November 7, 2023

Scholarship Recipients “Transformed” during MCEC’s Frances Hesselbein Student Leadership Program

Ten exceptional students from across the globe attended the Military Child Education Coalition® (MCEC®) Fall 2023 Frances Hesselbein Student Leadership Program (FHSLP) at the prestigious United States Military Academy at West Point, October 23-27, 2023.

The Fall 2023 class of students represented five states and Italy:

– Destiny P. from Killeen High School (Killeen, TX)
– Emma D. from Leavenworth High School (Leavenworth, KS)
– Finn M. from Union Pines High School (Cameron, NC)
– Jacob S. from Bob Jones High School (Madison, AL)
– Jayla H. from Crossroads High School (Copperas Cove, TX)
– Kiani S. from Daleville High School (Daleville, AL)
– Matthew K. from Granby High School (Norfolk, VA)
– Natalie S. from James Madison High School (San Antonio, TX)
– Nicholas V. from Sigonella Middle High School (Sigonella, Italy)
– Olivia K. from Pinecrest High School (Southern Pines, NC)

Throughout the week, students participated in team building exercises, met inspirational speakers, absorbed a wealth of knowledge, made life-long friendships, and even celebrated a birthday. The jam-packed schedule touched on effective communication, physical and mental health, goal setting, mentorship practices, character building, and the importance of reflection. Activities and lessons were provided by West Point personnel and cadets, the American Red Cross, and the Military Child Education Coalition.

“I was able to build my leadership skills during the week while making relationships that will last a lifetime. It was a truly transformative event that I will always remember and be extremely grateful for.”

Jacob, Madison, AL

The FHSLP, established by MCEC in 2006, enhances the leadership skills of individual students and strengthens their Student 2 Student® (S2S™) teams on campus. A unique experience for students to engage in leadership activities and lessons alongside cadets and other S2S leaders, the program empowers students to make a lasting impact on their local S2S programs.

In 2021, former Chief of Staff of the Army, General (Retired) Dennis Reimer established the Suzy Carlton Student Leadership and Civic Responsibility Award in conjunction with FHSLP. The award is named after Suzanne “Suzy” Carlton, a military-connected wife and mother who honorably and selflessly worked to support others as a Department of the Army Civilian and special assistant to two Army Chiefs of Staff – including GEN Reimer.

Heartily endorsed by Suzy’s husband Charlie, Nicholas from Sigonella Middle High School was named this year’s recipient of the award.  Nicholas, by all accounts a standout student leader, embodies the qualities highlighted in the award and underscored the important role kindness plays in welcoming all new students.

“Being on the receiving end of kindness was what made my transition bearable. That is why the most important student attribute in S2S is kindness, because without kindness, we fail to make student transitions easy and comfortable,” said Nicholas upon receiving the award.

MCEC is thankful to our partners who help make this program possible. The Fall 2023 FHSLP was powered in part by Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) to honor and empower post-9/11 injured service members, veterans, and their families. Additional scholarship funding was provided by Star Market, and First National Bank (TX).

Frances Hesselbein, a trailblazer, author, editor, and gifted leader, passed away in December 2022. This year’s fall session was the first to be held since Frances’ passing. Her legacy lives on in our hearts and in the spirit of this leadership program.

The next FHSLP will be held in the spring of 2024 at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO.

For additional information, please contact Karen Kirk, Director of Marketing and Brand Creative, Military Child Education Coalition, at

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