As a second-year graduate student in St. Thomas’ Leadership in Student Affairs program, as well as a graduate student employee for Residence Life and the Anderson Student Center, my involvement with Student Leadership Selection has been an incredibly rewarding professional experience.
For the past two years, I have had the pleasure of interviewing undergraduate students for Tommie Central staff, and resident assistant and apartment coordinator positions. As I witness these students showcasing their many strengths, I cannot help but reminisce about my undergraduate years and the many life-altering lessons I gained as a result of on-campus leadership positions.
Setting foot on the UW-Eau Claire campus for the first time, I recall the importance of “getting involved” and “adding experiences to (my) resume” – mantras instilled in me by campus mentors. Having successfully attained positions with Admissions, Student Senate and my residence hall, I took for granted how those experiences would influence my entire outlook on life – motivating me to study abroad, apply for graduate school and ultimately pursue a career in student affairs.
However, earning such leadership opportunities was not necessarily easy. Looking back, I remember the tediousness and anxiety elicited by the student leadership selection processes. They occurred around the same time (typically the beginning and end of the academic year), and most required identical materials (resume, cover letter, list of references and supplemental application questions). As a result, students spent countless hours applying for, interviewing and awaiting the results of various positions across campus.
Back then, I never would have thought student leadership recruitment would gain more digital momentum. Rather than applying for positions individually via email, many institutions now offer an online, centralized leadership selection process. One aspect I enjoy about Student Leadership Selection at St. Thomas are the promotional posters. They are a great way to showcase the alter egos of current student leaders and they outline the leadership opportunities conveniently available to students. On the Student Leadership Selection website, students click once and are presented with 15 leadership possibilities – the kind that could very well change their lives forever.
Not only does Student Leadership Selection benefit students but it also promotes interdepartmental collaboration among staff. I have gained valuable insight into the specific qualities that departments look for in student leaders. As a result, in working with students, I am able to help tailor their position to produce desired leadership qualities. I believe that Student Leadership Selection, like all initiatives at St. Thomas, aims first and foremost to fulfill our institutional mission – to help students think critically, act wisely, and work skillfully to advance the common good.
As I look ahead to my career after graduating in May from St. Thomas, I hope my next institution offers a similar initiative – one ascertaining leadership opportunities available to students and emphasizing the importance those positions have on their holistic development. Although my undergraduate years seem forever ago, I know I would not be where I am today without the experiences I gained through on-campus leadership. I hope students graduate from St. Thomas knowing their leadership involvement here will enhance their opportunities to serve as the leaders of tomorrow.