Skip to Content
College of Arts and Sciences

Seton Hall Student Selected for Inaugural Leadership Program in Rome  

Image of student Jackalyn Ballard. As Jackalyn Ballard is wrapping up a busy academic year, she is preparing to attend the inaugural iteration of the Summer Leadership Development Program (SLDP) at the prestigious Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas in Rome. Ballard will be attending the week-long residential program with other emerging lay leaders of the Church from around the world. The program has been designed in collaboration “with Letty Garcia, associate director of the Leadership Initiative at Harvard Business School,” and it “will guide participants as they look at their own life journey through a spiritual lens and listen for their call to leadership and co-responsibility in the Church.” Participants will meet with Church leaders and will experience leadership formation in human, spiritual, and intellectual dimensions. The program will inspire and empower participants to bring what they have learned through the program back to their homes, parishes, and communities, ready to take on increasing responsibility in lay leadership in the Church. Those who attend will also join the network of scholars and professionals who contribute to the life of the Lay Centre, leading to opportunities for future collaboration. While the sessions in the program will be based on conversation and reading, guided visits to sites in Rome that are relevant to the topics of discussion will round out the experience.

Ballard, who has a triple major in International Relations, Religion, and Catholic Studies, was not only selected to attend the program but also awarded a full scholarship to attend. She is excited about the opportunities the experience will present to her and to those she will serve in her career. “Over the past three years of studying International Relations, I've expanded my passion of helping the world through diplomacy—but my studies in Religion and Catholic Studies have also helped me to see the need to be and bring Christ into this space,” she explained. “There is a deep need for lay leadership and female leadership in the Church, and I'm excited to take a step forward in discerning how the Lord is asking me to respond to that. I’m hoping that this opportunity will help me to understand what lay leadership looks like and to give me the tools to serve the Church, however and wherever the Lord calls. This program will be beneficial to my career, but my dream is that it will also give me deeper spiritual and personal formation.”

Ballard was selected for the program because of her dedication to ministry. Throughout her years at Seton Hall, she has volunteered and worked in a ministry setting. For two years, she was a Campus Ministry student worker, and she has volunteered as a Student Missionary for St. Paul’s Outreach for the past two years. Additionally, she has interned with the Sant'Egidio Foundation for Peace & Dialogue, a Catholic diplomacy organization. During the Spring 2023 semester, she interned with Religions for Peace, an interreligious NGO focusing on interfaith development and unity. Ballard said, “I think that my diversity of experience will bring a unique perspective into this program that I’m excited to share!”

“The Lay Centre is appreciated internationally and among people of many faiths for providing a place for dialogue and encounter,” said Ines Murzaku, Ph.D., Professor of Religion and Director of Catholic Studies Program. “Ballard has shown in her Catholic Studies courses, her internships, and her extensive volunteer experience that she is dedicated to advancing her understanding of lay leadership and putting this understanding into practice. Attending the SLDP this summer will be beneficial for her. She will contribute to fruitful discussions on lay leadership while she is in Rome. And finally, she will bring back to Seton Hall with her all that she has learned, and she will certainly share it with us during the Fall 2023 semester before her anticipated December 2023 graduation. This is wonderful for all of us!”

Categories: Faith and Service