Spotlight on Success
The Bill of Rights Institute engages, educates, and empowers tens of thousands of inspiring students, alumni, and educators each year and we want to share their amazing stories with YOU! Please read through our current Spotlights (below) and browse our past Spotlights (click “more” above) for additional examples of the great work happening in classrooms, homes, and communities across the country!
Know a student, educator, or Institute alumni that should be featured? Nominate them here!
Constitutional Academy 2016, Constitutional Connection, National Honor Society, Service Learning Academy (SLA) participant.
Gillianne attends Poudre High School in Fort Collins Colorado, and is actively involved in her school community. Her time after school is spent volunteering at an elementary school twice a week, cross country mountain biking, and competing in speech and debate. As a standout student, Gillianne was accepted to the Institute’s 2016 Constitutional Academy. Institute staff described Gillianne as, “a soft-spoken leader who is thoughtful and kind-hearted.”
Reflecting on Constitutional Academy, Gillianne describes the experience as one that exposes students to an array of viewpoints. She notes that, “she had never been presented with an environment like that before.” In addition to the diverse thought present at the academy, Gillianne highlighted the tremendous opportunity that Constitutional Academy provided her as it connected her with resources and programs from around the nation.
During the academy, Gillianne highlighted the importance of having a basic understanding of American founding principles. “I now place a lot more value in the ability of the individual to accomplish things, and I think that society functions best when the government has a minimal role in our lives.” Gillianne believes that having this knowledge and awareness of the American founding gives her a greater appreciation for the freedoms America provides.
Gillianne will be graduating from high school in 2018, and plans to attend college and major in political science and communications. She is also working toward becoming fluent in Spanish with the goal of pursuing study abroad programs while in college. After college, Gillianne would like to work in the political sphere, preferably as a press secretary or as a speech writer.
Honors: University Honors Society, Engineering Honors Society, VP of Programming for Texas A&M University Community Council, Aggie Pitch Challenge Finalist
William Connor McCanless is a freshman at Texas A&M University majoring in Mechanical Engineering. He participated in the Aggies Challenge, which engages students with hands on projects that push their innovation, creativity, and communication skills. William and his team were received honorable mention and was awarded funding to continue developing their project. William has also served his community as the VP of Programming for his University’s Community Council which earned him “the best students on campus” award.
William participated in the Institute’s “We the Students” essay contest and attended Constitutional Academy in 2016. At Constitutional Academy, he was voted “Most Patriotic Student” by his peers. Thinking back on the Academy, William said “my experiences with the Institute, especially the Academy, have been stellar. There are so many great and wonderful people at the Institute who are willing to help you learn about the Constitution, government, debate, and how to respect different point of views.” William feels that Constitutional Academy has expanded his horizons, giving him exposure to opportunities such as government jobs and internships.
William holds the United States Constitution and our nation’s Founders in high regard. He views them as, “extraordinary gentlemen that recognized that man is supposed to be governed by laws, not by man, if they are to live a free live from oppression.” In addition, William “strongly believes in inalienable rights” and views the government as the protector of individual rights. William sees constitutional government as the best way to secure the blessings of liberty and property.
After completing his Mechanical Engineering degree at Texas A&M University, William hopes to start his own business as a venture capitalist, which will allow him to innovate and invest in other people’s ideas and businesses. His goal in life is to benefit other people.
November 2016 – Michael Rohlin
VFW Citizenship Teacher Award for Western New York
While new to The Institute’s programs, Michael Rohlin has already proven himself to be a dedicated educator. The first clue was when he drove several hours from Mayville, New York to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to participate in BRI’s “Congress: The First Branch and the Constitution” .
While attending this seminar, it was clear to everyone that Michael was eager to contribute during the discussion groups. His enthusiasm was inspiring and infectious.
When asked about the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, the first word that came to Michael’s mind was “passion.” He believes that this passion for the founding documents of our nation drives him to engage his students with lessons and activities centered around these key documents. To facilitate student learning, Michael told us that he consistently uses BRI’s resources to help his students better understand our nation’s founding.
Michael discusses the importance of the Constitution with his students and helps them learn about the founding documents through a focus on the inner-workings of the government. His goal is to ensure that everyone leaves his classroom with a basic understanding of the roles of each branch of our government and how they currently operate in our modern world.
This award-winning teacher considers his most satisfying accomplishments when students remark that his class has helped them to better understand our government; and also the times thatMichael is contacted by a former student seeking to gain more knowledge.
Beyond the classroom, Michael speaks with the parents of his students about encouraging their children to become involved in community and civic activities. Many of his current and former students are now engaged as young citizens working to change the world in their own community.
Our staff is grateful for Mr. Rohlin’s participation as a newcomer to The Institute’s programs. We certainly look forward to seeing him again at future seminars and Institute sponsored colloquia!