Hesselbein Global Academy

Change Lives, Change the World—The Hesselbein Global Academy

Mame Ngom, a Fellow in this year’s Hesselbein Global Academy, knows what it means to need help. Her family experienced homelessness for two years while her mother, a single parent, was escaping from domestic violence and recovering from a stroke.
Now, as a first-generation college student, Mame is dedicated to serving others. “You can be in a position to help people change,” she says. “You have the power to put people at a table they never thought they’d sit at.”
As a Command Sergeant Major in the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets, Mame is a student leader among her peers—serving both in the Color Guard and as Vice President of a chapter of Operation Smile—and when she heard about the University of Pittsburgh’s Hesselbein Global Academy, she was immediately interested in the unique opportunity to learn more about service through leadership.
The Hesselbein Global Academy is in its 11th year of offering a transformative, globally-minded leadership experience for student leaders from around the world. Delegates participate in interactive workshops, receive mentorship from government and business leaders, and take part in hands-on problem solving sessions.
This year, 42 delegates traveled from Canada, Columbia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Chile, Peru, Trinidad & Tobago, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and South Africa to participate in the academy. Delegates also came from the United States, representing Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Michigan, Louisiana, Connecticut, Maryland, Texas, Ohio, and Indiana.
Over the course of four days, from July 20-23, the participants built relationships with mentors and peers, while building critical leadership skills. They also worked with eight different community organizations for a Civic Engagement day on Monday, July 22th, to give Fellows the opportunity to apply their learning to an organizational leadership challenge through strategic thinking and problem solving. As part of their service learning, they also packed 10,000 meals for families in need across the globe by partnering with Rise Against Hunger. 
“This has been an exciting summer for the Academy,” says Dr. Sarah Popovich, Assistant Director of Leadership Education in the Office of Cross Cultural and Leadership Development. “In addition to hosting the 2019 Hesselbein Student Leadership Summit, we also hosted an Academy Alumni Reunion Dinner in New York in August. The reunion dinner brought together alumni from the past eleven Summits. It was incredible to hear stories from the alumni about how the Academy has played an important role in their leadership journeys.” To date, the Academy boasts over 500 global alumni.
It is precisely this unique global network and breadth of experience that draws students to the program, as they seek to prepare themselves for the challenges of leadership in the 21st century. “My generation has a lot of intimidating problems,” says Mame. “We lose morale. So it’s great to know I’m not alone, that there’s a team of other student-leaders who are also addressing global problems. It’s invigorating to be here.”
Alijah Jackson, a junior studying Communication Studies at the University of the West Indies, said that it was “a pleasure being here because it offers new opportunities.” In particular, she noted that the program helps students to “learn to see through another person’s eyes, which helps us to self-reflect.”
Her own self-reflection led her to understand that her goal is “not just to be a leader, but to serve. You get so inspired hearing about the amazing things your peers are doing for others—not in the sense of comparing yourself, but just to be pushed to do your best.”
Alijah sees herself in five years being influential in her community, especially in the education sector, and she plans to start a small non-profit when she returns home. Ultimately, she hopes to serve her country at a high level in education and community development projects.
The Hesselbein Global Academy continues to expand its reach to influence the next generation of leaders, building on the success of its partnership with Frances Hesselbein, the former CEO of the Girl Scouts of America and a formidable pioneer in nonprofit leadership.  As Dr. Popovich explains, “We are delighted to have had the opportunity to host the Academy at the University of Pittsburgh for the past eleven years, and we anticipate that our global impact will increase as we expand into our second decade. The strength of the Academy lies in its commitment to the inclusion of different perspectives and the commitment to creating positive change for our world. We appreciate the dedication of the mentors for providing their expertise as well as the dedication from the selected participants in pursuing this training that they can then leverage in their own communities.”
When asked what she would like people to know about how the Hesselbein Global Academy has influenced her life, Mame Ngom ended with this thought: “When I die, I’m not going to be able to take material things with me. Instead, what matters to me is the legacy I leave behind. I want people to know that the Academy is changing my life for the good. And when you change lives, you change the world.”
For more information on the Academy, please visit www.hesselbein.pitt.edu. To make a donation to the Academy, please visit www.giveto.pitt.edu/Hesselbein
By: Sarina Moore