UTC students YOU KNOW will change the world
–the second of two stories by Cindy Carroll
For one week, I shook off my public relations responsibilities at UTC and embraced the role of faculty facilitator for the LeaderShape Institute, where 48 UTC students had an opportunity to consider who they are, how they lead, what they want to do to make a difference in their world, and then take with them new skills and support from others to move forward.In the natural setting of Camp Lookout, where bullfrogs bellow and the night sky is full of stars, faculty and students made forever friends during an experience that makes an indelible impression on everyone who participates.
(I invite you to read my first LeadShape story.)
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the group of UTC students who attended the LeaderShape Institute. Most students I meet on campus seem so much brighter than I was at their age, and they are always a few steps ahead of me with technology. What could I offer students who are so involved on our campus—in sororities, fraternities, campus activities, SGA, Unique Perception, club sports, Chancellor’s Ambassadors, Brother 2 Brother and so much more?
The answer turned out to be far less complicated than I imagined. The faculty collectively gave their undivided time to stimulate discussion and encourage our wonderful students to think beyond their personal goals and consider how they could positively change the world as they “lead with integrity” and have a “healthy disregard for the impossible.”
It didn’t take long for everyone to get to know each other far beyond a surface conversation. We were all asked to offer our life experiences and explain how they have positively and negatively have affected our lives.
After a week of sharing, discussing, growing, and bonding, here’s how Connor Behrmann, Vocal Performance and French major, explained his takeaway:
“LeaderShape has really helped me to realize the changes that have been happening in myself since coming to college. Because of LeaderShape, I have learned the ways in which my leadership style has changed, and have also seen how others view me in everyday life. The community that was built during our week at Camp Lookout was incredible. I have never felt closer to a group, and yet we had all just met. By opening ourselves to those around us, we were able to grow in extraordinary ways. This kind of opportunity is rare, and I am thankful to have been a part of it.”
Stuart Parry, Political Science: Legal Studies major, observed:
“LeaderShape made a difference in my life by teaching me that nine times out of ten, people are going to surprise you. They won’t fit into the small world of preconceived notions.”
The week was full of surprises. All of us especially enjoyed Wednesday night, when a group of influential leaders took time from their busy schedules to speak from the heart about their own experiences. They talked about the good things that happened in their careers and the problems that keep them up at night with worry.
The group included Monique Prado Berke, Vice President of Investment Operations for Unum’s Investment Management Group, who is married to Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke; United States District Judge Curtis Collier; Dr. Melissa Shivers, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Life and Strategic Initiatives at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; Chris Ramsey, Director of Policy and Regulations for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee; and Will Wade, Chattanooga Mocs Head Men’s Basketball Coach.
Students responded positively to the panel discussion and the smaller breakout sessions.
Kayla Miller, Environmental Science major, was one of the student hosts for the evening. She explained the LeaderShape experience to Monique Prado Berke.
“Words really can’t express how LeaderShape has made a difference in my life. It’s like another light bulb went off. But LeaderShape really made things more secure for me in terms of fulfilling a leading position,” Miller said.
Student leaders all have a different way of communicating, and LeaderShape appealed to everyone’s style. Whether a student jumped in head first or analyzed a situation before offering input, everyone’s voice was heard and respected.
“After LeaderShape, I feel much more confident in not only myself but my ability to lead a group. I also realized the importance of using my talents and passion to serve others. I learned that there are times when I need to speak up, and times when it is important to sit back and let someone else take the lead,” said Laura Ownbey, Nursing major.
At the conclusion of the LeaderShape Institute, the ten students in my “family” group happily shared their passion for what they learned and all of them said they would encourage others to do the same.
“I would definitely recommend LeaderShape to a friend simply because you’re reaching out to learn more about your peers on campus and ways you can insure you are being a great leader,” Miller said.
“I would most definitely recommend LeaderShape to a friend. I believe that it is a life-changing experience and that everyone that attends leaves a better leader than they were when they first attended,” said Allison Quintanilla, Public Administration and Non Profit major.
As a faculty member, I was so impressed by the honesty of the students. When I heard about the challenges many of them face in their personal lives, and yet they continue to work hard to maintain good grades and take on leadership responsibilities—it made me think a lot about courage and perseverance, and it renewed my passion for public education.
Anyone who is asked to take on a faculty role to work with LeaderShape should jump at the chance. Students aren’t the only ones who learn.