SDSU sophomores in the lead

Ellen Nelson

Ellen NelsonNews Editor

In an effort to promote success of students’ second year of college and assist guiding sophomore students in leadership roles, SDSU has implemented a new program, LeadState.

It aims at developing and strengthening leadership qualities in students in order to utilize those skills and spread them across campus to students and into their futures.

“This program will really help students strengthen and utilize the traits that they already have to lead their community and to live in society,” said Nick Wendell, assistant director for student activities.

The idea for the program began a few years ago with brainstorming of what SDSU considers leadership building and how to get sophomore students more involved, Wendell said.

“SDSU does such a phenomenal job at welcoming freshmen students and supplying them with various events and activities to make them feel welcome, we were really looking for a way to extend that into their sophomore year,” Wendell said.

Although there are various institutional leadership programs across the country, Wendell and the Student Affairs staff did their homework and took a comprehensive look at pros and cons of all aspects of leadership programs. The result is to have LeadState focus on the teachings the scholarly research called “social change model of leadership development” by Susan Komives.

The program consists of more than 50 students who are recruited by faculty and staff during their freshmen year who obtain leadership characteristics. These individuals then are invited to be a part of the LeadState program.

Shelly Bayer, faculty member of LeadState, wanted to be part of the program to work at a deeper level with students. Teaching and getting to know students in the classroom is just hitting the surface of who they are, she said. Through the one-on-one interviews and cluster sessions, Bayer said she will know students better.

LeadState started off the school year by attending their fall retreat to Lake Poinsett’s retreat center, Friday Sept. 10, until Saturday, Sept. 11. About 52 sophomore LeadState students attended the retreat.

“I really enjoyed it,” said Rebecca Naasz, an agriculture education major from Platte. “Already they’ve been teaching us about our personal goals… I think I’ll get to know a lot about myself.”

Throughout the year, students involved in the program are assigned into clusters of six to eight people. Clusters are led by two faculty members and plan to meet once or twice a month to participate in discussions and activities about their personal definitions of what group values are, change, strengths and more.

“Leadership isn’t positional, it has a lot more to do with what your own goals and personal strengths are,” Wendell said.

Cluster sessions are a foundation to the program to enable students to accurately identify what their personal strengths are and to set specific goals to achieve.

Although only available for sophomore students, LeadState is not a program for a specific type of student, Wendell sad. Student recruitment of the LeadState program incorporates staff and faculty across the entire spectrum of campus. Wendell said that students from every corner of the institution are recruited, creating a diversified representation of campus.

LeadState is mutually supported by Academic and Student Affairs.

#1.1599613:2464766998.jpg:Sophomore leaders gathered to kick-off the year?s LeadState program.:Sophomore leaders gathered to kick-off the year?s LeadState program. Students will build and develop their leadership qualities.:Submitted photo#1.1599616:185285143.jpg:LeadState members watch the sun set over Lake Poinsett during their fall retreat.:LeadState members watch the sun set over Lake Poinsett during their fall retreat. More than 50 students participated in the two day event.:Submitted Photo