Lewis-Clark State College junior Donald (Stuart) Gillin has the drive and work ethic to succeed in life. To him, however, success isn’t measured in terms of status or wealth, but rather about making a difference.
And he’s doing his best to make a difference both in the world and in the lives of area youths.
Gillin is making the most of his LCSC education by being involved with the prestigious American Enterprise Institute, which describes itself as a nonpartisan public policy think tank dedicated to defending human dignity, expanding human potential, and building a freer and safer world. AEI is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and is home to some of the country’s top economists, legal scholars, political scientists, and foreign policy experts.
Gillin was accepted into the AEI student program after going through an application process that included a letter of recommendation from a professor as well as an interview. He was one of 20 college students from around the country to attend AEI’s spring honors weekend on entrepreneurship in Manhattan, N.Y., and then was one of 40 students to take part in the summer honors program in Washington, D.C., which focused on poverty policy.
Earlier this fall, Gillin was accepted into the AEI Executive Council program, which encourages its members to ensure arguments on every side of pressing public policy issues are heard by students at their campuses.
“I have learned so much,” Gillin says. “In addition to specific course material, I have learned how to have important difficult conversations with a very diverse group of people. I love that AEI does not have a party line. AEI is not worried about party politics but finding real solutions to big problems. AEI is committed to open diverse dialogue. “
Gillin says the AEI experience has been valuable to him as he continues his personal and professional growth.
“It has been crucial,” he says. “Through AEI I have started to build a network of current and recent college students all across the USA.”
Along with his involvement with AEI and attending LCSC full time, Gillin keeps himself plenty busy. He did a full-time internship with Potlatch #1 Federal Credit Union during the summer and he is a peer mentor at LCSC.
“I want to give back,” Gillin says about mentoring other students. “LCSC has been good to me. I want to ensure other students have the opportunity to be successful, enjoy their college experience, and grow as people.”
He also stays busy as a youth director at the Clarkston Presbyterian Church.
“I am the head of all youth ministry activities,” he says. “This requires intensive planning, vision casting, organizing, and allocating resources. Perhaps my favorite part is maintaining, managing and training the team of volunteers. It’s amazing. I love watching kids grow into the people they were created to be.”
Gillin was born in Lubbock, Texas and grew up in Walla Walla where he graduated from Walla Walla High in 2014. After a year at a private school in Washington state, Gillin transferred to LCSC in the fall of 2015. He is majoring in business administration and has goals of working for a business consulting firm after graduation.
He says he decided to transfer because of LCSC’s affordability. The college has the lowest tuition among Idaho’s four-year public institutions.
“I also have family in the area and my dad was student body president here,” Gillin says. “I love the personal attention you get from the professors.
“I love school,” Gillin says. “At this point in my life, my learning is the most important thing to me. College is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I am loving making the most of the opportunity and utilizing LCSC’s amazing professors to help me grow.”
Gillin says his favorite classes at LCSC thus far have been micro and macro economics with professor William Schlosser. “Dr. Bill was extremely engaged and the subject matter was relevant,” Gillin says.
“You will not find a better value than LCSC. Other schools may have flashier buildings, but at LC your tuition will go toward maximizing your learning and who you are as a person. I went to a more prestigious private school my freshman year and transferring to LC was one of the best decisions I ever made.”