The Emerging Leaders Program began last week, aiming to prepare first and second year students to take on leadership roles on campus.
“We are trying to help first-year students find their niche, to give them the tools,” said Joel Zylstra, program coordinator for Student Involvement and Leadership and the advisor of the program.
“February is hiring time for student leaders, so now is a great time for students to develop their skills, meet other students and meet other faculty and staff,” he explained.
This marks the first year of the program. Made possible by a grant from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, it consists of a series of five events throughout the month of January that are aimed at training students to take on leadership roles, Zylstra said. One of those events is the Explore! retreat Jan. 19 and 20 for first years.
The events are focused loosely on the student leadership curriculum, which identifies what student leaders should learn during their time in leadership positions, he said. These positions include residence assistants, students working for Student Involvement and Leadership or the Diversity Center, those who run for positions in ASPLU or on the Residence Hall Association, and students who work at The Mast, KCNS or KCCR.
The program is largely targeted at President’s, Regents and Rieke scholars, and first years who have already signed up for the Explore! retreat. These students have “self-selected” and shown interested in getting involved on campus, he explained.
The program recognizes it can be difficult for students transitioning from high school involvement to be engaged in the college community. It will show students the difference between being a leader at high school and being a leader in college, offer a glimpse of the opportunities available on campus and connect them to key staff members, Zylstra said.
“A lot of students are blindsided by planning activities in college,” he said. “A lot come in with the idea that, ‘I planned a dance in high school or a pep rally in high school, and that makes me a student leader.’ It’s more involved here.”
Through the program, students will learn how to plan successful activities and engage their fellow students, Zylstra said.
Students who attend four of the five events will be eligible to receive a certificate that verifies they completed the program. That certificate could prove useful when February roles around and campus organizations set out to hire next year’s student leaders. Across campus, these organizations have agreed to recognize the certificate, which could give students who have one a leg up in the hiring process, Zylstra said.
“It shows they’ve taken additional steps to be college leaders,” he said.
Additionally, students will meet the staff members in charge of hiring at campus organizations. And it never hurts if an employers can put a face to your name when applying for jobs, Zylstra pointed out.
Four more events are scheduled for this month. They include:
• Thursday, Jan.18: “Helping Others Understand” with Eva Johnson, director of SIL, and Jeff Olsen Krengel, associate director of residential life, at 5:30 p.m. in UC 210. Students will learn ho to empower those around them, deal constructively with conflict and how to communicate effectively.
• Jan. 19 to 20: “Making Sense of it All,” the Explore! retreat with faculty, staff and student leaders, helps freshmen figure out what they want to do in life and in their careers and introduces them to “the big enough questions.”
• Thursday, Jan. 25: “Is that Really a Good Idea?” with Rick Eastman, associate director of SIL, and Paul Menzel, professor of philosophy, at 5:30 p.m. in UC 210. Students will discover how ethics fit into their lives and the decisions they may have to make as a student leader.
• Tuesday, Jan. 29: “How They Did It,” with current student leaders and employees who will explain the options available at PLU, how to make a difference and tips on how to develop your skills. This event will include a free catered dinner, but the location is still being determined.
Registration is required for the events. To sign up, or learn more, contact SIL at ext. 7195 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Information can also be found online at www.plu.edu/~yli/emerging-leaders/home.html.