Leadership U challenging students to become better leaders

The Leadership U program at Minnesota State University, Mankato provides students with opportunities on campus and in the community to find, develop and challenge their leadership skills.

Great leaders hardly set out to be leaders, but their actions inspire others to dream, learn and do more; thus, their unique qualities always tend set them aside from the pack.

Leadership U is a department under the umbrella of Student Activities. Leadership U stands for leadership for the students and shares a connection with Student Activities. The department provides different leadership workshops for students on campus that inform, enlighten and engage students in order to sharpen their leadership skills in every session.

Ashley Strom, assistant director of Student Activities and advisor for Leadership U, said she is highly pleased with the program as it takes away the monotony of listening to a presenter continuously speak on a given topic.

“The cool thing about the leadership workshops is that the facilitator leads the students by getting them to engage in various activities or exercises thereby coaxing the students in a sense to interact amongst one another,” Strom said.

The leadership workshops are based on the “Student Leadership Competencies Guidebook” by Corey Seemiller. The book essentially acts as an outline to plan each workshop and gets students chatting about leadership concepts.

“The interaction between students allows them to share their perspectives, thereby molding a sense of awareness in leadership that makes a student consider and appreciate everyone’s line of thought, which is a character of a good leader,” Strom said.

The leadership workshops are scheduled every Tuesday from 5 to 6 p.m. on the second floor of the Centennial Student Union and run for the entire academic year. The peak point of the leadership program is a weekend retreat scheduled in January at Camp Omega, where students partake in the same activities they would at MNSU, but in a completely different environment. This trip is popular amongst students and aids in advertising Leadership U.

The Program is run by a board which is a collection of five undergraduate students who are entrusted with guidance, support and strategic direction of the program. The board members are also in charge of marketing and advertising the program.

The session held on Sept. 19 was on interpersonal interaction and was superbly presented as well as highly informative. It touched on the interaction people have as well as productive relationships. The facilitator of the session was Shanna Matejcek, a communication studies major, who was keen on informing students about how to formulate productive relationships. She gave a wonderful exercise that had students talk about how they would handle given situations such as a friend dealing with depression. Students discussed the situation in groups of two first, explained how they would approach it, then the entire workshop discussed the issue briefly. The session was enlightening as everyone had different perspectives and approaches to the various situations.

The turnout for the workshop was commendable and the participants involvement in the exercise was exemplary. Myles Olson, the strategic direction coordinator of the program and a member of the board, stated that the program is an excellent way to meet new people, make new friends and bring out the inner leader that is in every individual.

“There is always something new to learn whenever one gets involved with the program or turns up for a workshop,” Olson said.

Leadership U also offers a way to get involved with student activities.

“The leadership program is a marvelous, semi-organic way for students to build relationships with other students on campus,” said Strom.

MNSU continues to strive to provide students with numerous opportunities to build their character and create ideal individuals that become valuable assets to society. Leadership U is just one of the impeccable resources that the university continuously provides to students. The quality of the leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves and the empowering big ideas from other students. MNSU is proficient in making a difference through real world thinking by generating great leaders for the future.

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