by The College of Education / Feb 9, 2012
Lauren "Nikki" Vidal, a junior in Elementary Education, and Maggie Slingerland, a freshman in Pre-teacher Education, participated in the 2012 LeaderShape Institute at the Allerton Conference Center in January. The nationally recognized institute, hosted by the Illinois Leadership Center, is an intensive, 6-day leadership retreat that teaches visioning, relationship building, and the importance of leading with integrity. Participants are selected through an application process.
Vidal, a Golden Apple Scholar who is active in the Philippine Student Association, said she appreciated the various learning formats provided at the event: cluster sessions, large group discussions, and activities and simulations.
"I learned that it's okay for things to not always go exactly as planned and that we have to be ready for that to happen," Vidal said, adding that she also learned specifics on how to develop vision, an essential leadership characteristic. "I learned how to make ‘stretch' goals and manageable goals to help me reach my vision. I also learned a lot about team dynamics, different types of leaders, and how to accommodate your own leadership styles to those around you."
Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs Kathy Ryan served as a LeaderShape facilitator in 2011. She has also assisted with other workshops offered by the Illinois Leadership Center. Ryan said the event prompts students, in concrete ways, to think about what it means to be a leader.
"Students discuss real-life scenarios and they have to think about the kinds of decisions they would make and the ethical dilemmas that they might face," Ryan said. "Our hope is that the students become active and integral leaders who lead with integrity, not only in our own college, but campus-wide and also as future leaders beyond their time on campus."
Slingerland found the introspective focus of the retreat helpful. "One thing I need to work on is stepping out of my comfort zone and taking charge," she said, looking back on the experience. "This semester I'm going to keep growing as a person, and setting an example for the people around me. I would like to continue to work on my weaknesses and make them strengths," she added.
"I believe this experience will help me later in life, and I'm thankful that I had to opportunity to go on this retreat freshman year," Slingerland said. "There is nowhere to go but up, and I can't wait to see where it takes me."
For more information about LeaderShape, visit the Illinois Leadership Center online.