Vir Menon, a Christopher Newport University (CNU) freshman from India participating in the President’s Leadership Program (PLP), gives us first-hand insight on what you will learn, see and experience as an international student at this outstanding institution.   


Discovering a Love For Sailing and Realising His Goals

Vir Menon is 19 years old and from Bangalore, India where he was born and raised. He began sailing at the young age of 6 and quickly fell in love with the sport. His father bought him his first boat soon after, and he has been competing ever since.

Vir is working hard towards his goal of competing in the Tokyo Olympics 2020, sailing in the Laser Class. He is a 3-time youth national champion in the Laser Class in India. Vir was recruited to be on the CNU Sailing Team by Coach Max Plarr and after visiting the college campus, he applied for Early Decision admission. Due to the integration of sports into collegiate programs in the United States, Vir realized he could receive a world-class education while also continuing his athletic training.   

Sailing Into CNU and Newport News, Virginia

“I was completely mind-blown the first time I stepped onto the CNU campus. Before that, I had only seen pictures from the website and the real thing went beyond my expectations!” Vir exclaims.

With a passion for history, Vir is considering a major in American History with the hope of later pursuing law or government studies. His subject of choice could not be studied in a more apt location - Newport News, Virginia is just 30 minutes away from Jamestown (the first permanent English settlement in America), Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown, famously known as the Historic Triangle.

Focused on offering students stellar academic and cultural opportunities, Christopher Newport University offers students the opportunity to dream big in a safe and encouraging environment.  “CNU is small enough that you can develop fantastic friendships and express your individuality to the fullest, yet it is also big enough that it offers virtually every academic course you can think of and there are tons of extra-curricular activities,” Vir says.


Finding Support and Enrichment While Studying and Sailing

“My best experiences by far have come from my involvement on the sailing team,” Vir says unequivocally. “I have developed the most as an individual by spending time with some fantastic team members who have helped me to not only think critically, but also become more independent,” he says.

Between school and sailing, time-management is an essential skill to attain and develop. Vir comments that managing his time has been relatively easy with the help of his huge support system. “From my academic adviser to my coach and professors, everyone is committed to making sure that I can pursue my athletic goals while also keeping up academically,” he says.  

The President’s Leadership Program

CNU’s President’s Leadership Program (PLP) is one of its signature scholarship initiatives. It empowers students to recognise their leadership potential and helps them to pursue meaningful and impact lives. The program helps students define their purpose, find their passion, clarify values and develop personal and social responsibility for the betterment of themselves and society. In addition to all this, as part of the PLP, students complete six classes (18 credits) in Leadership Studies earning them a minor degree in the subject.

Vir places strong value on leadership abilities and immediately decided that he wanted to be involved in the PLP. Having experienced a leadership role in his high school sailing team, he was excited about the prospect of developing the skill further.

“The PLP course has taught me more than I could have possibly dreamed of with regards to the dynamic of leadership by breaking it down into simpler concepts and linking them to real life scenarios such as leader-follower relationships and developing growth mind-sets.” Vir explains.


Breakdown of the PLP

Speaker Series: The PLP program is augmented by Christopher Newport University’s Speaker Series. Each semester, selected individuals from a wide range of fields speak to the students on leadership and their personal experiences. Past speakers include Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell, former US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and the founders of Operation Smile.

Vir shared that he was particularly moved by a presentation by Suzanne Scheuble. Suzanne is not that much older than Vir, yet as founder of Children’s Home for Special Needs Children in Ethiopia, she already embodies the CNU ideal of leading a life of significance. “What really struck a chord with the audience was her message of following your passion, no matter what your age,” he says.  

Passport Events: As part of PLP, students also attend “Passport Events”, or events held on campus designed to expose them to new ideas, thoughts and experiences. One of the most impactful events for Vir was a lecture explaining the US Government system. Vir was amazed by the differences between the US government systems and what he grew up with in India, and it furthered his interest in American History.

Community Service: Finally, students in PLP participate in community service to promote positive community change and embrace the idea of leadership for a greater good. CNU is dedicated to teaching students to contribute to something larger than themselves and to give back to the community.


Are you interested in learning more about Christopher Newport University and its programs? Visit CNU’s SchoolApply profile page and apply now!