Huntersville resident attends leadership academy

HUNTERSVILLE – A Pine Lake Preparatory student from Huntersville became one of just 304 students across the world to attend the Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy from Feb. 21 to March 7.

Arjun Kuttala didn’t expect to be chosen out of more than 2,000 applicants to attend the academy, which was held at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.

“It was really an honor,” Kuttala said. I learned a lot. There was a lot of fun and a lot of learning, mostly about leadership and teamwork.”

The program, designed to inspire high school students to pursue careers in science, engineering, technology and math, also had another local recipient. Davidson resident Andrew Swift, a Lake Norman Charter student, also was invited, but missed the event due to an illness.

Kuttala was surprised to get a chance to interact with students from 33 states and 38 countries while at the space center.

He took part in a zero-gravity simulator, a flight simulator and led his team on an emergency disaster scenario, which won Kuttala the academy’s critical thinking award.

For Kuttala – who said he plans to attend UNC-Chapel Hill or New York University to major in business and minor in marketing – the academy helped him hone his leadership skills.

“The chance to work in a group atmosphere and have the same set of goals you have to pursue really taught me about being part of a team and how to lead,” he said. “You had to be a cohesive team to be successful, but what I really enjoyed was the authenticity of it.

“You don't usually get to experience things like a flight simulator or work with a team to solve an emergency scenario. It was a lot of work, but it was really fun.”

Kuttala’s mother, Raji, said her son’s trip was a one-of-a-kind opportunity.

“We were very thrilled that he was chosen to participate,” she said. “They had kids from all over the world there. That in itself was such an experience for him.”