Summit Overview

The Summit

2009 Summit, South Africa

The American Academy of Achievement launched its inaugural International Achievement Summit at Budapest, Hungary in June of 1999.

Prior to the occasion of the first International Achievement Summit in Budapest, the American Academy of Achievement had, since 1961, provided life-changing experiences to thousands of American high school students at the annual Salute to Excellence program.

The International Achievement Summit enabled the Academy to expand its reach outside the United States for the first time by generating a dialogue between eminent international achievers and the most promising young leaders of tomorrow. The Academy’s global Summit adhered to the legacy of its domestic Salute to Excellence program by bringing together men and women of exceptional accomplishment to share their experiences with remarkable young people from around the world, with an adjusted focus toward graduate-level scholars.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy addresses the Academy delegates at the 2014 Achievement Summit in San Francisco.

For the inaugural Summit in Budapest, more than 100 outstanding international graduate students were selected by the Academy from nominations submitted by administrators of such international exchange programs as the Rhodes Scholarship Trust, Truman Scholarship Foundation and Fulbright Scholarship program. Delegate nominations were also provided by the faculty of more than 25 institutions, including the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton, Institute of Political Studies in Paris, School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins, Stanford Business School, Harvard Law School, United States Military Academy, Naval Academy and Air Force Academy.

Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, former Academy student delegates, return as 2004 Honorees.
Chicago 2004: Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, former Academy delegates, return as honorees.

During the four-day International Achievement Summit, the Academy delegation of young scholars joined hundreds of distinguished guests — including heads of state, leaders of industry, foreign ministers, ministers of defense, military commanders and diplomats — in an extraordinary series of symposia and roundtable discussions. The Academy members and graduate students participated in a number of memorable and inspiring events during the Summit, highlighted by presentations in the Palace of Justice from His Excellency Árpád Göncz, President of the Republic of Hungary, and Dr. Bronislaw Geremek, Foreign Minister of Poland, on their imprisonment by communist governments and their commitment to democracy; a dialogue on the expansion of NATO with His Excellency Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of the Republic of Hungary, in the historic Parliament building; a summary of the Kosovo crisis by General Wesley K. Clark, USA, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe; and a conversation on the pursuit of NATO membership with Her Excellency Nadezhda Mihailova, Foreign Minister of Bulgaria, and His Excellency Valdas Adamkus, President of the Republic of Lithuania.

President Bill Clinton and fellow Academy member Ray Charles meet at the 2003 Summit in Washington, D.C.
President Bill Clinton and fellow Academy member Ray Charles meet at the 2003 Summit in Washington, D.C.

The second International Achievement Summit took place at Claridge’s in London, England, in October 2000. The American Academy of Achievement invited 30 men and women of exceptional accomplishment to share their wisdom and experience with 200 outstanding graduate students in the disciplines of law, medicine, the sciences, economics and international affairs. The assembled students represented over 40 different countries and more than 25 institutions of higher learning. Featured speakers included Bertie Ahern, Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland; Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga; NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson; Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan; Lech Walesa, the former President of Poland; and Mikhail Gorbachev, former Premier of the Soviet Union.

Rock & Roll pioneer Chuck Berry and legendary songwriter /musician Bob Dylan at the 2003 Achievement Summit.
Rock & Roll pioneer Chuck Berry and legendary songwriter/musician Bob Dylan at the 2003 Achievement Summit.

In June 2002, the 41st annual Salute to Excellence program and the third International Achievement Summit took place simultaneously in historic Dublin, capital of the Republic of Ireland. The Academy of Achievement invited 50 men and women of exceptional accomplishment (30 past honorees and 20 new awardees) to share their wisdom and experience with 200 outstanding graduate students from 40 countries in the disciplines of law, medicine, genetics, the sciences, engineering, economics, finance, journalism, international relations and diplomacy.

Screen legend Audrey Hepburn and fashion designer Ralph Lauren at the Academy's 1991 Summit in New York.
Screen legend Audrey Hepburn and fashion designer Ralph Lauren at the Academy’s 1991 Summit in New York.

The student delegates for the 2002 Summit were selected by prestigious international exchange programs, including the Rhodes Scholarship Trust, the White House Fellows program, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Truman Scholar Foundation, and the Marshall and Fulbright Scholarship programs. Additional student delegates were designated by the faculty of leading institutions around the world, including Harvard Law School, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, the Sanger Centre at Cambridge, MIT School of Engineering, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, Sofia University School of International Relations in Bulgaria, University College Dublin, the Max Planck Institute in Berlin, the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton, Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris, Moscow Institute of International Relations, Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, and the United States Military Academy, Naval Academy and Air Force Academy.

The 26-year-old Steve Jobs, co-founder and longtime chairman of Apple Computer, addresses the black-tie audience at the 1982 Banquet of the Golden Plate in New Orleans, Louisiana. (© Academy of Achievement)
Steven P. Jobs, the 26-year-old co-founder and the board chairman of Apple Computer Company, addresses the black-tie audience after receiving his award at the 1982 Banquet of the Golden Plate in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Subsequent International Achievement Summits have occurred in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, as well as Kailua-Kona, Hawaii and Cape Town, South Africa.

In 2012, the 50th anniversary gathering of the Academy of Achievement in Washington, D.C. brought the most promising young social media innovators and technology entrepreneurs from 30 nations to the U.S. Capitol, Supreme Court and other historic venues for symposium discussions with the leaders of American government, business and science. Many of the delegates were selected based on recommendations by the U.S. State Department, which partnered with the Academy to identify exceptional young people from around the world who have employed social media platforms and emerging technologies to effect significant change within their respective homelands.

Academy student delegate Taylor Swift performs her hit songs at the 2008 Banquet of the Golden Plate in Hawaii.
Academy student delegate Taylor Swift performs her hit songs at the 2008 Banquet of the Golden Plate in Hawaii.

The 2014 International Achievement Summit in San Francisco saw the convergence of 100 preeminent leaders of our times with 100 youth delegates — Rhodes Scholars, Marshall Scholars, Soros Fellows, medical students and young physicians of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Harvard-MIT Medical Scientist Training Program, as well as scholars from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Israel. Ideas flowed freely through symposium sessions and informal gatherings, as participants shared their views of the latest developments in medicine, technology, commerce and public affairs.

The International Achievement Summit provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the most gifted young leaders of the rising generation to interact with, to learn from — and even to inspire — the world’s most accomplished and influential leaders from across the spectrum of human endeavor.