Story by Kimberly Hennen
Photo by Natalie Larson
Emerging leaders at Drake University can not only hold leadership positions on campus, but now they can include leadership as part of their undergraduate degree.
The Leadership, Education and Development (LEAD) concentration is entering its fifth semester and is gaining strength. As of this semester, 51 students have declared a LEAD concentration. Chair of LEAD and Professor of Education Thomas Westbrook emphasized that this program is unique to other concentrations at Drake.
“It’s purposely interdisciplinary,” Westbrook said. “We want as many voices as possible. We want to see the differences in what students may be leading.”
LEAD is not under any specific school or college for this reason.
A student must complete 20 credit hours of LEAD classes in order to obtain this concentration. Along with these 20 hours, there is an option for students to have a mentor and/or participate in a LEAD 199 class.
“Building relationships with the mentors is a key component, however it doesn’t always work,” Westbrook said. The mentor’s schedule is sometimes too difficult to match with the student’s schedule and therefore mentorship is not a requirement for every LEAD student.
Sarah Mooney, a junior health science major focusing on management, is a visual learner and admits that having a mentor has helped her better understand how to use leadership tools.
“To just hear her experiences about how she manages her workers helps me better put them into play,” Mooney said.
Not only has Mooney had the opportunity to connect with her mentor, but also to do LEAD 199 during her J-term or better known as LEAD at Sea. Director of Student Leadership Jan Wise, Mooney, Westbrook and 21 other Drake students set sail in the Bahamas in January.
One night on the boat, Mooney’s group had to watch a storm coming in. Every other person scurried around to tear down the sails, but Mooney’s group had to stay and watch. Mooney said she felt conflicted because as a leader she wanted to take charge.
“I learned when to take the back seat. When to trust. When to follow,” Mooney said.
Lessons like Mooney’s can be taught in the classroom as well. Director of Athletics Sandy Hatfield Clubb teaches LEAD 001, the introductory LEAD course. She acknowledges that leadership is first learning how to follow. Hatfield Clubb implements this in her classroom by organizing group conflict and resolution studies, which take a different look each semester depending on the dynamic of the class.
“This semester’s class is very energetic. We did an exercise where everyone was standing on chairs and shouting their beliefs,” Hatfield Clubb said. “I got tears in my eyes.”
LEAD has created many opportunities for its students that have an affect on real life situations. Last year’s 190 LEAD capstone initiated a plan to stop selling plastic bottles on campus. As a result, President David Maxwell passed the motion this year.
“We may be young,” Westbrook said, “but we are starting to build traditions.”