Since I graduated from Liberty in December, I had an extra semester to kill before participating in commencement in May. I’d heard about the Focus Leadership Institute (formerly titled “Focus on the Family Institute”) through my family’s connection with Focus on the Family when I was in high school, and I’d always been psyched to go. So, while I was working in Washington, D.C. last summer, I took a few minutes to fill out my application, get in touch with Jeff Abel (a Liberty alumnus and FLI’s director of student services) via Twitter, and wait to be accepted.
I received confirmation that I was accepted in November, and after Christmas break had come to an end, I packed up my belongings once again to attend school out-of-state — except instead of going back to Lynchburg, VA, Colorado Springs, CO, was my destination.
FLI has been a complete blast so far. I’ve only been here for four weeks, and the staff and students alike have challenged me to deepen my faith and face head-on the challenges in my life. The FLI Web site has this synopsis to offer:
The Focus Leadership Institute is a one-semester journey of study through the hows and whys of the Christian faith. Student leaders from both Christian and non-religious universities come to explore a unique academic approach to leadership in the areas of marriage, family, church, society and comparative worldviews.
Assumptions are challenged. Hands-on learning cements new ideas gleaned from primary sources. Top-notch teaching flows seamlessly into intentional community as staff and students share life together, working out in practical ways what it means to live every aspect of one’s life to the glory of God alone.
There are 53 of us at FLI this semester: 13 guys and 40 girls (good odds for the guys). We come from different schools all over the country, and so far we’ve created a pretty amiable community. We take 4 classes a week: Christian Worldview Studies with Dr. Chris Leland; Family, Church and Society Studies with Dr. Del Tackett (face of The Truth Project); Marriage and Family Studies with Dr. and Mrs. Leland and Dr. Julianna Slattery; and Gender and Leadership Studies with Drs. Robert and Elena Thomason. You can read a synopsis of each of these classes here.
On top of all these classes, we are also assigned a practicum to work for during the course of the semester. I was super excited when I found out I’d be working with Boundless, a webzine for young adults I’ve been following since I was in 10th grade. I work with the blog segment of the site: writing blog posts, moderating and publishing comments, checking e-mail, and learning from my supervisors. I’ve really enjoyed it so far, especially now that I’m learning to write more feature-style articles (as opposed to the hard news stuff I’ve had the privilege to write while working at the Liberty Champion).
I’ve already been grown and stretched in more ways than one since I’ve been here (and it’s only been four weeks!), so I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next. Instead of being here just to kill time, I hope my time here burns slowly. I have a feeling I won’t want to leave when it’s over.