HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - More than 400 students from 22 schools across South Mississippi attended the 2nd annual Congressman Steven M. Palazzo Youth Leadership Summit at the University of Southern Mississippi Tuesday.
Students taking part were chosen based on their leadership qualities and characteristics.
Several influential Mississippians spoke about what it takes to be a good leader, including Apollo 13 astronaut and Biloxi native Fred Haise and Mississippi Supreme Court Associate Justice and Greene County native Randy G. Pierce.
"It's a main thing to keep focused on goals and to understand specifically what it takes qualification-wise, what they have to achieve to reach that goal and to work hard in making all that happen," said Haise.
"What I'm demonstrating to the kids is here's a person of average intelligence that, through hard work, has been blessed with great opportunities and so, that's my message," said Pierce. "Don't have an inferiority complex, wherever you are in life, you can pursue new dreams, new passions, even at 49-years-old," he said.
"What I've gotten out of everyone that's spoken so far is that a work ethic is critical to success," said Mitch Strider, a senior at Sumrall High School. "If nothing else, you just have to work for it and continue to push through," he said.
"(The summit is) really good because you make good connections with people from schools near you and schools by you that you never know if you're going to meet them in college or later on in life," said Liz Haney, a junior at Long Beach High School.
Others speakers included football official Sarah Thomas and Miss USM 2013 Hannah Roberts.