Midland College (MC) hosted the annual Midland Young Leaders Challenge with General
Tommy Franks on June 15 and 16, 2022. The two-day leadership development workshop
for students entering the 12th grade culminated in an awards ceremony at the Al G.
Langford Chaparral Center. Scholarships were presented to winners of several categories:
- Op Ed Writing -Lauren Haile, Legacy High School, $1,000 scholarship
- 1st-Place Speech – Andres Barbar Molera, Early College High School at Midland College,
- 2nd-Place Speech and Star Leader – Sophie Sharum, Trinity Midland High School, $1,000
scholarship for Speech and $3,000 scholarship for Star Leader award.
The workshop and scholarships are made possible by funding from Midland County, Henry
Foundation and Warren Charitable Foundation. Each summer Midland College hosts the
workshop, based on the Four-Star Leadership principles developed by U.S. Army four-star
General (ret) Tommy Franks. General Franks is a Midland native who led the attack
on the Taliban in Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq and overthrow of Saddam
Hussein. The Midland workshop is coordinated by staff from Midland ISD and from the
General Tommy Franks Leadership Institute and Museum in Hobart, OK.
“It is an honor for MC to host the Midland Young Leaders Challenge,” MC President,
Dr. Steve Thomas said. “Part of Midland College’s mission is to focus and improve
‘quality of place,’ and that is exactly what this program does—provide an opportunity
for youth to develop leadership skills in order to serve our community and beyond.”
During the workshop, students participate in presentations and discussions with community
leaders from education, government and business. The students also participate in
a persuasive speech contest, and one student receives the chance to attend the Four-Star
Leadership Institute in Oklahoma. Sophie Sharum was this year’s Four-Star winner.
“Participating in this program was the best decision I made this summer, as it allowed
me to grow in ways that I never believed were possible,” Sharum said. “I cannot even
begin to share everything I learned through this program, but perhaps what impacted
me the most is that I learned true leaders are willing to sacrifice their own comfort
for the sake of others. I now have a better understanding of what it means to be
a leader, and I will apply this knowledge to benefit my community as best as I can
During the Four-Star Leadership Institute, Sharum received an additional $2,500 in
scholarships, winning Honorable Mention for her workbook and serving on the winning
team for the Ethics Bowl. She plans to apply to several colleges, including the The
University of Texas at Austin, Rice University, Dartmouth College and Harvard University.
She will pursue a degree in Computer Science and hopes to become a software engineer.
Sophie is a member of the Trinity varsity volleyball and track teams and enjoys playing
the piano, performing in musicals and participating in band and choir.
Photo: Sophie Sharum giving speech at Midland Young Leaders Challenge Awards Ceremony,
June 16, 2022