The term “leadership” can sometimes just seem like a buzzword, something to put on your resume without a clear idea of whether or not you’re really a leader. It can also seem like a quality that you’re either born with or without. The Student Leadership Program (SLP) changes that; students actually learn what leadership is and how they can develop and apply leadership skills, as they would any other skills. I spoke to Megan Durdle, a current student who has participated in the program as both a participant and a facilitator, to find out more.
Q: What program and year are you in?
Megan: I am in Honours Psychology (Co-op) and will start my 2A term in the fall.
Q: You’ve been heavily involved with the SLP. Can you tell us a little bit about the program?
Megan: The Student Leadership Program is a series of 12 experiential workshops that allow participants to enhance their knowledge of leadership and further develop their leadership abilities. These workshops emphasize participant engagement in order to allow participants to immerse themselves in discussions, activities, and self-assessments. All students are encouraged to participate and will receive an e-certificate upon completion of all 12 workshops.
Q: Why did you get involved with the SLP, what’s your history with it?
Megan: I got involved with the SLP in my first year, back in September. I saw a posting for upcoming workshops at St. Jerome’s University, and I took the opportunity to learn more about the program because I wanted to get involved with leadership opportunities. I recognized myself as a leader and wanted to improve my knowledge about leadership, as well as gain self-awareness regarding my abilities as a leader. I knew I could learn a lot about myself through this program and was motivated to earn my e-certificate by the end of my first year.
I completed the program before finishing my first year, but still wanted to remain involved with the SLP. Using my experiences from the workshops, I became a facilitator. My experiences with the program and knowledge of the workshops will allow me to continue developing myself as a leader, while giving me the opportunity to share my passion for leadership with others!
Q: What was the experience of going from a participant to a facilitator like? What really stands out to you about your experience?
Megan: The experience of going from a participant to a facilitator was exciting! My dedication to the SLP allowed me to earn my e-certificate in my first year and build on my foundation of leadership. I am able to use what I learned in the workshops [as a participant] and apply it to the ones I facilitate. I was eager to complete training to be able to take the next step with the SLP and gain more experience with the program. What stands out to me is that I am able to use my experiences to guide how I facilitate workshops, while also drawing on the new things I learn from this position.
Q: How has your experience with the SLP helped you become more successful as a student?
Megan: My experience with the SLP helped me become a more successful student by helping me develop skills for academic success. The workshops revolve around self-reflection, which is the first step to success. It is important to frequently reflect on yourself to recognize your strengths and areas for improvement, in every aspect of your life. I learned that it is important to reflect on my experiences in order to set goals to succeed. Furthermore, each workshop provided me with skills for my classes. I was able to find success as a student because these workshops provided opportunities to develop presentation skills, effective communication habits, conflict resolution techniques, and more.
Q: Why should others get involved?
Megan: I encourage others to get involved because leadership is about learning. You become a better leader by taking the initiative to learn about leadership itself and by seeking new opportunities. Participants can reach their full potential as leaders through this opportunity for personal and professional development.
Two other students who have had their own positive experiences with the SLP are Chelsea Carpio and Jhotisha Mugon. They have gotten even further involved with the program, going from facilitators to team leaders.
Chelsea became a facilitator in 2016, after her first year, when she came across the SLP while looking at other leadership opportunities within the Student Success Office. She was interested in teaching, and she thought a facilitation role would be very conducive to that goal. Chelsea took on the extra responsibility of becoming a team leader because she wanted a new leadership experience, a chance to lead a new team in a new way. She also wanted to share her experiences with the SLP, having been with the program for quite some time.
Jhotisha, on the other hand, started the SLP while working toward her undergraduate degree and finished it while working toward her graduate degree. She wanted to get a good overview of leadership from a diverse perspective, and she became a facilitator in 2015, when she wanted to learn more about facilitation and teaching. Jhotisha then became a team leader; she wanted the experience of coaching people on a one-on-one basis, which she gets to do when she’s training others. She also wanted to improve training and get involved in content review and development.
Each student involved with the SLP has their own unique history and experience with it, but one thing is clear: these passionate leaders don’t regret getting involved. Did you know you can also learn about the journeys of all of the SLP facilitators?
Want to register for SLP workshops? Those taking place this term are now full, but you can sign up to receive an update when workshop registration opens for the fall term.
For more stories featuring student leaders like Megan, Chelsea, and Jhotisha, check out the leadership tag on the UWaterloo Life blog!