HAMPTON, Va. (October 30, 2019) – Students from the Hampton University William R. Harvey Leadership Institute (WRHLI) traveled to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, October 23rd for the Fall Hampton University/Liberty University Washington, D.C. Symposium.
The WRHLI Fellows were sponsored by the Hampton University Center for Public Policy (CPP). It was a jointly hosted effort between Hampton University and the Liberty University School of Government. Students met with members of Congress, toured the U.S. Capitol, met and interacted with Liberty students and even toured the National Museum of African American History & Culture.
“It is wonderful to see the collaboration effort between the William R. Harvey Leadership Institute, the Hampton University Center for Public Policy and Liberty University continue to thrive with this Fall D.C. Symposium,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey. “This was also a great opportunity for students from both schools to learn first-hand about leadership from congressional pioneers.”
Students congregated in the Members Room in the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress where they heard about what it’s really like in Congress from Brian Colas, Deputy Chief of Staff for Senator Tom Cotton; Congresswoman Elaine Luria; Shannon Bream, Fox News Anchor; and Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma.
Brian Colas, a Liberty University graduate, gave the crowd some great advice for anyone who might run for an office or wants to be involved in politics in the future. “Who has a Twitter account? This is my advice. Delete your account! I cannot tell you how many people have been burned by things they said in college or right after college, that seemed fine at the time, and came back to bite them,” Colas said. He also advised the students to develop hard skills such as video editing or graphic design because it will help them stand out. He also said to be flexible, because things might not work out as planned.
Congresswoman Elaine Luria represents Virginia’s Second Congressional District. Prior to her election in 2018, Rep. Luria served two decades in the Navy, retiring at the rank of Commander. She also served at sea on six ships as a nuclear-trained Surface Warfare Officer and culminated her Navy career by commanding a combat-ready unit of 400 sailors.
Congresswoman Luria spoke about women and diversity in Congress and that it is slowly improving. Her biggest piece of advice to the students was to “be engaged in the political process and make sure you vote,” Congresswoman Luria said.
Shannon Bream is a Liberty University graduate who interned on Capitol Hill after graduation. She originally was a lawyer but then decided to pursue a career in television news. She worked her way up and is now an anchor for Fox News Channel based in the network’s Washington, D.C. bureau. “A lot of people along the way gave me advice. Networking is so important in D.C. Maximize that. That is what will keep you connected. Also, research is so important. Learn how to dig for information and don’t be afraid to ask for help,” said Bream.
The last speaker for the Symposium was Senator James Lankford. He provided a unique perspective because he was a youth minister for many years before taking office in 2014. “For me, coming into politics was a very big shift. I was in youth ministry for 20 years. I have yet to meet anyone that said, ‘If you want to be a United States Senator someday, be a youth minister first,’” Senator Lankford joked. He had never been involved in politics before, but participated in speech and debate in school. He feels that he was called by God to run for office. “I desire for political leaders to also be good role models,” Senator Lankford said.
Kya Jones, Hampton University business management major, leadership studies minor from Atlanta, Ga., attended last year’s Symposium and appreciates the opportunity to interact with Liberty students. “Working with Liberty University is very interesting because they have a different culture in that area and so it’s a great time opportunity to hang out with the students, network and get a chance to listen to their perspective,” said Jones.
“My wish and vision is that every member of Congress would carpe diem and speak before our students. Then they will realize that our democracy is shining bright and in good hands with the millennial and generation z students we have on our campuses,” said Dr. Jarris Louis Taylor, Jr., Director of the William R. Harvey Leadership Institute. “This collaboration with Liberty University will undoubtedly provide a benchmark for other institutions of higher learning to embrace, replicate and incorporate in their ethos.”
Students also got the opportunity to tour the U.S. Capitol.