Alumni Spotlight: Ford S.

How one alum’s summit experience inspired his fresh take on food drives.

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A note from Ambassador Leaders: Ford is one of our impressive student leaders who took what he learned during the Leadership in Action Summit at Harvard and got to work implementing his group’s community action plan at his high school, Brentwood School. This is his story.

I left the summit feeling amazing, wishing I could experience it all again.

This summer, I traveled from Sandersville, Georgia to Harvard University for an Ambassador Leadership Summit to represent my high school, Brentwood School, and enhance my leadership skills. With over 200 other student leaders from around the world, I participated in team building activities, was inspired by motivational guest speakers, and completed the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens workshop. While I was anxious initially, I left the summit feeling amazing, wishing I could experience it all again.

During the summit, my group and I worked to create our community action plan which aimed to partner with First Love Kids, a non-profit located in my home county dedicated to ending hunger. It was amazing to advocate for collaborating with an organization where I already volunteer and generate new ideas with my peers to help extend its efforts. The presentation gave us an opportunity to speak to other groups about the initiative we developed over the week, and I was able to tell others about my community: my church, my school, and First Love Kids.

Inspired by fellow Ambassador Leaders and the Lead2Feed curriculum, I asked my school staff to help me implement my community action plan and they agreed! The idea is simple: on the fourth Tuesday of every month, we collect fresh fruit so families already receiving food assistance have access to healthy produce. I partnered with First Love Kids and The Bread of Life Ministry, two groups providing hot meals or pantry staples to hundreds of families and seniors throughout our rural area.

So far, my food drive has collected enough fresh fruit for more than 175 people to receive bags of produce along with educational information about the benefits of healthy eating. I am using all the skills I learned from the Ambassador Leadership Summit and even using my group’s slogan, “The New Tradition is Good Nutrition.”

My path forward has never been clearer than it is after my experience with Ambassador Leaders.

The week I spent at the summit was truly a life-changing experience. Seeing the community’s positive reaction to my action plan has motivated me to make it grow. I’ve already begun brainstorming how my family’s trucking business, Howard Sheppard Incorporated, can efficiently deliver food to more hungry families in our community.

I follow a long line of state, community and business leaders, but my path forward has never been clearer than it is after my experience in Boston with Ambassador Leaders.

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By Ford Sheppard

Ford is an alum of the 2018 Ambassador Leadership Summit at Harvard University.