Topeka, Kan. – The Washburn University Leadership Institute will welcome 200 high school and college students from five states February 29 - March 1 for the 14th annual Washburn University Leadership Challenge EventTM (LCETM). Some of these students are traveling from as far away as Virginia to join this annual two-day leadership competition. The LCE is the only event of its kind in the U.S., offering students a space to practice the leadership skills they will need when navigating challenges in the real world. 

“The Leadership Challenge Event is an experience unlike any other. I have participated in the event for three years – as a volunteer for two years and planning and overseeing the event this year, and not once has it lost its magic,” said Bella Wood, the 2024 LCE Fellow and a junior at Washburn University, majoring in Integrated Studies. “The experience is immersive and challenging in the best ways possible. We bring together people from across Washburn, Shawnee County and the larger United States to challenge our future leaders in a way that is unique. 

“Everyone who is involved learns something, and that must be the peak of an educational experience. Whether they are an advisor, a student, a volunteer or a speaker, everyone comes away with something. It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of.” 

The Leadership Institute has coordinated 170 campus and Topeka-area community volunteers, including participants from this year’s Leadership Greater Topeka class, who will serve as judges, role players and facilitators throughout the simulation competition. More than 60 Washburn University student volunteers will help manage the coordination and logistics for the event. Leadership Institute students have also raised more than $45,000 in sponsorships, including co-title sponsorships from the Capitol Federal Foundation® and Evergy. 

There are 40 teams participating this year – 13 college teams and 27 high school teams. Teams arrive Thursday, February 29, and will begin by visiting Washburn University. They will attend leadership orientation where participants will hear from a variety of community leaders on topics that will directly inform the simulation competition the following day. 

The leadership simulation will start at 8 a.m. Friday, March 1, at the Maner Conference Center, 1717 S.W. Topeka Blvd. Students will participate in planning and strategy meetings, written tasks and individual and team leadership decisions. During this time, they will interact with volunteers role-playing as community stakeholders invested in the crisis the students are solving. The simulation encompasses three rounds, all observed by judges who score participants’ leadership acumen on a variety of metrics, including a group presentation defending all their decisions at the conclusion of the exercises. 

Competition concludes with an awards ceremony at 3:45 p.m. in Heritage Hall in the Stormont Vail Events Center, One Expocentre Drive. Award sponsors and representatives from the Leadership Institute and Washburn University will recognize champions, second and third place winners in both the high school and college divisions. The Leadership Institute will give awards for exemplary communication, collaboration and transformation of performance from the beginning of the simulation until the end of the simulation. 


Editor’s Note:

(*=First Year participating)


College Participants:

- Arkansas Tech University (two teams)
- Christopher Newport University
- Cottey College
- Fort Hays State University
- Garden City Community College*
- Hampden-Sydney College*
- Kansas State University (two teams)
- Midland University
- Missouri Western State University
- University of Nebraska - Lincoln
- Webster University*


High School Participants:

- Arkansas City High School
- Bishop Seabury Academy (two teams)
- Central Heights High School*
- Derby High School
- Excelsior Springs High School* (two teams)
- Fort Scott High School
- Highland Park High School
- Northeast Magnet High School
- Northern Heights High School
- Rossville High School
- Santa Fe Trail High School*
- Seaman High School
- Shawnee Heights High School
- Shawnee Mission Northwest High School
- Silver Lake High School
- St. Marys High School
- Topeka High School
- Topeka West High School
- Turner High School*
- Washburn Rural High School
- Wellington High School
- West Franklin High School
- Wichita High School South
- Wichita Northwest High School
- Yates Center High School

For further information, contact:
Joy Bailes
Director of Internal Communications and Brand Management
Telephone: 785-670-2153
Cell: 785-230-1648



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