Academy helps students gain leadership skills

Michelle Moore

If one is looking for a way to build leadership skills and the tools needed to apply them, look no farther than the Kent State Stark Student Leadership Academy.

The Student Leadership Academy is designed to help students develop valuable skills future employers are looking for: communication, motivation, goal setting and presentation skills.

Kristi Yerian, coordinator for student life, developed the program her first year at the Stark campus. With the addition of a full-time student activities coordinator, the campus hoped to develop social and leadership programs. Yerian looked back to her own student activities and realized the value of leadership experience.

“It’s definitely something that I wanted to see happen on campus,” she said. “Programs such as these are vital to helping students build transferable skills that employers are looking for.”

The program began four years ago with a couple of sessions in the first two semesters. It has gradually grown to the point of now offering 10 sessions each semester.

Monica Conley, senior art education major, participated in the program during the Spring 2007 semester. She said the experience, information and interaction gained from the sessions she attended are invaluable.

“The job market has become increasingly competitive,” she said in an e-mail interview. “Knowing what companies look for in potential employees via cover letters, resumes and interviews will be priority-determining factors in whether or not you land the job you are seeking.”

The program offers a variety of sessions to help students develop the skills they’ll need in the competitive job market.

Tana Silla, senior organizational communications major and Diebold, Inc. intern, said she was able to take the information that was presented at the workshops and apply them in everyday life.

“I am currently doing an internship, and the methods that they had suggested during the stress management, internship and team building sessions were very helpful,” she said in an e-mail interview. “I was able to carry it over into my working environment.”

The program recently became a co-sponsored event between the Offices of Student Life and Career Services.

Now, when students participate in seven or more sessions, they receive a Certificate of Leadership, $25 Kent State Stark bookstore certificate and dinner with the dean.

“The growth of the program in the past year has been very exciting and rewarding to see,” Yerian said.

She said the ability to accumulate the seven sessions over two semesters has contributed to the increased enrollment in the program.

A relatively new addition to the program is the employer roundtable. The career services director works with the Canton Chamber of Commerce to bring professionals to the campus to talk to students. The professionals discuss their college experiences, their first jobs and give the students tips for success.

“Meeting members of the Stark County Chamber of Commerce was also very important to me,” Conley said. “Through these young business professionals, I gained a great appreciation for the networking process amongst other professionals.”

The fall sessions are being held during October. The registration deadline is Sept. 28.

Contact regional campuses reporter Michelle Moore at [email protected].