Returning Scholars

About Transformative Leadership

Our Senior (returning) Scholars have learned to recognize their role in challenging injustice, deconstructing and reconstructing systems, and “moving the needle” in a positive direction for equitable change, committing to practice this throughout their time in the Oaks and beyond. Senior Scholars return to the program to deepen their learning, further develop their leadership skills, and continue to promote and advance this learning community.

Click each link below to learn more about what we do!

Action – Based Project

When Scholars return to The Oaks, their projects take a deeper dive into using the skills they’ve gained, and the new ones they are learning. While some Scholars choose a different topic than their first-year project, others decide to expand on what they have previously done. We love to see how a project can change over time, and we enjoy watching great relationships form from the Scholar’s collaborations at NCSU and in the community.


The Senior Scholars are given a specifically curated reading list designed to extend the knowledge and skills they built in their first year. Scholars are challenged by contemporary literature in leadership and justice & equity. These readings are discussed during mentor meetings as well as weekly cohort meetings.

Senior Scholars have read and re-read (and re-read again!) the following books:

  • Intersectionality by Dr. Ange-Marie Hancock
  • Transformative Leadership by Dr. Carolyn M. Shields
  • How to be An Anti-Racist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi

Senior Scholars also have the opportunity to leverage the Oaks Library and select further reading that speaks to their individual interests.

  • Women, Race, & Class by Angela Davis
  • Class Matters by The New York Times
  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
  • The Right Side of History by Adrian Brooks
  • Decolonization by Dane Kennedy
Cohort Workshops

Senior Scholars have the opportunity to continue their learning in our cohort sessions by serving as learners but sometimes also as co-instructors. Senior Scholars have the opportunity to continue their learning in their own sessions, tackling more advanced material, readings, and issues. Other times, Senior Scholars will join our faculty as co-instructors, assisting with the introductory sessions for the first year scholars, giving them a chance to learn the materials in new ways, and applying it as instructors!


Our excursions are some of the best parts of the Oaks Leadership Scholars program. In addition to being able to attend the excursions with our first year Scholars, senior Scholars have an additional opportunity to interface with local and national leaders during the spring semester. Prior to poster presentation day, Senior Scholars meet with officials to discuss current issues and events happening in North Carolina and the nation.


Senior Scholars have the chance to develop close relationships with their faculty mentors through many coffee shop meetings, dinners, and Zoom brainstorming sessions as they work to achieve their program goals, dissect and debrief what they’re learning and how they are applying it in and outside of the program. Senior Scholars also become mentors for First Year Scholars, often offering valuable project advice, helping Scholars prepare for sessions and excursions.

The Advance

In the Oaks, we don’t retreat…we advance. The Oaks Advance is a two-day event that includes both first-year scholars and senior scholars. During this event, the Scholars will discuss the pillars of the Oaks program: transformative leadership, allyship, advocacy, activism, intersectionality, and the deconstruction/reconstruction of systems.

Senior Scholars assist with First Year Scholar learning sessions and then have a chance to take a deeper dive when they break off to their own sessions to refine their skills in networking, developing community, and project planning. Senior Scholars also lead both formal and informal activities throughout the