Over the summer, six Ohio Wesleyan student-leaders participated in a six-day national leadership conference – and they recently brought their lessons back to shape other students.
Participants included juniors Meghan Finke, Jerry Lherisson, and Robyn Madrishin, and sophomores Leslie Alton, Rachel Morley, and Shareeque Sadiq. Their participation in the “LeaderShape Institute” was sponsored by the University’s Student Involvement Office and the Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs, the student government.
Five of the LeaderShape participants offered short presentations to fellow OWU students October 7-8; Sadiq is currently studying abroad in Tanzania.
They were joined Wednesday by junior Hannah Henderson, a former LeaderShape delegate and current LeaderShape fellow for the Student Involvement Office.
“I would say the biggest take-away that I got from LeaderShape was that you don’t have to be the most dominant person in the room to be a leader,” Henderson says.
Another important part of Henderson’s experience two years ago was the question of how different leaders can work together.
“You come to OWU, and it’s a school of leaders all over campus,” she says.
Lherisson, current vice president of WCSA, says he didn’t know much about the conference before he attended – but the mystery only improved the experience.
“I can tell you it was probably one of the single most transformative weeks of my experience in college,” he says.
“You get immersed in this community of very high-achieving people who are incredibly charismatic and who are very outgoing, and so they radiate a sense of positivity, a sense of wanting to do more and more for the community, and that’s really inspiring to see from students all over the country.”
Part of their six-day process was developing a “Vision Statement” that they would carry with them well beyond the end of the conference.
Alton found her statement was to equalize access to education.
“(It’s about) having education available equally for all students, so even though they might be in a different socio-economic status, they would still have the same resources and teachers and buildings as others who live in higher economic status,” she says.
Lherrison’s takeaway was to improve his own access as a leader of the student body.
“I think I’ve become much more public in terms of my outreach to people, to ask them how can we help you, what are the things you want to see here on campus, how would you like them to go forward,” he explains.
Henderson, motivated by her father’s death from lung cancer, saw part of her vision to create discussion regarding the use of tobacco, and is carrying that out at Ohio Wesleyan by leading a student body committee to explore revisions to the smoking policy.
Henderson, a Class of 2016 representative on WCSA and vice president of membership for Delta Gamma, says her leadership experiences have helped her in those roles.
Alton, also a member of Delta Gamma, is director of activities and logistics chair of the Spirit and Homecoming Organization, and uses her LeaderShape training with both organizations and in everyday life.
“Whenever someone asks about LeaderShape, I definitely encourage them to go (and) tell them it was a great experience,” she says.
“I wish that everyone could have it just so they could realize how much they can do.”
The LeaderShape Institute was developed in 1986 by Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity (ATO) as a means of improving campus leadership. In 1988, LeaderShape Inc. was formed as a separate not-for-profit corporation to oversee the institute and further its mission of developing young adults to “lead with integrity.” Learn more about LeaderShape at www.leadershape.org.