Student Senate hosts leader retreat

Denny Patterson

On Saturday, April 13, Student Senate coordinated and sponsored the Emerging Leader Retreat. The retreat was for 20 first year and sophomore students involved in different organizations around campus who have been identified as developing student leaders. Eleven junior and senior leaders ran the retreat with the concept: “I wish I would have known this when I was becoming a leader.”

“We held the retreat at Allerton Park in Monticello,” Student Senate President Jacqui Rogers said. “We did workshops with topics centered on branding, transparency, communication and conflict, and balancing academics and co-curricular activities.”

After the workshops, participants were broken up into different areas on campus – student organizations, athletics and Greeks – and talked about leadership within those specific areas. The first year and sophomore students then participated in a challenge course where they attempted to put leadership skills to use.

“My experience at the Emerging Leader Retreat was great,” mentee Alex Tueth said.  “I learned what my strengths and weaknesses were and what I need to do to become a better leader. I got to meet new students who I’ve never met before, and I learned how to become a team player throughout our team challenge exercises.”
This is the first time Student Senate has held this retreat, and Rogers hopes it can become an annual event.

“I feel leadership development is an important component to the college education,” she said. “The mentors have already talked about tweaking the schedule a bit. In addition, as we watched the mentees do the challenge course, we talked about other topics to discuss that would be beneficial for them to know as well. We also hope to invite more people to participate, as well.”

Roop, who served as one of the mentors, gave advice and lessons on what it means to be a good student leader – establishing your values.

“Without your values you cannot effectively lead anyone or anything,” Roop said. “I told them that once you establish your values you must create a vision for what you would like to see happen within your organization. Then finally, once you create your vision, you must organize it and put it into action. Being a leader isn’t always natural. It’s something you have to work hard for and think about.”

As all of the students will be interacting with each other in the upcoming semesters, the retreat was an opportunity for the emerging leaders to network and learn from each other. According to Blakeman, the mini-education sessions helped the students think outside of the box and consider various points of view, which can be critical.

“In addition to the emerging leaders, or the mentees, this event was also rewarding for the mentors,” Blakeman said. “I think that we all had a great time being able to connect with these younger students and also taking time out to enjoy time with others in our cohort. I’m a big believer in lifelong learning, and even though I was a mentor and one of the presenters, this event still taught me several things, as well.”