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Inspiring tomorrow’s leaders

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers publishes a list of top qualities employers seek in new college hires. Sandwiched between “team player” and “communication skills” is a classic—“leadership.” But the seemingly straightforward, familiar concept is actually quite elusive.

To help incoming students grasp the admired—but complex—quality, Campus Activities and Orientation created the Emerging Leaders Program in 2007. During orientation each fall, co-instructors Michael Grewe and Joanne Reeck invite first-year and transfer students to apply for the 11-week program that empowers students to develop and apply their leadership skills to connect with and engage in the Augsburg and greater communities.

“The program is incredibly important to the campus community, as we are providing incoming students an opportunity to grow and nurture their leadership skills—encouraging them to understand what drives them,” said Grewe, who had led the effort with Reeck since 2012. “The program, which serves about 50 students each year, has also realized pipelines for leadership opportunities both on and off campus.”

Grewe said weekly gatherings create space to discuss ethics, conflict, personal identity, power and privilege. The group settings allow new faces to meet others interested in sharpening their leadership skills.

“It’s always an inspiring blend of both students with leadership experience and those who are just beginning to see themselves as leaders,” said Grewe, assistant director of Campus Activities and Orientation “Many of our students become impactful campus leaders as resident advisers, orientation or AugSem leaders, and officers of campus organizations.”

Participants also meet with peer leaders four times that first semester at Augsburg. These one-on-one sessions build upon and personalize concepts presented during the weekly class.

“Discussions with peer leaders are key to participants’ personal growth, as they challenge students to reflect on class concepts in their own lives,” Grewe said. “Peers also help connect students with opportunities that align with their passions and interests.” 

Tools such as StrengthsFinder and the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator help provide students with insight and focus on strengths rather than weaknesses.

More information, including applications for fall 2016 (available in the summer) can be found at Campus Activities and Orientation.

Dimension 1, Goal 3, Strategy 3: Integrate and strengthen student success efforts.

—By Kate H. Elliott