More than 250 high-achieving high school juniors from throughout Southern California came to Pepperdine University last month for the 33rd annual Youth Citizenship Seminar. Hosted by Pepperdine Chancellor Emeritus Charles B. Runnels, the event featured Los Angeles Dodger icon Tommy Lasorda, boxing great George Foreman, radio talk show host Dennis Prager, and television personality Ben Stein.
Runnels, the program’s founder, said the seminar’s aim is to inspire new interest and greater zeal in “the future leaders of America.”
“Today’s ambitious high school students are ready to expand their horizons,” Runnels said. “By listening to inspiring presentations, participating in interactive workshops, and communicating one-on-one with more than 20 world renowned speakers and leaders from all walks of life, these young people leave here better prepared to begin their own quest to make a positive difference in our world.”
Giving one of the most popular and inspiring presentations of the seminar was Lasorda, who urged the students to stay motivated and follow their dreams. Self confidence, he noted, is the first step to success. “You can do whatever you want in life, be whatever you want to be, if you just stick with it,” said Lasorda, citing as an example his lifelong desire to manage the Dodgers.
Each year, approximately 1,200 YCS applications are received from public and independent high schools throughout Southern California. The students selected to attend represent a wide variety of strengths through their scholastic, athletic, musical and theatrical accomplishments, and they collectively embody a unique desire to make a personal contribution to the nation’s future.
The YCS experience is the culmination of six months of planning, and operates on a budget of more than $300,000 in privately donated funds. Each of the participants is awarded a scholarship to attend; their tuition and on-campus expenses are funded by The Pilgrim Foundation, the YCS Committee of Endorsement, business leaders, and foundations throughout the country. The longevity of this event is the direct result of its founder’s ongoing belief in the leadership potential of today’s young people.