Duane Bonifer  |   Published November 21, 2016

New Stockdale Fellows program

‘These are the cream of the crop – the leaders of the leaders’
  • The 2016 Stockdale Fellows
When Monmouth College student Alexis Brauer ’20 of Springfield, Ill., was in grade school, she was picked on a lot by a school bully.

But rather than retreating into a private world, Brauer used the experience to become a student leader so that she could reach out to others who felt marginalized.

“When I got older, I found a lot of joy in being able to take kind of a leading role in being able to get other people who might not be as confident and see them grow and turn into an outgoing and confident person,” Brauer said.

Brauer is one of 14 new student leaders at Monmouth who have been named a James and Sybil Stockdale Fellow. Named in honor of late Monmouth alumnus Vice Adm. James Stockdale ’46 and his late wife, Sybil, the program aims to develop student leaders through a mix of special leadership courses, community service and scholarship.

The Stockdale Fellows is the College’s most prestigious scholarship, leadership and enrichment program.

“These are the cream of the crop — the leaders of the leaders,” said assistant director of leadership development Jacob McLean ’15, who is the group’s adviser. “These are students who were high-achieving in high school — their list of accolades goes on to a second page. These are people who are ready to have an impact on the campus and in the community from Day One.”

The highest-ranking Navy officer held as a prisoner in North Vietnam, Stockdale was a prisoner of war for more than seven years, for which he received the Medal of Honor. Eleven years after he was freed from a Hanoi prison, the Stockdales published the extraordinary memoir In Love and War: The Story of a Family’s Ordeal and Sacrifice During the Vietnam Years.

The Stockdale Fellows program also includes several educational enrichment opportunities, including study-abroad opportunities, independent research, internships and specially funded entrepreneurial projects.

Brauer said those educational enrichment opportunities helped attract her to the program because she wants to study abroad while preparing for veterinary school after she graduates from Monmouth.

“I hope I learn even more to help me lead other people and make something out of this life, because you only get one,” she said. “I really enjoy interacting with the other fellows, who also want to make a difference in the world. It’s just an awesome opportunity to do that and surround yourself with others who want to do the same.”

That’s also what attracted Brian Steimel ’20 of DeKalb, Ill., to be a Stockdale Fellow.

“I wanted to be among a group of people who were excited to lead on campus,” he said. “A big problem nowadays is not having people who take initiative — people being afraid to stand up for various causes and pursue them to better the campus as a whole. I wanted to be part of a group of people who weren’t afraid of that.”

McLean said the program encourages students to be civically minded.

“The hope is they’ll have one huge legacy project that either shapes the campus or the community in some significant way,” he said. “We want them to build their leadership skills so they can attack some of the big problems that face our country and our world, and then think critically about how to solve those problems.”
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