Academy Overview

The Opt4STEM Leadership Academy is a selective program designed to engage students in opportunities to develop knowledge and skills around leadership. Not only will students be able to explore their own interest in the field, they will also get to meet and interact with others who are interested in or actively participating in the leadership positions - from high school peers to undergraduate students, as well as professionals. Beyond the learning and self-development, successful completion of an Opt4STEM Academy is a tangible success that can be showcased on a resume or discussed in an interview. Students will be given the chance to create meaningful connections, try hands-on, real-world activities, and earn an award recognizing their hard work. This program is for Von Steuben students who are interested in developing into true leaders and inspiring the same in others. Selected students will be paired with an Illinois Tech undergraduate mentor and participate in:

4 Seminars

6 Workshops

1 Leadership Project


Accepted students will be expected to attend all scheduled sessions. For a schedule of events, click below.






“The Leadership Academy supplied me with tons of knowledge that helped me build confidence as a growing leader, and also pushed me to apply all that I've learned in order to be an amazing leader in the future.” (2015-2016 Leadership Scholar)


The Opt4stem Leadership Academy gave us some of the best experiences and opportunities. We were able to meet new people to teach us the importance of being a leader, but most of all, we were able to work together in a group successfully for a great cause. We went through many setbacks, but even through all of our challenges, we still had a very successful outcome. (ChildServ Project Team, 2017)







Eligibility: Von Steuben Juniors and Seniors are eligible to participate in the Opt4STEM Leadership Academy.


Application: Click the red buttons below to access the applications. In order to apply, both the Student Application and Parent Form must be submitted by Sunday, September 22, 2019.


Interview: After a review of applications, selected students will be invited to participate in a group interview at Von Steuben during the week of Monday, September 23 - Friday, September 27.  


Student Application and Parent Form are due Sunday, September 22, 2019





The Leadership Project


The Opt4STEM Leadership Academy Project was designed to give Von Steuben students a chance to apply what they learn in the Leadership Academy Seminars as they continue to grow as leaders and make real, measurable change in their communities.


Project Goals:
1) Learn about and grow in your leadership style, strengths, and weaknesses.
2) Gain applied leadership experience.
3) Develop strong relationships with peers and Illinois Tech mentors.


Project Parameters:
While these projects will be as diverse as the students who develop them, there are general guidelines each project must follow. Thus, the project must:

  • Be unique and meaningful. Although the project may be inspired by things you have seen before your project must be an original idea. Additionally, teams will need to justify why their project will have a meaningful impact.

  • Address a community problem. Projects need to address a real issue of concern in the community, not a minor inconvenience or irrelevant problem. Teams are encouraged to think about the various communities they are a part of from the Von Steuben community to the larger Chicago community.

  • Be a coordinated effort. Teams will need to work together and with Illinois Tech mentors to complete this project, allowing students the opportunity to actively lead a group towards the achievement of a shared goal. The project should not be completed by one or two people.

  • Benefit a group. Each project should be developed to impact a group. While the group does not have to be large, teams should avoid developing a project that benefits one person, even if they are deserving.


Previous Leadership Academy participants developed a variety of projects which can be viewed below. Click on the group's photo to see their poster and learn more about their experience in the Leadership Academy.  

Mentoring Cluster Students
Mentoring Cluster Students
Donation Drive for ChildServ
Donation Drive for ChildServ
Financial Literacy Workshop
Financial Literacy Workshop
Open Gym for Kids
Open Gym for Kids
Robot Workshop
Robot Workshop