Local members of the President’s Leadership Class at East Central University meet with ECU President John Hargrave (center) in Danley Hall. Josiah Biles (from left) and Corissa Hood, graduates of Ada High School, and Elizabeth Medina and Macy McDonald, graduates of Vanoss High School, are among the 15 outstanding high school graduates selected for the program which will help build their leadership skills and includes free tuition and residence hall room waivers for four years.   


Fifteen outstanding freshmen have been selected for the enhanced President’s Leadership Class this fall at East Central University.

ECU President John Hargrave has revived the PLC program to include free tuition and residence hall room waivers for four years for full-time PLC students who maintain an overall 3.0 grade point average. He added a one-semester credit course on leadership to help the students build on their existing leadership strengths and acquire new leadership skills.

Previously, PLC students were offered early enrollment, attended a one-day orientation and received only small scholarships each semester.

Students selected for the class, and their high schools, are Josiah Biles and Corissa Hood, Ada High School; Reana Burnett, Tushka; Joshua Burton, Bowlegs; Chance Carey, McAlester; Tyler Davis, Wewoka; Ellyn Jones, Norman; Joanne Keith, Putnam City; Sarah Kiper, Westmoore; Macy McDonald and Elizabeth Medina, Vanoss; Ashlie Simpson, Valliant; Lori Stanton, Dickson; Kaylee Thompson, Noble; and T.J. Winkler, Union High School, Tulsa.

“We want to offer freshmen who demonstrated a high level of leadership in high school the opportunity to cultivate their potential,” Hargrave said. “We will help them strengthen their leadership skills by studying leadership styles and characteristics and encouraging them to participate in university activities, all while maintaining their high academic standards.”

Hargrave was among the freshmen selected for ECU’s first President’s Leadership Class in 1973-74.

“Learning about leadership was a valuable experience,” Hargrave said, “but so was getting to know and go through ECU with so many outstanding students. One of them was Bronson Warren, who is now ECU’s dean of students.”  

The one-semester course will be taught by Hargrave, Warren and Dr. Diane Berty, vice president for student development.

To qualify, high school seniors had to have a minimum 3.3 grade point average and score 22 or above on the ACT test. They were selected after group and individual interviews.

“This is a very well-rounded group of students. They are coming to ECU with a wide range of accomplishments and leadership talents. We are looking forward to working with them and will be proud to call them ECU Tigers,” Hargrave said.

The students will learn about various leadership theories and models, study group dynamics and community building, analyze ethical dimensions of leadership and learn how to use basic ethical principles to make decisions, and develop and refine their critical thinking skills as well as their oral and written expression.

The students must earn at least a C in the class to continue to participate in the PLC program.

Many of the 15 freshmen are valedictorians or ranked near the top of their class, are members of the National Honor Society or have been honored for academic achievements and have participated in numerous school and community service activities.

Students selected for the program include:

Josiah Biles, who maintained a GPA above 4.0 all four years at Ada High School, was a member of the Ada High Scholastic Meet team and the mock trial team and was selected to attend a mock trial workshop at Harvard Law School in November. He participated in a cultural exchange program in Wales for two summers. He was a member of the AHS cross country team for three years and was named All State Cross Country. He was senior class vice president, a Vision Bank Board student representative and active in community service. He is the son of Charlie and Merrianne Biles and plans to major in pre-medicine.

Corissa Hood attended Vanoss Schools before graduating from Ada High School. She was vice president of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, reporter of FFA and chaplain of the Business Professionals of America. She placed first, second and fourth in Oklahoma BPA state competitions. She was freshman class secretary and participated in Ada High Leadership, ProStart, Ruff Ryders, Cougar Crazies, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, DECA and 4-H. She is the daughter of Earl and Christy Hood and will major in biology.

Macy McDonald was ranked first in her class at Vanoss High School and completed several college courses as a concurrent ECU student. She was one of three students selected by People’s Electric Cooperative in Ada for the Oklahoma Youth Tour to Washington, D.C., and participated in Oklahoma Girls State in 2009. She holds the Vanoss record for Science Olympics competition. She was an ambassador for the local Business Professionals of America chapter and has won numerous state and national BPA awards. She is the daughter of Monica and Wendell McDonald and will major in English.

Elizabeth Medina was treasurer of the Student Council at Vanoss High School. She also was secretary of her class, parliamentarian of Business Professionals of America and participated in the Academic Bowl. She was a member of the Art Club and Student Citizens of Tomorrow. She is the daughter of Marina Medina and Jose Luis Medina. She plans to major in nursing.

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