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Emerging as Leaders

Students who participated in the 2016 emerging leaders retreat

Sixteen student mentors and 70 first-years participated in the 2016 Emerging Leaders Retreat. Photo courtesy of Dickinson's Office of Student Leadership & Campus Engagement.

First-year students learn how to lead 

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

Two years ago, Caly McCarthy ’17 (history, environmental studies) was a first-year student who yearned to make her mark. Today, she’s a Dining Hall student supervisor, Wellness House resident and national honor society Alpha Lambda Delta member, and she’s passing along some of her lessons learned to the next wave of first-years.

McCarthy is one 16 student-leaders who helped power the 2016 Emerging Leaders Retreat (ELR). Held one week before the start of the spring semester, the program brings together first-year students interested in taking on leadership roles on campus with upper-level student mentors and administrators for four days of collaborative activities aimed at helping them build the skills and connections they’ll need to succeed.

“I’m learning so much from not only the instructors but also my fellow students, and it’s an incredible experience,” said Michaela Zanis ’19 (law & policy), already a member of Dickinson's mock trial team, the saxophone ensemble and the Student Music Society.

“ELR helps students effectively focus their creative energies by giving them amazing resources and opportunities to take the ideas swirling in their brains and make them come to life,” said Nick Rejebian ’17 (political science, economics), who marked his third year as an ELR mentor, along with classmate Isaiah Gibson (sociology, law & policy).

The retreat is a companion to Dickinson’s first-year mentor program, which pairs small groups of first-year students with upper-level student mentors, beginning with Orientation. Seventy first-years participated—up from 45 in 2015—each recommended by faculty and staff members and alumni.

Class senator Mary Hinton ’19 learned about and practiced communication and organizational and time-management skills, while connecting with fellow classmates, many from different residence halls, classes or clubs. “We were pushed out of our comfort zones and were able to share our different life experiences, personalities and leadership styles with one another,” she said, “and that will help me become a better leader.”

“It's awesome watching 70 or so random people become close in a few short days and share and learn through both commonalities and differences,” added Ellen Bair ’18 (sociology, American studies), a first-year mentor, peer academic advisor and ALLARM coordinator who also is involved with the Liberty Cap Society, Tritons and community service.

Along the way, ELR participants also recognized something vital—that they can lead and influence even in their first weeks and months on campus. That was an empowering takeaway for Malcolm Davis ’19, who plans to take what he’s learned about communication, event planning and effective meeting techniques back to his friends on the football and track teams.

Catalina Ionescu ’19, (physics, computer science), was similarly inspired. “I learned that listening to other people, acknowledging their strong points and trusting them can lead to incredible results,” she said.

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Published February 1, 2016