Instead of heading home after my last exam during finals week, I prepared for the commencement of the Presidential Leadership Academy, representing SGA. I joined 22 other organizational presidents, coming from all corners of the campus with different experiences and perspectives. It was interesting to hear each of their stories, understand them and their organizations, and find commonalities as well. While each president had a unique organizational and individual outlook, there was much we could learn from each other.
The academy was based off of four fundamental principles: empowering, purposeful, ethical, and inclusive leadership. Each day we dove into one of these topics and discussed how it related to our specific organizations. Each president came in as a leader with a mission for his or her particular organization, but we soon realized how similar we were in terms of how to be effective leaders. A variety of offices came to visit us as well. Their presentations were both meant to inform us about their resources, but also acted as an interactive discussion where we could give them feedback and ideas. We learned about JMU alumni, annual giving, public relations, and athletics to name a few.
Lastly, we had a number of team building and critical-thinking activities which helped us take a step back and see the big picture. After every activity, we were always asked to reflect, and during this time we all thought about how the activity could help us improve as leaders and as people. From the high-ropes course at the beginning of the week, to the frustrating stick assembly activity, to the night where we all opened up to one another, we were always asked to tie everything together. This week gave the presidents a new perspective both about the campus, but more importantly within themselves. There were several activities and ideas I saw myself bringing back to the SGA.
This week was a privilege and opportunity beyond any other at JMU. I not only networked and learned about becoming a more effective leader, but I also made lasting relationships with other president’s and offices. It was a privilege to be a part of such an interesting and dynamic group. We came in as leaders with a particular mission, but we left as a group of people beyond the leaders we came in to be. At the end of the week, I didn’t just see the individual leaders of organizations, but I saw a collaborative group of friends who were ready to take on JMU together.
– Matt Klein, Student Body President
Tweet @matthew_klein for questions.