Shoemaker sophomore gains leadership skills

SHS sophomore Vanessa Van Dorn shares with S2S peers.
By: Todd Martin

A Shoemaker High School sophomore already focused on leadership and service returned from a select training experience at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with plans to make a thriving Student 2 Student group even better.
Vanessa Van Dorn joined 11 sophomore and junior peers from six states and two countries at the Military Child Education Coalition Frances Hesselbein Student Leadership Program.
She shared her experiences Tuesday during the regular meeting of Shoemaker’s S2S group, an MCEC-based organization that helps peers transitioning into the school.
Though confident in her normal surroundings, Van Dorn acknowledged that flying to the U.S. East Coast and traveling to New York City and West Point with a dozen people she didn’t know was intimidating.
“I thought I would keep to myself,” she said to her classmates during a lunchtime meeting. “Now, those people are some of my best friends.”
First, the group members representing six U.S. states and the nation of Germany met with Hesselbein in her New York office.
Now 104 years old, the prolific author and former Girl Scouts of the USA CEO continues to operate her own leadership institute.
Van Dorn described a remarkably healthy and alert woman who shared with students the importance of finding a passion in life and surrounding yourself with people who share that passionate pursuit.
“She believes the people around her led to her success,” the student explained.
The 12 student leaders spent most of the week, October 20 to 25 on the West Point campus in team-building sessions, networking, meeting cadets and sharing ideas.
“I have a lot to bring back to our group,” she said, “to help connect better and make our program better.”
Shoemaker High School counselor and S2S advisor Yvonne Cox said Van Dorn made an immediate impact on the school last year as a freshman. She attended a summer leadership session in Washington, D.C. with two other SHS students.
“I was already a leader on the campus and I knew I could make an even bigger difference,” she said, explaining her motivation to go to the training at West Point. “We have a big impact here because we have so many new students.”
Shoemaker High School is located in west Killeen and is the closet high school campus to Fort Hood.
“It was nerve racking at first to join 11 people I didn’t know,” she said following her presentation, “but we got super-close quickly. We were together for a week and it was clear we were all on the same page.”
The intense leadership training urged students to set goals for their S2S chapters, a process Van Dorn said she is still completing and looks forward to integrating into the Shoemaker group.
“S2S is a big family,” she said. “It’s something I’ve really based my high school experience on. We help students set a foundation when they start and we build connections together.”
The group, which meets every week, plans student mixers on and off campus, checks up on peers new to the school and organizes and conducts service projects and other activities.