Smith spends semester at Focus Leadership Institute
April 04, 2010

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Junior Justin Smith joins a long line of Bryan students who have spent a semester of their college experience at the Focus Leadership Institute in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Justin described his Spring 2010 class as being made up of 53 students, ranging in age from 19-26, from 27 states.  "I've learned as much or even more from them than in the classroom. All of us came to FLI for different reasons. Some, for example, are here because they don't have anything else to do after graduating and are seeking direction. Others are here for very specific reasons, like mine, which is to learn how to be a godly husband and father."

Justin (front left) and his hiking buddies. Cabin mates pose for the camera.

Dr. Steve Bradshaw acted as Bryan's first FLI liaison from 1995 until 2006, at which time he turned over the responsibility to Dr. Randy Hollingsworth.  Dr. Bradshaw said that the majority of the students who have participated over the years have been psychology or communication studies majors.  Justin, however, is an exercise and health science major who plans on teaching after he graduates.
 

  
Justin said that the FLI classes are taught from a biblical perspective and focus on training college-age students how to influence their culture and to glorify God through the avenues of marriage, family, church, society, worldview, gender, and leadership.  He gave high praise to his professors, who "teach with passion and are extremely transparent with their lives. I think of them more as mentors than as teachers."  The spring semester coursework consists of five courses, including an internship at a job site related to each student's respective major.  Depending on the student's major, Bryan accepts the classes as either required course substitutions or electives. In addition federal, state and outside scholarships and grants transfer to help cover the cost.

Beyond the classroom, Justin says, "the activities and events are plentiful—skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, and hiking have been a part of nearly every week I've been here. The apartments we live in have a gorgeous view of Pike's Peak, and we are just a few minutes away from the Garden of the Gods."
 

 
Drs. Bradshaw and Hollingsworth agree that the FLI students they have seen go through the program are enthusiastic about "the experiences gained, the principles learned, and the friendships made—all of which have proved invaluable long after graduating from college." 

Justin still has a few more weeks left at the Institute, but this is how he describes his experience: "The most incredible aspect of my FLI semester is the people I've met here.  I've also gained a much more solid foundation for why I believe what I believe. And beyond acquiring new knowledge, I am also gaining bits of wisdom about how to be a better man of God.  Seeing men and women live out their lives outside the classroom in a godly and biblical manner is extremely refreshing. I have been so blessed to be able to attend the Institute, and I encourage anyone who is able to do so to take advantage of this priceless opportunity."