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Training student leaders for a global society

The Division of Student Affairs at Virginia Tech has garnered a reputation for taking student leaders and shaping them into world leaders. That declaration was often mentioned in the speeches of the late Vice President for Student Affairs Zenobia Lawrence Hikes.

   

During the ropes exercise, Leadership Tech team members develop self-awareness and problem solving skills, allowing them to explore their strengths and weaknesses as a leader and a team player. During the ropes exercise, Leadership Tech team members develop self-awareness and problem-solving skills, allowing them to explore their strengths and weaknesses as a leader and a team player.

Over the years, Virginia Tech students have sought more opportunities to get involved in activities on campus or throughout the surrounding communities. Such opportunities allow students to demonstrate their leadership capabilities. One such leadership development program is Leadership Tech, a program supported by University Unions and Student Activities, both departments within the Division of Student Affairs.

Each semester undergraduate students are offered an opportunity to participate in Leadership Tech. There are two phases of the co-curricular leadership series: Emerging Leaders and Engaging Leaders. Both allow students to take part in extended learning experiences through small peer workshops and large group activities.

   

Joined together in theme groups, Leadership Tech participants begin to rely on each other during critical teambuilding activities. Joined together in theme groups, Leadership Tech participants begin to rely on each other during teambuilding activities.

The Emerging Leaders program is designed for first-year students. In this phase of the program, participants work closely with upper-class student leaders, who serve as group facilitators. The content of the program centers on learning more about the fundamentals of leadership. Through small group activities that relate to common readings, shared service-learning goals, and peer seminars, the students begin to realize their leadership potential.

The Engaging Leaders program is designed for sophomore students and above. Each student within the program selects a theme-focused group to join. Six themes exist for students to choose from and include social justice, environmental sustainability, community vitality, health and wellness, global awareness, and peer leadership education. Through teamwork and mutual interest, each of the themed student groups creates a plan for an end-of-semester service project. At the end of the spring semester, each group completes a community service project. The project is often in collaboration with a local agency or organization. Leadership Tech uses community service as the underlying means for teaching leadership skills.

"Leadership Tech is just one of many programs within the Division of Student Affairs at Virginia Tech that is dedicated to the pursuit of developing our students into the leaders of a changing and highly competitive workforce," said Edward F.D. Spencer, vice president for Student Affairs.

Christine Damico, a junior finance major in the Pamplin College of Business from Roanoke, Va., joined the Leadership Tech Engaging Leaders program in her sophomore year. Damico learned about the program during the student organization showcase held at the start of each fall semester. She says what caught her attention most was that she could join a group and work within the community on a specific venture. Damico eventually joined the social justice theme group.

After a presentation from the Montgomery County Emergency Assistance Program and consideration, Damico says her group decided to remodel the Blacksburg Clothing Bank. The group removed old carpeting, repaired hardwood floors, painted walls and ceilings, and partnered with Delta Sigma Pi, a Virginia Tech business fraternity, to build new clothes racks. The costs associated with remodeling were subsidized in several ways – the clothing bank, advisors, and the group all pitched in to pay for needed supplies.

Although Damico has concluded her time in Leadership Tech, she says the ideals she took from the experience still compel her to help others. Damico and other students along with advisors from Virginia Tech will be traveling to the Dominican Republic in May 2009 for a three-week stay. They will be visiting and offering their assistance to a town where Haitians live without running water, with little food to eat, and where the children desperately need clothing and education. 

Leadership Tech offers students hands-on experiences and opportunities to make an impact on the lives of others.

  • For more information on this topic, contact Meghan Williams at (540) 231-4754.

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