University of Tennessee Martin Comes Together in Celebration to Join the Worldwide Fight Against Cancer
3/18/2013 12:00 AM ,
At the University of Tennessee at Martin, we are on a quest to create a “language of leadership,” and The Student Leadership Challenge plays a crucial role in helping us achieve that goal. Across campus, in a variety of classrooms and programs, approximately 350 students every year engage in learning about, understanding, internalizing, and applying The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® to campus life and beyond. And among those hundreds of students are participants in our Leaders in Residence program.
Each year, promising first term, first-year students who have been awarded the Leaders in Residence Scholarship come together in the Leaders in Residence program for a highly interactive leadership experience. This includes service initiatives, field trips, campus involvement opportunities, and the creative delivery of The Five Practices. Led by a team of Student Affairs professionals who teach and facilitate all components of the program, participating students learn and internalize the principles and practices of The Student Leadership Challenge, apply what they have learned through a series of service initiatives, and enhance their leadership skills by seeking out innovative ways to improve. All students are encouraged to participate in various campus and community service initiatives, giving them the opportunity to experience first-hand the significance of Modeling the Way, Inspiring a Shared Vision, Challenging the Process, Enabling Others to Act, and Encouraging the Heart.
For the 35 students who were part of our program during the Spring Semester of 2012 The Five Practices were brought to life in a truly unique way as we participated in the 2nd Annual UT Martin Collegiate Relay for Life. When our program’s facilitation team was offered the chance to involve the Leaders in Residence group in the upcoming Relay for Life event we jumped at the chance. We immediately saw this as the perfect opportunity for students to become engaged in something that would take their leadership experience to a new level. But to make this event a success, it would take more than just one or two people; it would take the whole campus working together toward a common goal. And to achieve that, we were reminded of the words of Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner in their book, The Student Leadership Challenge: “Leaders know that in order to get extraordinary things done everyone has to fervently believe in and commit to a common purpose.” As a leadership team, we knew we had to find a way to make our students passionate about the cause and motivate them to want to make this event better.
First, we had to get the students’ buy-in, which is what Inspire a Shared Vision is all about. We had to bring this idea to life and get every student as excited about it as we were. We began by sharing our own personal stories of how cancer has affected our families and friends, and what a difference our participation in this Relay for Life event could make. Our message was that cancer has a face, and it touches all of us, and the challenge was to make others realize that we all can be a part of the fight! We can help defeat cancer and save lives by raising money and hosting this event. Not long after our initial conversation, the Leaders in Residence students took the bull by the horns and ran with it! They were just as inspired as we were. They used their involvement in various groups and organizations to make connections across campus, encouraging others to participate in the event, donate money, and make a difference in the fight against cancer. What began as one person’s proposal to involve our Leaders in Residence class ultimately became an entire university’s triumph!
The group divided into five committees—each responsible for a different aspect of the event: team development, logistics and set-up, activities and entertainment, fundraising, and event management. Each committee of about six students was challenged to work as a team toward a common goal—something that can be especially difficult for individuals who like to be in control. Our students, however, worked seamlessly together and were able to develop innovative ideas that definitely contributed to our overall success.
For example, the Activities Committee collaborated on several creative activities and with leadership provided by Gina McClure, Director of Campus Recreation at UT Martin and Certified Facilitator of The Student Leadership Challenge, clearly set an example of how to Enable Others to Act. This group was solely responsible for activities and entertainment throughout the night—a big job since their primary responsibility was to keep people motivated, entertained, and engaged. They began by developing a series of “minute to win it” games: potato sack races, the cup stack, balancing dice, and more. Most students were unfamiliar with some of the games that were going to be played. And since Gina was not going to be able to attend the Relay event herself, she had to teach the students how to play each of the games and how to manage all of the activities throughout the night. As she provided them with the proper tools and information they would need to be fully prepared to take on the role of leading others in the scheduled activities, she was enabling others to act. Prior to the event, Gina worked with the group for an entire class period playing the games, making sure everyone understood the rules, and that everyone felt comfortable knowing how things were supposed to be done. She gave her students an opportunity to shine and to be in control. She put her trust in them, knowing that they would do a wonderful job. Gina enabled this group of aspiring young leaders by giving them the tools, the knowledge, and the opportunity to be individual leaders who could have a sense of ownership and contribute to the overall success of the event.
For all of our students who participated in the UT Martin Collegiate Relay for Life, this was truly a unique opportunity to lead in a way they never had before. As we debriefed the experience, many students shared their initial feelings of being overwhelmed by all of the details and long lists of things to do. Once they were at the event and everything was over, however, they felt empowered and strengthened. They were challenged to embark on a project that at first glance seemed overwhelming, but in the end became a celebration toward the worldwide fight against cancer!
Watch our video to view more of the fun at UT Martin’s Collegiate Relay for Life event.
For our Student Affairs team, this event represented a powerful leadership experience for students. Planning and preparation was immense. It challenged students in everything from teamwork to innovation. And throughout the process, The Five Practices were fully integrated into the learning experience as students put the Practices into action at every turn. They mobilized, they struggled, and their shared aspirations became a reality.
The Student Affairs Team at University of Tennessee at Martin include:
David Belote, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, directs The Student Leadership Challenge and Leaders in Residence programs; Marty Conley, Program Assistant for the Division of Student Affairs and co-facilitator for the Leaders in Residence program; Gina McClure, Director of Campus Recreation, co-facilitates a Leaders in Residence class; Eric Simmons, Assistant Director of Campus Recreation, also co-facilitates a Leaders in Residence class.
Category: Success Stories