Leadership Lifestyle Series gives students valuable academic and professional skills

Posted by Centre News in Academics, Campus, Experts, News 10 Oct 2013

hall_sarahscottCentre is known as a place of lifelong and experiential learning, and thanks to the work of Associate Dean and Director of Residence Life Sarah Scott Hall, students have yet another opportunity to learn outside the classroom. Throughout this academic year, Hall will be coordinating the Leadership Lifestyle Series, a sequence of workshops and talks designed to give students the extra skills they need to succeed at Centre and beyond.

“For many years, I’ve been interested in leadership,” says Hall. “I’m interested in how people go about changing systems and making positive changes in the world. A couple of years ago, I was on an ad hoc committee for President Roush that investigated leadership programs around the nation. After traveling to other schools and doing some research, we came away with a strong belief that people who are making positive changes in the world have a certain set of concrete skills—and that these skills can be taught.”

And thus the idea for an interactive, informal leadership workshop was born.

“These workshops are a wonderful complement to the academic education our students are getting,” she says. “Some students leave Centre with a stellar education, but aren’t sure how to maximize it or what to do with it. I don’t know if they understand how empowered they are to make positive changes in their lives and the world.”

The workshops will be held one to two times per month, with slots open for 25 participants. The first session was held September 26, with a full class and a waiting list—an indicator for Hall of the necessity for this type of program. She explains that any workshop with an excessively long waiting list will be offered a second time.
Hall was pleased with the introductory workshop.

“We had a wonderful cross-section of participants,” she explains. “There were first-years through seniors, and both very involved and less-involved students. I’m really excited about the diverse group that’s interested.”
Workshops will be held on a variety of topics, including the value of networking, communication skills, creative problem solving and innovation, social entrepreneurship, ethics in leadership and goal-setting.

Hall stresses that these workshops are meant to be a practical resource for students.

“We want these workshops to be about more than just theory,” she says. “We want students to walk away with a practical skill. By the end of our first session, each student left with a concrete goal for this year, broken down into steps. I’ll be checking in with each of these students monthly through the end of the year to help them be held accountable.”

The beauty of the program is its flexibility; students can pick and choose the particular workshop topics that will be most useful to them. The workshops are also open to faculty or staff who are interested. Every person who completes a session receives a certificate of completion.

Hall mentions that the series would not be possible without help from SGA president Cody Cook, who is currently interning with the Student Life Office.

“Cody has been instrumental in getting information together and working on this with me,” she says. “He has been a tremendous help and deserves a lot of credit.”

Importantly, while the various leadership skills will benefit students during their time at Centre, they will also be invaluable after graduation.

“These students will have a leg-up once they graduate,” says Hall, “both in landing jobs and getting into graduate school; they’ll be able to better articulate how they can put their education to maximum use.”

The next workshop (on communication skills) is on Wednesday, October 23, 6-7 p.m. in the Ewen Room of the Campus Center. Reservations are required to participate, and space is limited.

To learn more about participating in the Leadership Lifestyle series, contact Sarah Scott Hall at sarah.hall@centre.edu.

By Mariel Smith