This past winter break, several Hillsdale students attended the Forge Leadership Network in Washington, D.C.
The network provides a venue for young adults ages 18 to 25 to gain a deeper understanding of politics, modern culture, and business through trainings, speakers, and career preparedness.
Several Hillsdale students have attended Forge Leadership summits over the years, including five attendees this past January 6 – 10. Lucy Meckler, Greg Bonvissuto, Alexis Nester, Bryce Asberg, and Frank Vitale attended the Forge Academy, also known as Forge 201.
Bonvissuto said he appreciated hearing from all the different speakers, particularly several Congressmen.
“Congressmen Meadows and Jordan encouraged us to continue pursuing our goals and emphasized the importance of being a servant-leader,” Bonvissuto said. “Their insight was valuable and inspiring.”
Forge focuses on training students to make an impact across the culture, not just in religious or conservative circles.
“My favorite speaker at 101 was Stephanie Gray, a pro-life speaker who argued against abortion using only logical and scientific arguments,” said Meckler. “This appealed to me because I am not yet a Christian, and she concluded that abortion was wrong without the use of religious language.”
Founded in 2015 by Adam Josefczyk and Justin Powell, the program attracts young conservative college students and graduates from across the United States.
“I had heard about the Forge Leadership Network from some friends and then one of the co-founders, Adam Josefczyk, was on campus last year at a dinner hosted by YAF and Career Services,” sophomore Bryce Asberg said. “I was impressed with what he had to say and what Forge Leadership had to offer.”
Bonvissuto also learned about the Forge through the same dinner last year. He estimated that Forge 101 had about 80 to 90 participants while Forge 201 had nearly half that number.
“I’d say that I enjoyed the second program more because it was a smaller group,” Bonvissuto said.
“The other programs build on the Forge 101 summit,” Asberg added. “It gets better as you go because you get to know the people better and better.”
A large portion of the 201 program is the mentorship aspect. Following the week in D.C., Forge Fellows are paired with an older mentor in their field of study to assist them in finding internships or jobs. Additionally, they help teach mentees how to network and make lasting connections in their respective field.
Meckler applied and was accepted to the Forge 301 program which will give her the opportunity to go to Israel with Passages, a program sponsored by the Philos Project and the Museum of the Bible Foundation.
Coming from a Christian background, Asberg found that the Forge program had “a well balanced perspective about how a Christian should engage in politics.”
“Forge and its speakers recognize that politics doesn’t save anyone’s soul,” Asberg said. “Only the gospel can do that.”
“I came away with a greater appreciation for the fact that a free society such as ours is incredibly complex,” Bonvissuto said.
All three participants highly recommend the program to Hillsdale students regardless of their major.