Features editor attends leadership conference in Washington DC over summer


Shannon Sullivan

Attendees of the law and advocacy program were treated to a ropes course on the second day of the program.

Shannon Sullivan

I flew solo halfway across the country this summer to attend the National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC) at Georgetown University in Washington DC, for a program in law and advocacy. 

The NSLC is a program that offers a select number of middle and high school students the opportunity to attend an interactive summer workshop. Their goal is to help students get used to a college environment, learn leadership skills and gain experience for a future career. 

I was invited to the program by signing up for the college search program when I took the PSAT. 

The program lasted from July 31 to Aug. 8. During that time, I stayed on the Georgetown campus in a student dorm with another attendee. There were about 90 other students from across the country. 

We were given lectures on law by licensed professionals and an actual professor. We used the information they gave us to help during the final mock trial. 

The mock trial was the criminal case of The People V. Daniel Tanner. It was based off a real-life case but the people involved were renamed. It’s about the murder of Ireland “Hillbilly” Boyd, whose wife admitted to conspiring with her neighbor, Daniel “Bud Tanner” to kill him. 

We were divided into separate teams for defense and prosecution. I was chosen as part of the prosecution. Our team did a total of two trials, with all of us switching between being lawyers and witnesses.

I was assigned a direct and cross-examination, which is essentially establishing what a witness knows and how that supports our case. My direct examination went well, but I froze during the cross-examination. 

Another thing we did was go on trips every day. Those trips included visits to The Supreme Court, monuments such as the Jefferson Memorial, museums like the Natural History Museum, and even the FBI headquarters. We were given even more lectures by people who worked there. 

Since this was also a leadership conference, we did sections on how to improve our leadership skills. Those skills include knowing your leadership style, how to change it to adapt to your audience, conflict resolution, and many others. 

I had signed up for the program to test the waters for a future career in law. My time at NSLC was filled with a lot of late nights and confusing law books but it’s an experience I will always value and a taste of independence I’m glad I did not miss out on. The workshop also allowed me to get a taste of what a career in law has in store for me.