Leadership students graduate with extra edge

| May 20, 2013

Class of 2013 Leadership Certificate students are Marie Elise-McGonigle (from left), Nicole Lee, A-Joo Kim, Whitney Waller, Lindsay Davis, Rachael Ashdown, Lauren Morgan, Natalie Dolan and Scarlett Reel. Not pictured are Christen Campbell, Julia Green, Victoria Litos and Samantha Schwartz.

On Saturday, Sweet Briar’s Leadership Certificate Program graduated its sixth class, ready to engage and influence the world community they will be part of.

Class of 2013 candidates receiving certificates were Rachael Ashdown, Christen Campbell, Lindsay Davis, Natalie Dolan, Julia Green, A-Joo Kim, Nicole Lee, Victoria Litos, Marie-Elise McGonigle, Lauren Morgan, Scarlett Reel, Samantha Schwartz and Whitney Waller.

Initiated in 2005, 66 students have completed the LCP curriculum, which is designed in three two-semester phases, leaving time for candidates to study abroad. The phases are progressive and combine theoretical and experiential learning. Students explore what leadership is, gain self-awareness, and develop concrete skills such as time management, organization and public speaking.

Emphasis is given to personal values, leadership styles, communication and ethical decision-making. Candidates also work with diverse groups, including external organizations, toward a common goal, and develop an awareness of contemporary and global issues.

“Throughout, there is a big focus on the experiential piece, because you can’t learn leadership by just talking about it,” says Joan Lucy, who has directed the program since 2006.

Unlike the College’s other courses of study that result in a certificate, this one is administered by and rooted in the co-curricular life office. The overarching idea is to help them understand how all of their activities outside the classroom — be it club participation, internships or work-study — complement what they learn in an academic setting by tying together the practical and the theoretical.

Candidates are required to identify 12 credit hours that are relevant to their leadership studies, “so they can draw connections to what they’re learning in the classroom and the things we’re doing,” Lucy says.

Getting involved on campus is a big reason many students sign up for the LCP. Sophomore Sarah Gray says just being in the program has opened doors.

“It’s amazing. I never thought that I would be approached by so many girls whom I respect so much to be on their committees and to be seen as a leader. I have been approached to join teams, apply for jobs, be [a] mentor, serve on committees and run for office,” she says.

Senior Lindsay Davis recognized the value of having leadership skills and the need to be able to assert herself in her chosen field of engineering. She used to shy away from leadership roles and any kind of public speaking.

“Now I feel that I can give a presentation at the drop of a hat,” she says.

The certificate also draws employers’ attention. At least two engineering firms asked Davis about it in interviews. But her biggest takeaway might be the change she has seen in herself — and what it implies for her future.

“I now know that the only thing keeping me from doing anything is trying,” Davis says. “I’ve learned that I would rather try and fail than never try at all. I believe that with my Sweet Briar education, along with my experience in the Leadership Certificate Program, I can do anything I aspire to.”

Learn more about the Leadership Certificate Program here.

Jennifer McManamay

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Category: Leadership Certificate Program