didn't expect a place where I felt at home among people I would have called complete strangers the day before ILS started. I didn't expect people who I would eventually call my family. I didn't expect to be so emotionally moved by the seminar. I didn't expect that I would learn so much about myself and others. I didn't expect that by the end of the seminar I would want to tell everyone around me about my life-changing experience and want to encourage countless freshmen to try to apply to become a part of the seminar. I didn't expect it to be what ILS is: a community, a family, a place of utter acceptance for who you are, and a life-changing experience.
Illinois Leadership Seminars brings things out of young aspiring leaders that few other experiences can provide. My personal experience going through the seminar shaped the voice that I would use through high school and college - that of a vocal and powerful leader. That is just one experience. In several years of volunteer work with the organization, I've heard countless other stories of growth, ambition, courage, and hope. The experience provided is one of power and influence on the lives of young people.
Staff is top notch and professional; the range to bring in young leaders with a goofiness and charisma and then drive a lasting impact through a distinct brand of wisdom and honesty is a skill that has never failed to amaze me. Countless hours poured in by an unbelievably dedicated board, a diverse and committed volunteer staff, and a well-developed and poignant programming schedule make this organization nothing short of a great non-profit.
This organization changed my life. It has helped me to become a better person. ILS is the most inspiring program. This organization, which I now consider my family, has helped me to realize my full potential. In addition, making me feel at home and accepted.
I am very grateful that my son was able to attend ILS. It has helped him open up and celebrate the person that he is. He is eager to share his experiences with others at his high school. He is responding to the leader within himself. Thank you to all the people who have made this experience possible for my son.