Even at the young age of 17, Nicolas Seijo already is being recognized as a leader among his peers.
The Cartersville High senior participated in the Dale Carnegie for Young Adults: Generation.Next course for ages 14-18 June 6-8 at the Dale Carnegie of Georgia training center in Atlanta, and a vote by his peers won him the Highest Award of Achievement for his class.
The program is the "famous Dale Carnegie program Effective Communications and Human Relations Course — 8 million adult graduates worldwide — facilitated in terms of a teenager’s world," said Wendy Johnson, president and CEO of Dale Carnegie of Georgia.
"The program develops the right skills for relationships with parents, siblings, peers, teachers [and] bosses and works on helping the teen set goals and hold themselves accountable," she said.
The achievement award is presented at the end of the program to the student who "demonstrates the most intention and focus in learning and demonstrating the skills and behaviors that are taught in the course," Johnson said.
"This award winner showed great leadership by exhibiting the new behaviors and became a 'model' of leadership to the class," she said, noting the winner is chosen by the class members. "Those behaviors were courage, self-confidence, leadership, commitment, compassion for others and public speaking. The winner is presented a certificate [that] will hold great weight as an accomplishment on their college application and resume."
Seijo received his framed certificate from Diane Vinyard, senior sales consultant and trainer for Dale Carnegie, during a presentation attended by his parents, Kim and David Seijo, and teachers David Matherne and Melissa Moore Aug. 6 at CHS.
"Honestly, I was really happy to receive it," he said. "It means so much to me that my friends would vote for me on this, and I feel truly honored by their choice. I’m excited to see how this can help my future and grant me new opportunities."
The Cartersville resident said he was allowed to choose where he wanted to receive his award, and he selected his school because it's "an important place to me."
"I’ve been able to learn so much from teachers and students there as well as the school shaping a lot of my identity," he said. "I want others who go to that school to see that there is nothing that we students can’t do."
Seijo said he found out about Generation.Next from his grandfather and "did some independent research on it as well."
"I’d always heard about it from my grandpa, and I realized how much of a boon it would be to my future professional career by getting involved with it early," he said. "I realized the benefits of such a course and also drew inspiration from other successful people such as Warren Buffet."
Through eight highly interactive, three-hour sessions that include real-life scenarios and role-playing, young people learn skills they'll need to achieve their goals and to perform to their full potential at school, home and work, according to the Dale Carnegie website.
The course focuses on five key areas that are critical for future success — Building Self-Confidence, Enhancing Communication Skills, Interpersonal Skill Development, Effective Attitude Management and Teamwork and Leadership Skills.
During the three-day course, the 40 students did numerous activities designed for "pushing us towards the various leadership skills we were being taught," Seijo said.
"One of the activities I remember most was sharing an impact point in our lives, where I was able to share my experience as a missionary to the Dominican Republic," he said, noting he "got to know all" the participants and still talks to some of them.
Seijo said he learned "some brand-new essential leadership skills as well as a jump-start into my future." "By learning and honing leadership skills early in life, I will have a lot of time to polish it and improve on it," he said. "In addition, I will be able to effectively lead in a multitude of situations."
But those weren't the only benefits he received from taking the course.
"I learned some very important things about connecting with others, although perhaps the most important lesson I learned was about learning to listen more than you speak," he said. "Simply listening to someone can advance a conversation farther than constant talking."
Seijo said participating in the program was "an excellent choice" for him.
"I learned skills that will forever impact my future," he said. "I cannot recommend it enough."