When Kimberly Sumner first enrolled in the Collin College Student Leadership Academy (SLA), the Plano resident’s first inclination was that it would look great on her resume. But like many before have delightfully realized, the Student Leadership Academy is much more than a note on a resume.
“This course has had a major impact on my life because it made me step out of my comfort zone,” Sumner said. Now at the University of North Texas studying to become a forensic accountant, Sumner continued, “SLA helped me to realize I can achieve my goals by not giving up and working hard.”
According to Professor Meredith Martin, who teaches the course, SLA provides opportunities that not only define who students are – both professionally and personally – but also identify the type of leadership qualities they admire and aspire to emulate. “The academy truly embodies a holistic approach to creating strong leaders,” said Martin.
A Decade of Nurturing Leaders
Fortunately for Collin College students, the college’s SLA program has continued to nurture future leaders in this way for 10 years.
Professor Jenny Warren, who also teaches the course, makes it a point to not only teach SLA students about leadership but also to allow them the opportunity to practice becoming leaders.
In doing so, Warren said, her students try various leadership styles and are able to figure out how different situations, followers and goals often dictate the most effective way to lead. Students are also required to spend at least 10 hours with a mentor and attend a Collin College Board of Trustees meeting.
“In these instances, students are granted access to leaders in the community, both to observe and network with them,” Warren continued. “I want them to be able to apply their new-found knowledge.”
A Unique Learning Experience
Each semester, SLA students accomplish this goal and other professors’ objectives through assigned readings such as those from the Harvard Business School and the Wall Street Journal on topics such as communication, leadership styles, diversity, vision development, strategic planning, relationship building, group dynamics, wellness and stress management and problem solving. In addition, students gain invaluable knowledge about the importance of goal setting and values, social responsibility, community service and volunteerism, making choices that lead to success and defining the importance of ethics.
“What I enjoyed most about being involved in SLA were the people and the experiences we had together, from having to reach out to people I didn’t know to see if they would be interested in talking to a class of college students to helping the girl next to me build her confidence in order to jump off a pole during the ropes course,” said Sumner, who was also a member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society while attending Collin College.
Students interested in the Student Leadership Academy must have a desire to work hard, a commitment to personal leadership development, at least a 2.5 cumulative grade point average and must submit an application for the program.
For more information, contact the Center for Scholarly & Civic Engagement at collin.edu/academics/sla.