Rotary International treats students to a youth leadership retreat


(Left to right) Andrea Sayson, Ebere Chukwuyem. Daniela Martinez, Anna Zawistowski, Rama Hammad, Austin Tranchita, Shravi Kothari, Jasmin Rodriguez, Jodee Capati, Miguel Alano, Brendan Gates

Jodee Capati, Lead Reporter

What makes a good leader? I mean, we all have different definitions of what “good” is. Heck, I could ask three students, and they could all give me various meanings to the word “good.” So, I’ll rephrase… “How do you become a successful leader?”

Eleven Interact Clubstudents took part of in a three-day / three-night Youth Leadership Camp filled with food, fun, and presentations on the aspects of leadership. And here’s the catch, it was all for FREE.

“[Rotary] provided me with the information and said that they would be willing to sponsor a number of students. We have now been sending Interact students to RYLA for the past four years and it has been a great experience for all involved,” said Maggie King, student services department and Interact Club sponsor.

Interact Club is a Rotary-sponsored club that focuses on promoting volunteer opportunities and enhancing students’ social and leadership skills. Rotary International is an international service uniting global and local leaders to provide humanitarian service around the world.

Andrea Sayson, President of Interact Club, played a role in the selection of the “lucky eleven” for the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA).

“We selected 12 Interacters who have been heavily participating in meetings, events, volunteer opportunities. The board, Ms. King, and I also look at students who’ve shown the most potential in leading their peers,” Sayson said.

RYLA is hosted by Sean Nelson, a Rotarian, and students of every level of most Illinois high schools come together to interact and learn more about themselves and how they lead their peers.

“I came in to RYLA believing it would be corny. Upon arrival, [everyone] was open and friendly,” said Ebere Chukwuyem, senior. “I [created] more friendships and [found] out more about myself. [RYLA] will remain with me for the rest of my life.”

Other attendees found the experience memorable as well. “From the speakers to our small groups to my bunkmates, I loved everything about it,” said Miguel Alano, junior.

“It was my first camp, so it was something new. I came for the experience, and I didn’t regret it,” added Jasmin Rodriguez, junior.