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The history of the President’s Student Leadership Initiative

By Joshua Burley
On June 14, 2019

With over 100 members, the President’s Student Leadership Initiative (SLI) is one of the most thriving organizations at Grambling State University. 

The organization allows each of its members to be able to shape themselves into the type of leader that they want to be. 

SLI was founded by Beverly Hill-Hercules and Dr. Vivian Larkin, during Dr. Willie Larkin’s term as president of Grambling State University. 

“I was approached by President Larkin to write a proposal on black males initiative,” Hill-Hercules said. “I sent it to Washington, D.C. for approval and funding and it was denied.”

Hill-Hercules and Larkin did not give up when they were denied approval for the group. 

They continued to search for different options to make this idea a reality.

“I was asked to look into some other types of programs and I just thought about doing a leadership program,” Hill-Hercules said. “Vivian Larkin helped in assisting with the day-to-day operation and getting it together.” 

SLI started in the fall semester of 2015.  

“We just kind of started from the ground, kind of shaping and molding it after a leadership program that we wanted to wanted it tomorrow,” Hill-Hercules. “I went out and I saw that there was an ongoing excellent leadership model to follow.”

On its very first induction ceremony, 25 males and 25 females were brought into the organization. 

Graduating senior, Abbyssinia Flores, was one of the first 50 members to be inducted into SLI.

“The President’s Student Leadership Initiative has given me so many leadership qualities,” Flores said. “It has helped me to develop my confidence as a leader and as a student every year with something different that I’ve always found a passion for and I fell in love with the organization.” 

Since her freshman year at Grambling State University,  Flores has worked with the public relations committee of SLI. She then went on to run the public relations committee for two years back to back.

“I wanted to take from what I saw and learned from the people who inspired me to be in that position, take the things that they did, and do it ten times better,” Flores said. “I wanted to use their vision and my own vision to make the committee better.”  

Since the beginning of its existence SLI has brought in four cohorts and is getting ready to induct its fifth cohort in the upcoming academic school year. 

“For what it is worth I think it is a great opportunity for students to join this organization and to be a part of it,” Hill-Hercules said. 

“It is important for them to learn those skill sets that are available for the students to help better their skills.”

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