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Charleston Southern University > CSU News > Christian-based programs cultivate student leaders

Christian-based programs cultivate student leaders

Anna Menendez ’19 // Marketing & Communication // 4.24.19

Eric Addison and Morgan Pheffer at SLUSince its founding by CSU alum Dr. Jay Strack, Student Leadership University has brought Charleston Southern University more than 300 students in the last four years, according to Jon Davis, associate dean of Whitfield Center for Christian Leadership. Student Leadership University, also known as SLU, is a Christian-based program whose mission is to “develop and equip student leaders to think, dream, and lead.” 

“SLU aligns perfectly with our vision,” said Davis, who strongly encourages students to participate. The program accepts students to take part in both leadership training processes and challenges that prepare them to lead with a goal to influence through character-driven decision making, an inimitable demonstration of biblical values and an unequivocal dedication to service. Those who go through the experiential leadership-training program leave as empowered, enabled and equipped with their unquestioned potential to lead.

Last summer, CSU had two students intern with SLU as a media coordinator and a registration and logistics coordinator. As a representative of CSU and a Christian studies major, Eric Addison '19 worked as the media coordinator for SLU 101 and YPS. Junior Morgan Pheffer, communication studies major, served along with him.

Addison said that SLU helps young high school and upcoming college students in equipping in their faith by cultivating leadership and executive skills that are used to lead.

“They help lead not only in the workplace, school and the church area, but also help people be a leader in their faith and help them understand more about who Christ is through the areas we discussed every day,” Addison said. 

The diversity wasn’t only with the students who enrolled in the program, but with the interns as well. Addison worked with interns from several places like Alabama and Ohio and spoke of the inherent connection they experienced. 

“You guys all get to meet together and understand the team dynamic and then you just mess around through the areas we’re going to be leading the students. You get to build communities and friendships around them. Not only do you get to see how different you are but how similar, and how much you guys love Jesus,” he said.

When thinking of his time in Orlando in summer 2018, Addison recalls fondly the memories he created with his fellow leaders and students. He was hesitant at first about participating in SLU but was convinced by Davis and said, when in college “you want the best experience, but what’s a greater experience than to go to Orlando for five weeks for free and get to talk about Jesus with high school students.” 

Addison encourages other students to get involved in SLU because it brings participants out of their shells, renews their outlook on things they believe they can’t do, and helps them understand God’s presence.

“It helps you understand that it’s not you performing all the time, it’s God,” he said. “With the highs and lows of your life, you still need dependency in God. Christian leadership helps you understand that you’re not doing this alone. You have a team. Better yet, you have a family.”

Addison’s involvement with SLU coincided with CSU’s vision of the Great Commission when he had the opportunity to disciple to people from all over the continent. “We get kids from so many places. We get kids from South Carolina, Los Angeles, Texas, Canada. The Great Commission is to make disciples of all nations. Even though we have a whole week with them, it’s all very important just to bestow the gospel and show how it is to love like Christ. Not only to grow, but when it’s time for them to be sent out, they’re sent out perfectly in how the Lord wants them to be.”

SLU is partnered with CSU to help cultivate and enable a body of students to act on their inherent call to leadership. SLU does so by providing various job and internship opportunities within their programs in which Charleston Southern students can apply here.

Similar to SLU, Charleston Southern began their very own program, Student Leadership Academy. SLA is a two-semester leadership program that equips students to understand the essentials of Christian leadership for success in their future. The program commissions students to develop crucial relationships with mentors, grow in one’s understanding of themselves, their gifts and calling; and to better learn the knowledge, character traits, attitudes and skills associated to Christianity. Students can apply for SLA online and must be a sophomore, junior or senior to participate.