Thomas Nelson Community College’s Elizabeth Axberg will be among 50 Virginians joining 100 emerging leaders from around the world for five days of leadership development and networking at the Global Pathfinder Summit.
President of Thomas Nelson’s Student Government Association (SGA), Axberg will spend May 20-24 at the University of Virginia (UVA) in Charlottesville gaining perspectives, strategies, and tools necessary to create sustainable change in local and global communities. Axberg, who is majoring in social science with a specialization in education, will connect with other civically-engaged youth from around the world to focus on important topics such as the impact of youth movements on global challenges, civic education, and the state of global democracy today.
The Global Pathfinder Summit is a signature event of American Evolution, Virginia’s 400thanniversary Commemoration in partnership with the Presidential Precinct (the restored homes of U.S. presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe, all near Charlottesville) and the grounds of the UVA.
Having attended several leadership conferences in Virginia since joining SGA, Axberg is grateful for yet another learning experience.
“It’s an opportunity to go and learn. Last year, Madeleine Albright was there. Just the thought of somebody like her with that much knowledge to give you (being) at a place like that … it’s just something I would not want to pass up,” she said, noting that she learned about the summit during a College Council meeting and was encouraged to apply.
She is excited about hearing from the summit’s cadre of internationally-renowned speakers, participating in its interactive workshops, exploring the community service engagement it will afford and more. She hopes to leave the conference with fresh “perspective” – a different take on things to complement or enhance projects she has in mind for SGA.
“The best part of any conference is going and meeting other people who are in similar positions as you and learning how they handle the things they go through versus how you do it,” she said. “Sometimes you think that you’re doing things one way and it’s the only way. Then, you see another person doing it differently and they have a lot more to give. So, the things that I have planned … if I can make them better, that will be great.”
Kadisia Archer, Thomas Nelson’s SGA advisor and Student Life and Leadership coordinator, will accompany Axberg in Charlottesville. She is delighted that this opportunity came about for the outgoing 20-year-old Hampton resident.
“I hope she will gain tools and experience that will allow her to continue her growth as a leader and that it will encourage her to create sustainable change within the College … something we can do that also allows our students to impact communities in Thomas Nelson’s service area in a meaningful way,” said Archer.
Archer encouraged Axberg to take on the SGA presidency and is pleased with her service in the role. She recalled meeting Axberg and seeing her leadership potential when the determined SGA officer went about creating an Ornithology Club.
“I saw that she took initiative in growing the club. She went through our Student Life and Leadership processes, got them up and running, chartered, and followed through on everything that was necessary. She attracted students to join and had a good group,” said Archer.
“She would also come in my office to volunteer. She assisted with special projects and did things she was asked to do without needing a whole lot of managing. She is dedicated, committed and she’s a people person - but not in an intrusive way,” said Archer. “She has attracted a lot of attention to SGA and created a very welcoming atmosphere for students. Usually this time of year, SGA kind of tapers off given exams. But students are still coming by the office to join, and that’s very encouraging.”
That’s good news for Axberg. Getting her peers more engaged in SGA and participatory in the overall Thomas Nelson experience is among her goals. In addition to forming the Ornithology Club, she is working alongside 12 other interested students to get a Mycology Club up and running at the College. Her other campus and community endeavors include membership in the Student Virginia Education Association and the Science and Engineering Student Association as well as volunteering at Joint Base Langley Eustis in its USO and Airman’s Attic.
The aspiring biology teacher, who moved to the region with her mother and retired Air Force father after completing high school in 2016 in Stuttgart, Germany, plans to transfer to the University of Mary Washington and ultimately wants to obtain a master’s degree in secondary biology education.