Forum teaches students what it takes to be a leader

by Alicia CarloStaff Writer

A group of students is getting a chance to learn more about leadership and learn while participating hands on in the Simpson Leadership Forum class this spring.

Bobby Nalean, leadership and service coordinator for CVIL, is teaching the class along with Walter Lain, assistant dean for multicultural and international affairs.

According to the syllabus, the class is a one credit hour pass/fail class that is geared toward developing student leadership skills and campus involvement. Students will analyze and develop their own personal leadership potential while understanding ethical decision making, goal setting, and cultural diversity.

“We want to create an atmosphere of leadership around campus getting students involved and furthering their leadership styles and abilities,” Lain said.

Lain says the class is also about emotionally intelligent leadership combining theories and traditional thoughts of leadership.

The class is very discussion based, and students are encouraged to share personal experiences. According to Nalean, this enables students to teach each other.

“My personal goal, for students who take the class, will recognize their own potential for leadership,” Nalean said. “They will learn about the skills, community effects, and how working with others to bring about change.”

Freshman Tracy Sibbel took the class last semester when it was only offered to freshman. She thought it would be a good opportunity to get involved.

“The class focused on qualities of a leader,” Sibbel said. “Anyone can be a leader, you just need to take the first step. The class gave me the motivation to do something with myself.”

In the class, students divide into groups to do a final project. The groups identify a community need and then devise an appropriate response. Then they develop an implementation plan. The community need must be an issue that affects Simpson College students in some way.

Nalean does not expect the groups to follow through on their plan but hopes they make that plan a reality.

Last semester’s groups did projects about student expression and how the forum calendar is created.

Sibbel was part of the group that worked with the forum calendar. They did research on how it was created, thought about what Simpson students were getting out of it and how they could get students more involved in the choices being made.

The other group focused on student expression and having things like art pieces, stories, and poetry being displayed so others could see it. The group is still working together this semester to implement their action plan.

“I’m really inspired by their efforts and staying together after class,” Nalean said. “It makes the class special.”

The class is different from that of others because it meets only once a week and has 10-15 students taught by two instructors.

Sibbel said that the students lead the group discussions and that the instructors are more focused on what the students want to happen in class.

Junior Mike Christensen believes that it is a different class than he has taken before, in that it is pretty laid-back.

“There isn’t a lot of structure and most of it is made up of open discussion, which I feel is conducive to an effective learning environment,” Christensen said. “It’s clear that Bobby and Walter are passionate about the course and want us all to do well.”

Nalean suggests that anyone who is interested in becoming more involved or learning about leadership and how to better themselves as a leader should consider taking the class.

Sibbel thinks that whoever takes the class should come into it wanting to do better.

“You get out of it what you put into it,” Sibbel said.