Changing Lives One Student at a Time

10/15/2012 12:00 AM ,

Read an update on Brennen’s story here.

Discovering The Student Leadership Challenge® as a junior in high school, I had no idea the extent to which it would change my life and my leadership practices. Now, as a senior at Stanford University, I continue to reap many benefits from the powerful experience this program has provided and the practical tools I have available every day to put The Five Practices of Exemplary Student Leadership® into action.

My leadership journey began during my final years of secondary education when I was heavily involved in Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), a non-profit student leadership organization. Each day, I was interacting with peers and teammates in some form of group or leadership capacity. And I knew I could be better in those situations, that I could accomplish more if I developed my skills as a leader. After many searches for a leadership measurement tool that I could use for self-improvement, I finally discovered the Student Leadership Practices Inventory® (Student LPI®). It became the primary tool I used—and continue to use—to measure my leadership behaviors and set about taking steps to improve.

I began with the Student LPI to help me figure out just where I was in my leadership development. For me, the strongest aspects of the Student LPI were the metrics it provided of my leadership behaviors, as seen and measured through the eyes of my mentors, supervisors, and peers. The Student LPI 360 assessment gave me a clear view of what I needed to do to improve my leadership effectiveness by showing me, through these key metrics, how others I was working with side-by-side saw me behave in a leadership role. Using the Student LPI truly opened my eyes to my potential as a leader. It was all a revolutionary time in developing my leadership style. Incorporating The Five Practices of Exemplary Student Leadership, learnings from my Student LPI, and other resources that are part of this comprehensive program, I became a better leader, a better team member, and was able to help my peers improve their own leadership practices as well.

After launching my personal leadership revolution in high school, I took the leadership practices I learned through The Student Leadership Challenge and my new ideas about what effective leadership really means to Stanford University. From freshman year to this day, the continuous pace of school, work, team projects, and extracurricular activities have all been influenced by my personal leadership style. For example, I have used my leadership practices in on-campus theater productions. Theater at Stanford often includes a strict rehearsal schedule of two to three hours each day of the week. With such a schedule piled onto already existing school work and other pressures, many people get worn down and tired. Identifying this group problem, I was able to determine how to utilize The Five Practices in the appropriate way. Encourage the Heart was most important in reviving my theater group, to encourage a greater team dynamic with renewed energy and enthusiasm for our final product—the show.

I also incorporate the use of The Five Practices when I work in a group on a school project. Every group progresses through stages of combined team effort to reach their goal: beginning with what often can look like a certain degree of team collaboration before quickly turning into conflict or an imbalance of teammate responsibilities, and then ultimately resolution to productivity. In my teams, I often think through The Five Practices in order to have rapid team collaboration and to produce outstanding work. The Student Leadership Challenge has continually challenged me to think in this way—in every situation and circumstance—and learn from my mistakes. My peers often now give me feedback, either formally or informally, which is something I have grown to learn from and appreciate more as I continue to integrate The Student Leadership Challenge more fully into all aspects of my life. 

As I have begun my transition from school to the professional world, my Student Leadership Challenge experience has continually contributed to my success. After one year at Stanford I had the opportunity to intern at Wiley, the publisher of The Student Leadership Challenge. At the publishing company I had an in-depth view of how the leadership materials and practices were transforming the lives of so many students. I strategically thought about ways to distribute The Five Practices to even more students because of my own experience and personal success.

Looking to my final year at Stanford, I am still reminded of the many ways in which The Student Leadership Challenge has helped me grow and expand my leadership knowledge. My team collaboration skills and interactions with my peers have improved dramatically since the first day I discovered this powerful program in high school. And my own development has fueled my desire to teach others. In my pursuit of professional work I will continue to emphasize my transferable leadership skills to the workplace and strive to influence my peers by teaching The Five Practices of Exemplary Student Leadership.

My close ties to The Student Leadership Challenge and my strong belief in the success of The Five Practices have inspired my constant activism and promotion. I see my story as just one of tens of thousands of others that show how The Student Leadership Challenge can change lives. 

Brennen Clouse
Brennen Clouse
is a rising senior at Stanford University where he is studying Human Biology, with a concentration on Ethical Issues of Neuroscience. Among his varied student internships, he has worked with such leading health organizations as the National Center for Ethics in Health Care and the Pan American Health Organization. He is often thinking about food, vegetarianism, and how the marketing of foods and beverages affects the obesity epidemic in America. In his free time—when he’s not participating in theater, non-profit work, research, traveling, or cycling—Brennen loves to read leadership self-improvement books. Follow him on Twitter @BrennenClouse.

Category: Success Stories

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– Suzanne Von Behren, RN, BSN, University Wellness Services
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– Jason R. Pierce, director of education
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– Dan Mulhern, Distinguished Practitioner of Law and Business
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"As a Student Leadership Challenge Certified Facilitator I am excited about using these books to further aid me in developing curriculum and giving our students a tool to acknowledge and reflect on the concepts as they pertain to their own capacity to lead effectively."
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"In our public service leadership programs and courses we will be able to easily use the many relevant and engaging activities and reflection exercises provided in this workbook. It will enable our students to better engage with and benefit from The Student Leadership Challenge, and will also help foster their personal leadership development journeys."
– Jon McConnell, associate director,
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"A fantastic resource for leadership educators looking to further develop students’ understanding of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership in a tangible, hands-on way! It offers engaging activities that are sure to make an impact on your student leaders. This activity book is a great supplement to The Student Leadership Challenge, bringing the original concepts off the page and into the real world.
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– Kimberly Piatt, coordinator of leadership development
The College at Brockport.

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