Today: Feb 26, 2024

Weekend retreat builds leadership skills for life

Jessica Giannone
General Assignment Reporter
“Leadership is action, not position,” said Stefen Keller, quoting the late president of the National Urban League Donald H. McGannon in speaking about this semester’s leadership retreat. On Jan. 20-22 Southern held the program “To Leadership and Beyond” as student leaders were invited to come together to plan for the semester and collaborate with each other while participating in various activities and workshops that help build leadership skills.

Keller, the Board of Club and Organization Management chair for the Student Government Association, said the retreat provided students with opportunities to build life skills such as stress and time management, organization and collaboration.

“Skills for life and beyond,” as Keller put it.

Student leaders are those who are registered as SCSU student leaders who are either elected or appointed executive board members for clubs or organizations, according to the Office of Student Life website. The event is hosted by the Student Government Association, and the Offices of Student and Residence Life.

Keller said the retreat has been hosted for six or seven semesters, and the number of attendees, which is about 200 now, has been increasing over the years.

“It increases collaboration between clubs,” said Keller. “It makes [students] more comfortable with each other.”
Keller said what makes the retreat unique is when student speakers present topics they think are important. He said different students from all areas of campus are able to come together and bring different perspectives.
“Every student can bring a different topic to the table,” said Keller.
He said it provides students with opportunities to learn new things they wouldn’t have learned otherwise, so they help each other out.
One of the most constructive activities, “Breaking on Through,” according to Keller, was held two retreats ago, where students wrote down barriers they had, such as time management or fear of being rejected, that they wanted to “break through.” He said students would write their barrier on a board and the speaker would tell them how to “break through” it with their hands or feet.
Keller said the “breaking through board” represented the barrier for each student.

“It’s really powerful,” said Keller, “and some people really got emotional with it. It’s probably the most effective activity I’ve ever seen at a retreat.”
A lot of activities have been added to the program as well, according to Keller. He said this time a closing activity was held, where everyone was brought together at the end and pictures were presented from the retreat.
“Give it that last hurrah before going back to start the semester,” said Keller.
He said this time the retreat also had case studies, where students were given a scenario and had to say what they would do in a certain situation. Keller said the activity allowed students to see how others would solve problems

Rebecka Stobierski, president of the Sports Medicine Club, said the money workshop was the most productive for the club because it allowed the members to learn how to put together different fundraisers and use their money effectively as a club.

“I learned how to lead my club and organization,” said Stobierski, “as well as I learned a lot about how to manage our budget and how to become an active club on campus.”

She said she expects to be able to network better with different organizations.

“It’s not just a retreat for one specific type of student,” said Keller.

He said the main goal is to help students to be leaders while they are at Southern, and gain a sense of leadership for their careers beyond Southern.

Tim Wright, a member of the Sports Medicine Club said he thought the workshops would help enhance responsibility.

“I’ve heard that a lot of the stuff is actually really helpful,” said Wright, “not just stuff you just sit around and just kind of wait for the end for.”

Keller said for future retreats they are hoping to bring in more keynote speakers from outside of the community, such as representatives and students from other universities, because they want to share what is done at Southern and show others that the retreat is effective.

“I think a really good student leader,” said Keller, “is someone that is not really in it for their own benefit, but who is really trying to help the other students around them develop their skills as well.”

Keller quoted from Twitter, “A leader doesn’t make followers, they make more leaders.”

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