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World takes notice of Franks Leadership Institute in Hobart as destination for unique experiences, learning

HOBART  Seventy of the top young leadership candidates from across the globe were in Hobart Wednesday as part of the General Tommy Franks Leadership Institute and Museum's Four Star Leadership program.

The weeklong leadership-building curriculum attracts hundreds of teenage applicants from every corner of the world, but only 70 are selected each year. The 2017 class included teenagers from the United States, South Korea, Jordan, Germany and France. One future leader hailed from right here in Southwest Oklahoma  in Hobart, to be exact.

"This is something I've always looked forward to and wanted to attend," said Hobart native Sonia Coffin. "I always looked up to the kids that were older than me and were going through this and I knew that was something I wanted to do when I was old enough."

Coffin's dream was realized  after a tremendous amount of hard work to be approved. The application process started with a standard application, which needed a letter of recommendation. Then she had to undergo an interview process. Once program members had decided they had sen all they needed to see of her, she had to fill out more paperwork and applications before she ultimately received her acceptance letter. Was it worth the hassle? Coffin thought so.

"It was a lot of work, but I think every bit of it was worth it to be here today, a part of this," she said. 

Nikki Jones, programs director for the leadership institute and museum, said the Four Star Leadership program is designed to recruit the best young future leaders in the world and to give them the tools to become even better leaders. The students spend the week meeting with various leaders of their fields from science to politics to economics. They attend workshops that help them build their leadership skills and where they take the knowledge bestowed upon them by the speakers and put that to practice. By the time they complete the program, Jones hopes they will be improved citizens who can then take what they've learned back home.

"We want them to take the leadership skills they acquire here back to their communities to use them now and to help them in the future in their careers, so that they may be our leaders of the future," Jones said. 

The students just don't go home with new leadership skills. They also will take a share of $15,000 in scholarships. Some, like Logan McDonald, of Louisville, Ky., return in future years as counselors to guide the new students. 

"I can see what I went through as a student in what they're going through now," he said. "It's great because it gives me a different look at the program from someone who's been through it and is now here to help others. I get to experience it from both sides."

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