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Riley Institute names Emerging Public Leaders

The Riley Institute at Furman University has announced its 2016-17 class of Emerging Public Leaders (EPL). Launched in 2002 by the Riley Institute, EPL is an intensive, statewide service-oriented leadership program for rising high school seniors.

EPL has accepted 25 rising high school seniors from across South Carolina for its 14th class, bringing the total number of students who have participated in the program to 210.

The 2016-17 Riley Institute Emerging Public Leaders are:

Elizabeth Armstrong
St. Joseph’s High School

Abby Askins
AC Flora High School

Daniel Bacheschi
Southside High School

LaDeja Bell
Fairfield Central High School

Zay Ceasar
Kingstree High School

Jessica Cole
Chapin High School

LeAnne Davison
Wren High School

Mary DeVenny
Lancaster High School

Travis Dias
Wilson High School

Elizabeth Dunn
JL Mann High School

Caroline Farrell
James Island High School

Stephanie Gonzalez
Riverside High School

Varsha Gopal
Southside High School

Jennifer Griggs
Hartsville High School

Emma Grover
Christ Church Episcopal School

Brandon Jackson
Spring Valley High School

Bhumika Jakkaraddi
Southside High School

Tyrese Lawson
Scott’s Branch High School

Litzel Martinez-Garcia
Spring Valley High School

Olivia McGuirt
Mauldin High School

Catherine O’Leary
Chapin High School

Dipali Patel
Colleton County High School

Dennis Patterson
Spring Valley High School

Caroline Warren
Lowcountry Preparatory School
Pawleys Island

Lauren XU
SC Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities

Students will convene for a week on Furman University’s campus where they investigate topics such as engaging in the community, analyzing critical issues, practicing ethical leadership, developing communication and presentation skills, and planning for the implementation of a service project.

Thanks to a generous grant to EPL from the Duke Energy Foundation in response to last year’s Charleston shootings, the Riley Institute has increased its focus on diversity and has welcomed nine additional students to the program compared to previous years.

Following the summer, students work with Riley Institute staff, school officials, and residents in their communities to more fully develop their service project ideas and subsequently implement projects that reflect a need and address diversity in their communities.

The students return to campus the following spring to present their community service projects to a panel of judges, and the winning project receives funds for program expansion or replication.

Learn more about the Riley Institute’s Emerging Public Leaders program. Or contact program director Melanie Armstrong at the Riley Institute (864) 294-3546, or

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