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My experience with Abbey Road Programs at Stanford - by Jake S.

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What your main academic and personal goals and how do they relate to your participation in Abbey Road’s Leadership Academy program this summer?

I’m definitely planning on going to college. Five years from now, I’m not sure maybe [I’ll be] in graduate school. I love to learn new things [especially] things that are applicable in the real world. I have always been interested in International Relations, maybe even as a profession. The Abbey Road Leadership Academy seemed like a great mix of the two. [The program] gave me a great idea of what studying International Relations might be . I had been thinking about studying this area in college before the program, but now I’m definitely sure I want to incorporate International Relations in to my higher education.
What was your expectation of the program prior to attending?

I didn’t know a lot going in because it is a newer program. I just wanted to broaden my understanding. I didn’t anticipate there would be so many foreign students, which was great! Having more international students brings a whole new perspective to the classroom. The program definitely exceeded any expectations I may have had going in. There was a ton of diversity it was fantastic. 

Which specific classes and topics were you most interested in prior to attending the program?
In general, I love history and languages. The courses that we took with Dr. Kian were just fantastic. He is a remarkably knowledgeable man and it was amazing to be able to listen and learn from experts in their fields. Specifically, nuclear proliferation and general international relation theories was what I was most excited about.
During the program, what were your favorite classes?

Pretty much anything where Dr. Kian was the head instructor!
Describe Leadership Academy’s approach to learning and leaders: What does the program do to enable a student to learn effectively and grow as a leader?

There are lots of opportunities to make and form your own opinions. Being able to critically analyze scholars take on subjects. There is a lot of opportunity for public speaking as well, which I think is key for leadership. Being able to present yourself in an elegant, articulate manner.
With this in mind, what type of student would benefit from this program?

The students who want to go on this program have to be ready to work and listen. A lot of it is complex stuff, especially for international students. Anyone who wants to learn to be a better leader. A student who wants to learn how the world around them works and who wants to succeed in the increasingly global world that we find ourselves in.
Would non “leaders” benefit from this program?

Yes. Abbey Road’s Leadership Academy gives students the ability to analyze opinions and facts that you hear and take a more critical look at leaders in the world and decide where you fall into that.
What were your favorite non-academic activities on the program?
I loved visiting San Francisco every time we went there. The Giants game was a ton of fun and in one of the best stadiums in the Country and that’s coming from a guy who spends time at Fenway Park. Even walking around the city or going to see the MOMA was great. Also, the opportunity for college visits was great. I wouldn’t have gotten to see UC Santa Cruz or UC Berkley any other way.
How was the interaction between the program staff and the students?

[The staff] was fantastic and tons of fun to hang out with! They treated us like adults. They didn’t patronize us; they treated us as peers. They just made activities fun. For example, on the last night we decided we were going to have a barbeque in the frat house because we discovered there was a barbeque pit and it was the last night. They made that happen. It was a great way to end the program.
How was the residential life aspect? 
Living on campus for one thing was really neat. Getting an idea for what living on a campus would be was really cool. There is more freedom and it’s not as structured as high school. You have a class in the morning and then you have a break to do what you like. You can brush up on your reading for the next class or take some downtime and then head back to class. It was what I anticipate and hope college will be like.
Do you think participation on the program has given you an edge on the upcoming college experience?
I think this program gives you a better indication of what college is like. I also think colleges probably look favorably on the fact that in participating on a program like this you have some experience on a college campus taking college like classes with college like coursework.
Do you feel more independent having completed the program?
I do feel like more of an adult and more mature after being treated like one. I feel more confident in expressing my views about various issues especially political issues. Having a greater degree of independence in my daily activities while I was there also helped.

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