Students attend LeaderShape
Forty-six student gathered in Point Lookout in Lincoln, Maine to engage in the College’s first participation in LeaderShape.
As members of the College community dispersed to different parts of the world for spring break, a group of 46 students remained close to the Hill and stayed an hour away at Point Lookout in Lincolnville, Maine. They went with four College staff members and participated in a week-long leadership training program called LeaderShape.
The program was initially developed by the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity (ATO) in 1986 to promote leadership on college campuses. In 1988, LeaderShape, Inc. was instituted to oversee the program and to continue ATO’s efforts to develop student leaders. Soon, the company began establishing partnerships with universities in order to bring the sessions to university students more easily.
Associate Dean of Students and Director of Campus Life Jed Wartman was initially introduced to LeaderShape while he was still working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “[In the program], there would be lead facilitators from LeaderShape, Inc. and university staff members who would act as ‘cluster facilitators.’ I was a cluster facilitator at MIT,” he said.
Wartman was impressed by the excellence of the program and its unique way of delivering the message of leading with integrity. “The concept of leadership development is pretty popular,” he said, “[but] what is unique about LeaderShape is the setting. It’s a six-day program with overnight stays off-campus.”
He wanted to bring LeaderShape to the Hill and therefore helped create the partnership between the company and the College.
Monica Li ’15 read about LeaderShape through the General Announcements. A native of Shanghai, China, she said, “I couldn’t go home [for spring break], but I wanted to do something productive.”
Megan MacKenzie ’15 had similar reasons for joining the program. “I live in California, so it is a big effort for me to go home,” she said. “Also, not all of my friends had the same spring break schedule. Out of all the opportunities advertised for the break, LeaderShape seemed to be the most intriguing.”
For Carolin Maney ’12, however, the decision to participate in LeaderShape was rooted more in some of her personal struggles at Colby. “I have been facing a lot of obstacles trying to revive the United World College (UWC) Club here at Colby, and I thought that attending a leadership workshop might help,” she said. “Still, I was looking for a new experience, something new and exciting to learn. I have always seen these inspiring leaders and ask myself, ‘How do they do it?’”
During the six days, the students were divided into four “family clusters” and the facilitators led them in different activities geared toward recognizing one’s own leadership qualities. “Each day had a theme,” Wartman said. “There’s building a community, exploring your own passions, setting a vision, achieving that vision and [discovering] the role of integrity.”
Wartman argued that the best part of LeaderShape was simply talking to the students during meals. “There was rich conversation,” he said, “There was also divergent opinion, which we needed to reconcile and talk about in ways that were respectful and healthy.”
For Li, the amount of self-reflection she did in LeaderShape allowed her to discover her passion for children’s rights. “There was a lot of reflecting on my core values, my vision for myself,” she said. “LeaderShape allowed me to gain a sense of purpose and fulfillment.”
A potential psychology or anthropology major, MacKenzie now sees things in her Cultural Anthropology class differently. “Instead of seeing things I read about [in textbooks] as being about different cultures, I am now trying to read like I am having a discussion with members of these cultures,” she said.
As the only senior in the group, Maney felt that participating in LeaderShape allowed her to foster a “stronger affiliation with the Colby community.” She assed that, “LeaderShape changed my view of Colby. I could [now] see the potential in the community.”
“LeaderShape had to happen to Colby for us to have a more inclusive and active community, to recognize the power we have to improve the community. Now, I wish I could stay and see it all pan out,” Maney said.
Wartman hopes that the students who participated in LeaderShape apply what they learned to the College community. “That is the immediate challenge,” he said.
“[LeaderShape] was about shifting attitude, believing in possibilities and embracing the philosophy of having ‘a healthy disregard for the impossible,’” Wartman said. “I was impressed by the students who participated. They took a risk, this being the inaugural year [of LeaderShape at Colby]. We hope to offer it annually.”
MacKenzie was inspired by the week. “I now have a better understanding of who I am,” she said. “Even if you’re not sure what LeaderShape will do for you, if you want to grow as a person and want to make the world a better place, then LeaderShape is the way to go.”