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I-LEAD® 2017 Provides Additional Opportunity with Two Sessions

Hosting a combined total of 158 student leaders for the 2017 Institute of Leadership Education and Development (I-LEAD®), ACUI’s annual premier student program was held in early June at the University of Massachusetts–Lowell and late July at Kansas State University. Two sessions of I-LEAD® were offered this year to provide access to the program across more regions.   

Growth can be directly attributed to the scholarship provided by each ACUI region and word of mouth from past participants, as 16 students who attended received scholarships. 

“I-LEAD® teaches students leadership skills beyond a leadership position and will teach students how to apply it both in their role on their campus as well as their own lives,” said small-group facilitator Karen Yiu from the Georgia Institute of Technology. “The experience teaches you how to think critically, work in teams, communicate with people different from yourself, and challenge your comfort zone. The lessons and experience you take away from I-LEAD® will stay with you well beyond your college career and will help you develop as a person throughout and after college.”  

This year, participants spent six days together in the University Crossing building at the University of Massachusetts–Lowell and the K-State Union at Kansas State University while staying in residence halls on campus. They participated in a variety of full-group, large-group (50-65 students each), and small-group (10-14 students each) activities as well as reflection times.  

“The I-LEAD® institute is an experience that makes you wish you had done it sooner,” said Giselle Atallah, a small-group facilitator from the California State University–Dominguez Hills. “It empowers students to be their authentic self, but it also enables you to be your authentic self and live your best life. This institute is a great opportunity for any student to learn more about themselves, who they are as leaders, and challenge them to see the reality of today’s world and the impact they can make.” 

According to the student evaluation responses, the activities that contributed most to the overall learning experience included those related to discussion and dialogue, values, vision, assumptions, teambuilding, developing group vison statements, and personal mission statements. Informal reflection with peers and facilitators were also rated as high contributors to the experience, confirming the value of the opportunities for self-directed learning.  

Daniel Romero Vazquez, a student from Clackamas Community College who attended the Kansas State University session, shared what he has learned about being at the institute. “To be a great leader, you must first recognize who you are and what values are important to you,” he said. “Leadership is a growing experience, it’s a journey that many people are on; and it’s okay to be in a different place from someone else.” 

Student participants also self-assessed leadership competencies developed as a result of I-LEAD® 2017. The combined highest rated learning outcomes of the program (on a four-point scale where four is “strongly agree”) were: 

  • I recognize that I am part of something larger than my individual group/campus. (3.88)
  • I recognize my personal values and how my values relate to the values of my organization. (3.80)
  • I am self-aware as an individual, as a leader, and as a group member. (3.80)
  • I can facilitate discussions about planning and goal-setting to develop action plans toward achieving an organizational vision. (3.78)
  • I can act and lead with purpose and integrity, developing a personal set of ethics, morals, and values. (3.75)
  • I have explored my potential as a leader, reflecting on the concept that leadership is a process not a position. (3.75)
  • I can develop an individual vision for myself as a leader. (3.68)
  • I can sustain momentum on my return to campus to provide innovative and motivating leadership. (3.68)
  • I can apply leadership theories and techniques, enabling me to model desired behaviors and teach through example. (3.65)
  • I can negotiate challenging situations and achieve consensus. (3.6)
  • I can diffuse difficult situations through my knowledge of problem-solving methods and techniques. (3.57) 

For many students and volunteers, the institute resulted in a life-changing experience, opened their eyes to new perspectives and experiences, and created lifelong relationships. 

“Every single person in my small group impacted my life in such a positive way,” said Stephanie J. Munides from California State University–Channel Islands about her experience at the University of Massachusetts–Lowell session. “They allowed me to be vulnerable and they also made my experience at I-LEAD® one I will remember for the rest of my life. I will communicate my opinions more in order to create a better world around me.”   

When asked about their experience as a student intern for I-LEAD®, Michael Rutkowski, who also attended the program as an undergraduate student during his time at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point, said: “Serving as an intern for I-LEAD®, after attending as a student the previous year, has brought the power of the program full circle for me. The program develops leaders personally and professionally more than imaginable in one week. With confidence, I can say that I-LEAD® has changed me for the better.” 

Through their roles in small-group discussions and activities, facilitators also gained professional development and learning outcomes. On their evaluation, small-group facilitators reported developing the most in the skill set areas of Interpersonal Communication Skills, Motivation, Empowerment, Group Facilitation, Role Modeling, Self-Knowledge, and Instruction and Training. 

Gillian Perry, returning volunteer small-group facilitator from University of North Carolina–Wilmington, explained: “It had a profound impact on me as a student participant, but arguably has been even more impactful in the two years that I have had the privilege of co-facilitating small groups of students. Each year has brought me new perspective and has helped me go in to the next academic year refreshed, refocused, and profoundly grateful to work in our field.” 

Since becoming a stand-alone institute in 1999, more than 1,700 students have attended I-LEAD®. In its history, the program has grown from a four-day to a six-day institute and has held two sessions in a year several times. 

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