Institute for Leadership Impact

One Year Ago – High School Leadership Challenge at Institute for Leadership Impact

One year ago, the Institute for Leadership Impact hosted a half-day seminar for over 120 rural Texas high school students in the Upward Bound program.

ORS Upward Bound students at SMU
Students experience a virtual reality surgical simulation designed by Simmons and Guildhall faculty.

In April 2019, students from rural schools in Johnson County visited SMU as part of a federally-funded, college access program called Upward Bound.  Students from Venus, Alvarado, Rio Vista, and Keene were divided into teams and given the chance to brainstorm solutions for a real-world social challenge by pooling their knowledge and strengths.  We were excited to see the creativity and enthusiasm with which they approached the challenge and the ways that they supported one another’s efforts.

While on campus, students also participated in Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality simulations led by Simons faculty Dr. Tony Cuevas and learned about the diverse career opportunities in these fields.

ORS Upward Bound students visit SMU
A student engages with the Virtual Reality simulation.

Upward Bound is a federally-funded program that serves high school students from low-income families and families in which neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree.  SMU has supported underrepresented, first-generation college students through Upward Bound and college access programs for over 50 years, and is proud to welcome fellow Upward Bound students to campus.

Create Impact in Your Organization
The Institute for Leadership Impact serves schools and social impact organizations of all sizes.  We offer an array of experiential, individual and team-based leadership experiences and simulations to strengthen your team and support your growth as a leader.

To learn more about our programs, visit our website, email us at, and engage with us on Twitter.


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