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LeaderShape program comes to Lehigh

When MyTresa Taylor ’15 first came to Lehigh, she would have described herself as shy, and as someone who felt powerless to change circumstances surrounding her.

But then a Student Affairs mentor recommended Taylor for the LeaderShape Institute, which took her to an intensive, weeklong program in Atlanta, Ga.

At LeaderShape, Taylor joined with other under-represented students who were encouraged to develop their leadership skills and refine their personal visions to help bring change to their communities and schools.

“The program was a good starting point to help me get comfortable with people,” Taylor said. “I attended by myself so that I could really break out of my comfort zone, and by day two, I knew everyone’s names in my cluster and I learned a lot about them.”

During each of the past 11 years, six Lehigh students have attended LeaderShape Institutes across the country. Now, for the first time since the program began at Lehigh, the university’s Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Student Leadership Development Office are bringing LeaderShape to Lehigh. The program will take place in May, and will be open to 60 students who can apply before the Feb. 28 deadline. The cost is $100 and scholarships will be made available to help defray costs.

Kristen Hyman, LeaderShape Institute director of Community Engagement., describes the LeaderShape as “not-for-profit organization with the mission to transform the world by increasing the number of people who lead with integrity and a healthy disregard for the impossible.”

The organization’s vision, she adds, helps guide their work toward a “just, caring, and thriving world where all lead with integrity and a healthy disregard for the impossible. We work towards our mission and vision through the programs we have to offer.”

Tyrone Russell, Lehigh’s director of Multicultural Affairs, has been involved with several classes of students who have gone through the LeaderShape program and who have made a significant contribution to the campus culture as a result of their experience.

“LeaderShape will be a powerful and transformational experience for not only our students, but for our faculty and staff involved as well,” he says. “These students will engage in critical dialogue that will undoubtedly impact their Lehigh experience and the way they view and interact with the world at large.”

The timing for bringing the LeaderShape program to Lehigh and expanding the number of students who can attend is ideal, says Assistant Dean of Students Christine Gravelle.

“LeaderShape allows you to have in-depth conversations about ideas and how to take action that need to be had on a day-to-day basis. It is crucial to the change happening and needed now at Lehigh,” she says.

A strong force behind LeaderShape coming to Lehigh is Angie Matos ‘12, a graduate assistant in the Office of Leadership Development. The idea struck two years ago while she was returning from a LeaderShape Institute in Lake Tahoe, Calif.

“The program helped me make connections and to understand what it means to motivate leadership,” Matos says. “By becoming more engaged in dialogue and keeping an open mind, students will be able to become involved and create change on campus. This is necessary for breaking down the silos of groups on campus, and creating a more inclusive leadership here on campus.”

Story by Sarah Siegel '14

Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2014

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