Unlike many students, Sam Klemarczyk didn’t choose to enroll at the University of Rhode Island because of the beautiful campus or the rigorous academics or the hands-on learning opportunities. He picked URI because he could minor in leadership studies.
“I had done a lot of service and leadership development programs before college, and I knew it was something I wanted to pursue further,” said Sam, a senior communication studies major. “The program is filled with some amazing role models, and having their support has helped me succeed tremendously.”
“Not all leaders lead in the same way,” said Boyd-Colvin. “The program helps students find their own path to leadership.”
The Center for Student Leadership Development provides students with opportunities to learn about themselves as students and leaders—and to develop and apply core skills in their chosen disciplines. “We give them practice in the classroom and on campus to be ready for whatever is next in their lives,” said Melissa Boyd-Colvin, assistant director of the Center. “We provide them with leadership opportunities at the depth or level that they’re ready for.”
Students who participate in the program begin by learning about their strengths and values and how to put them to work in numerous leadership settings. They may choose to participate in a three-day Leadership Institute the first weekend they arrive on campus, develop teamwork through the North Woods Challenge Course, or become a Student Organization Leadership Consultant.
“The programs help them gain a real sense of community,” said Boyd-Colvin. “They’re with other students who want to make a difference. They gain critical thinking skills, an understanding of what makes groups function as teams, and practice leading that makes them marketable down the road.”
Senior public relations major Phyllis Pasquale got involved as a freshman, and she said the leadership program helped her discover what she excels in and realize her primary areas of interest. “I joined for the skills it provides, but also for the kind of people I would be around—active, involved and motivated,” she said.
Alain Audate did, too. The sophomore business administration major saw the program as a way to make connections with other student leaders and find his true potential. “It’s been a great experience that has not only helped me meet some great peers, but it has also helped me learn a lot about myself. It’s pushing me to use my strengths in the community,” he said.
The program attracts a diverse population of students. Not all were outgoing, super-involved in high school. Many who don’t initially see themselves as leaders are encouraged to join. “Not all leaders lead in the same way,” said Boyd-Colvin. “The program helps students find their own path to leadership.”
The same is true of those who choose to minor in leadership studies—they come from every academic major, they can enroll at nearly any point in their academic career, and many are referred to the program by faculty and staff.
“If you choose to follow the leadership minor path, it will help you achieve all the things you hope to as a student leader,” Sam concluded. “But get started practicing your student leadership at the soonest opportunity. You’ll get connected with some of the most inspiring folks on campus.”