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Five Hillsdale College stu­dents attended the Forge Lead­ership Academy earlier this month. Greg Bon­vissuto | Courtesy

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.