Every year, sixty students participate in the week-long LeaderShape Institute, which challenges participants to lead with integrity while working towards a vision grounded in their deepest values. NC State has been hosting a campus-based session since 2004.
This year, John Robinson-Miller IV and Marcela Torres-Cervantes from NC State’s Campus Community Centers had the opportunity to participate as cluster facilitators along with four professional staff members from the Division of Academic and Student Affairs. They share some of their insights from the experience.
Marcela Torres-Cervantes: I had always heard about the impact that LeaderShape can have on the participants, but I had never had the opportunity to join in on the fun. I was excited that the stars finally aligned and I was able to join this year’s LeaderShape family. The program is something you definitely need to experience in order to get the fullest understanding, but my biggest takeaway would have to be the value of taking the time to reflect.
Being in a university setting, it can make one feel as though they need to constantly be aiming for their next step, working towards an end goal and being future thinkers. While there is a lot to be said about innovation, especially on the campus of “Think and Do,” I find it to be just as important to stop and reflect on what the lessons have been and how we are applying our own set of morals to the work that we want to do. My students reminded me of the importance of embracing the chaos of life and that being present is more important than being perfect. A seemingly simple change in approach has made a huge impact on how I want to develop as a professional, and my hope is that my students also left with the same growth after our week together.
John Robinson-Miller IV: LeaderShape has been on my to-do list for a while, and many of the folx that I admire in higher education have shared the amazing experiences that they had with the program. I did not have the opportunity to participate while I was in undergrad or graduate school, so I was ecstatic to be able to be able to contribute to the program as a professional. Even through my excitement, it felt like a daunting task to go with strangers into the woods and return on day 7 with sixty different ways that they were going to change the world.
Honestly, when in your adult life do you get a chance to pause life to go into a place of support for an entire week and reflect on your OWN vision, motivations and ways that you would like to impact the world? The week that I spent with my Cluster Family, the Petite Yeets , helped me realize how important continuing to demonstrate authenticity and vulnerability are in a culture that values putting on a facade of being perfect and decisive all the time. I was humbled by the hard work that the students put into themselves and will be forever impacted as a professional!
Both: Participating in LeaderShape helped us both immensely, and we believe it is an exceptional tool for any level of professional to take some time and reexamine their “why.” LeaderShape gives us back our time to recenter ourselves as both staff and students, and ultimately can help shape the experience of someone’s tenure at NC State for the better. We want to give a huge shout-out to the team in Leadership and Civic Engagement for hosting this program and of course, to the whole NC State LeaderShape 2019 team for taking this journey with us.
Marcela Torres-Cervantes is assistant director for community outreach and engagement in Multicultural Student Affairs. John Robinson-Miller IV is program coordnator in the African American Cultural Center.