Riley Johnson

I found that in my favorite and most memorable discussions, I asked the most questions. 


Why did you attend the program?

My relationships with mentors and leaders started to take early form around middle school. Their insight and guidance in my decision making through high school led me through times of challenges to good, healthy living. Being a very relational person, I wanted to explore the type of lifestyle I want to aim for and explore how God fits into the plan, all in a small setting with inspiring people and experienced leaders around me. 

I attended Trailhead during the summers of my junior and senior years when applying for colleges was in full swing. I was torn between a couple of schools and was being sold different academic paths that I did not know how to navigate. Besides seeking guidance from the faculty that was made available to me, I looked forward to questioning the Westmont student leaders because I was interested in their experience at college.


How was your experience during the event? 

Trailhead was different from any summer camp I attended because I only knew one person going into it. Before we made the trip to Santa Barbara, our mentors from home encouraged us to spread our wings and pursue the other students attending. It was awkward at first, but after an evening of ice breakers and a full day together the community I hoped to find was there. We shared a lot of laughter and fun. 

Trailhead was moving because it was the first time my thinking was called to a higher level in our discussions. The questions and thoughts we were guided through seemed big, but the best part was the small conversations we had between breaks with the speakers and student leaders. They encouraged us to step out of our comfort zones and were not satisfied with, “I don’t know.” We were engaged and our thoughts were vocalized and heard. Those were the moments when I felt my eyes open and my perspectives change.


What was the best thing about attending?

The Trailhead experience is best enhanced when its participants are curious and willing to ask questions. Not only does this add to the depth of information discussed, but it also tailors the conversation to the audience. I found that in my favorite and most memorable discussions, I asked the most questions. 

My favorite talk was on Game Theory led by Professor Manlapig. I enjoyed strategizing and trying to outwit my partners in a simulation he set up. He explained all of the different choices we could make and the different outcomes that could occur. The greater the number of points won, the greater the risk of losing all of your points. 

This paradox really upset me because I wanted to win, but I didn't want to risk it. I remember asking him why people did not make the other choice, which was to split the rewards evenly. He explained that the option did sound ideal; however, no one would win and you can't always guarantee that your competitor will work with you. Well, I didn't believe in my ability to convince my competitor to work with me, so I took risks and ended up losing a lot of points. The experience was a small part of my decision to attend Westmont, and today Professor Manlapig is one of my teachers and academic advisors in college.

Frank Stanley
Atlanta, GA
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St. Meinrad, IN
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Waco, TX
Trey Phillips
Nashville, TN
Eric Johnson
St. Peter, MN