McDaniel launches student leadership training program

A group of 13 freshmen next week will convene McDaniel’s inaugural class of the Leadership Engagement and Development Program (LEAD) and begin a semesters-long journey of training to become effective leaders who will serve campus and community organizations and then carry their skills and commitment into lives of service beyond graduation.

The students will participate in a four-day session Jan. 18-21, taking part in discussions about team building, defining leadership and setting goals. They will also hear from a panel of Westminster-area leaders.

McDaniel administrators created LEAD based on the philosophy that leadership learning is transformational and reinforces the McDaniel College mission of “changing lives” by fostering increased engagement, reflection on civic responsibility, appreciation of difference and values clarification. The program will focus on personal growth, organizational development, leading others and social responsibility.

“Through this incredible new leadership program, freshman students will be introduced to leadership as a process that involves engaging others to accomplish common goals,” says Beth Gerl, vice president and dean of student affairs. “Students will channel their interests, capitalize on their strengths, and utilize their unique talents in order to make contribution to the leadership process.”

In addition to this month’s session, LEAD students continue the program into their sophomore year.

During freshman spring semester, they will attend weekly sessions – exploring topics such as “Dealing with Difficult People,” “The Hazards of Spreading Yourself Too Thin,” and “The Budget Process” – and seek out leadership and service positions on campus.

They will experience a daylong retreat during their sophomore fall semester that includes activities such as reconnecting team-builders and developing individual goals, and planning small-group leadership projects. Students also will attend biweekly meetings on topics such as developing a leadership vision and maintaining personal accountability.

For their sophomore year Jan Term, they will mentor the program’s newest freshmen participants and lead sessions on skills development.

Any first-year student may apply to the program or be nominated. Admission to the program is based on faculty/staff recommendations and essay responses that demonstrate a student’s potential as a leader.