LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas Memorial Union and Rotary District 5710 collaborated to host Rotary International’s first virtual leadership academy. Traditionally held as an overnight program on the KU Lawrence campus, the Rotary Youth Leadership Academy (RYLA) was redeveloped into an online format via Zoom.
Thirty high school student leaders, sponsored by local Rotary clubs from across eastern Kansas, participated in the leadership academy June 7-12, engaging KU student facilitators, KU and Union staff, and Rotarians in a series of team-building and group problem-solving activities as well as discussions on leadership, community service and civic engagement.
KU facilitators included the following students:
- Cody Murray, Hutchinson
- Megan Bartlett, Lenexa
- Chidera Okoye, Kansas City, Kansas
- Mikayla Leader, Wichita
- Mary Bisbee, Rosalia.
"We were excited to develop RYLA in this new virtual format and continue the great tradition of the program,” said J.J. O’Toole-Curran, senior associate director of the KU Memorial Union. “It connects KU to one of the premier civic service organizations in the world and some of the finest students in Kansas."
RYLA students also worked on topic-based groups to develop strategies for addressing challenges facing the people of Kansas, including strategies to keep Kansas graduates in the state, examining funding issues concerning the humanities in K-12 education and the viability of year-round school. Each RYLA group presented their proposals at the RYLA graduation closing ceremony. KU has coordinated with Rotary program since 2009.
Rotary District 5710 is composed of 44 clubs in Eastern Kansas, with over 2,400 members.