Sarah Van Horn and Katie Brown represented Cottey College during the 33rd Annual Missouri Governor’s Student Leadership Forum on Faith and Values held February 14-16, 2020, in Jefferson City, Missouri. They were two of 98 collegiate students nominated to attend.

The forum challenges students’ character development by encouraging them to reflect on their own decision-making skills, values, and belief systems. Students learn about how to reconcile relationships, stand for truth, and love others as they love themselves. The forum’s guiding principle is teaching students to embrace altruism rather than egotism.

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft welcomed students to the annual forum that was created by his father, former Missouri Governor and 79th U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. Students began the day having breakfast with Governor Mike Parson and First Lady Teresa Parson at the Missouri Governor’s Mansion.

Students heard from several speakers who lead by example, including Rebecca Welsh, founder of HALO, a non-profit organization supporting homeless and at-risk children; John Stroup, minister at Freeway Ministries who devotes his life to helping individuals overcome life struggles; Freda Boateng, Senior Administrative Assistant for Admissions and Financial Aid at New York Law School and a freelance poet; Ramesh Balayar, Professor of Global Resources, Poverty, Sustainable Development and Environmental Sociology at Iowa State University; Bob Priddy, retired news director of Missourinet; Lethia Owens, author and branding expert; and Missouri State Representatives Kevin Windham and Travis Fitzwater.