Inaugural Class Announced for SUPER 20, a Leadership Development Program for Underrepresented High School Sophomores

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The diverse class of ten Iowa students will receive leadership development, scholarships, and coaching to help them find and fulfill their purpose in college and in their careers.

These students not only are exceptional academic achievers, but they are service-oriented, ambitious, and creative individuals who demonstrated their desire to be future leaders and make a positive impact locally, nationally, and even internationally.

Ten current high school sophomores have been selected for SUPER 20, a new high school leadership program that focuses on four key pillars: leadership; diversity equity and inclusion; service; and college readiness. The program provides an online curriculum with academic and career coaching from professionals as well as a $5,000 scholarship to any college of their choice.

The SUPER 20 program was launched in October 2020 by higher education firm Ruffalo Noel Levitz (RNL) in response to the national social justice movements calling for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion. The program follows the definition of historically underrepresented college students including students who are low-income, first generation, minority, LGBTQ+, and those underrepresented in specific programs and majors. For its inaugural year, the program was open to high school students from Iowa, with plans to expand the program nationally within the next decade.

The ten SUPER 20 students have tremendous academic achievements along with a diverse set of backgrounds, educational interests, and career aspirations. They come from high schools in both urban and rural locales from around Iowa, and several are first-generation students who will be the first in their families to attend college.

“We could not be prouder of the students who will be our first SUPER 20 class,” said Dr. Sumit Nijhawan, president and CEO of SUPER 20, Inc. “These students not only are exceptional academic achievers, but they are service-oriented, ambitious, and creative individuals who demonstrated their desire to be future leaders and make a positive impact locally, nationally, and even internationally.”

The SUPER 20 students will participate in a two-week leadership program in June and July 2021 (held virtually to maximize the safety of the students due to the pandemic), with follow-up sessions planned at key points during the students’ junior and senior years of high school. In addition, SUPER 20 Coaches—successful professionals who have volunteered to share their insights and knowledge with the students—will participate in program activities to help students increase their academic and professional development.

“These students have been an inspiration for all of us involved in SUPER 20,” said Ann Oleson, senior vice president for SUPER 20, Inc. “Throughout the entire process, they have shown maturity, drive, empathy, and dedication—all qualities that make great leaders. We are excited to kick off our first year with this incredible group of students and look forward to growing SUPER 20 into a nationwide leadership program that increases diversity among the leaders of tomorrow.”

Leaders and organizations from across the state have jumped on board to support the SUPER 20 program, including sponsors from: RNL, Bankers Trust, Mercy Medical Center, Alliant Energy and Lil’ Drug.

To learn more about the SUPER 20 class and support/sponsorship of these students, visit RuffaloNL.com/SUPER20.

About SUPER 20
SUPER 20, Inc., is a high school leadership program for underrepresented high school sophomores, including racial/ethnic minorities, first-generation students, students from underprivileged backgrounds, and students in underrepresented majors. The program helps students find their purpose and career paths through leadership development, coaching from successful professionals, and college scholarships. The curriculum and activities focus on four pillars: Leadership; Service; Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and College Readiness. SUPER 20 was launched in 2020 by RNL, the leading provider of higher education enrollment, student success, and fundraising solutions.

SUPER 20, Inc., is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit with the Iowa Secretary of State.

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Brandon Trissler
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