Student leadership training

LaTasha Brand, assistant dean of students, leads the leadership session for presidents and vice presidents. She went over changes in policies, important dates and other information for student organization leaders.
Lauren Owens
LaTasha Brand, assistant dean of students, leads the leadership session for presidents and vice presidents. She went over changes in policies, important dates and other information for student organization leaders.

The Office of Student Affairs hosted a training session for student organization leaders on Saturday, Aug. 29 in Chapman Auditorium.

The training session was designed to help the presidents, vice presidents and officers of different organizations on campus. The session focused on providing tools and tips for student leaders to help them build and improve their organizations, as well as creating connections with other organizations.

“The [purpose of the] leadership training was to provide more tools to have a connected environment to show that we are a community,” Cody Simpson, coordinator for student engagement, said.

In previous years, the leadership training session has been similar to a seminar or lecture. This year, the focus was on having the students participate in the training and have them interact with the speakers and each other.

“Students haven’t experienced this before,” Simpson said. “We want to challenge students and their organizations. We wanted to get everyone together so they realize they aren’t doing their jobs alone.”

The program began with a welcome from Teresa Ramey, dean of students. Ramey gave a brief overview of the session before introducing the keynote speaker, Nicholas Sturdifen, the president of Life Push, LLC.

Life Push provides services for leaders and officers designed for different levels of leadership including students and CEOs of major corporations, and Sturdifen focused his talk on the idea that “success is a perspective away.”

“It showed us many ways to approach roles that leaders have and how a leader must be open-minded and willing to change,” Zac Greenwood, a member of the FMU Diplomats, said.

Following the opening session, the attendants were separated into three groups: advisors; presidents and vice presidents; and secretaries and treasurers. The session for presidents and vice presidents was led by Dr. Daphne Carter-McCants, assistant dean of students, and the session for secretaries and treasurers was led by LaTasha Brand, assistant dean of students. The advisors’ session was led by Ramey and Chief Donald Tarbell.

Each student session covered changes in student affairs policies and other housekeeping items before transitioning into more job-specific training.

“Dean Brand encouraged us to always be in the mindset of a leader instead of just working when on the job,” Kennon Strowd, a member of Baptist Collegiate Ministry’s leadership team, said.

The job-specific training was led by Sturdifen in the presidents and vice presidents session and his wife, Kaylin Sturdifen, in the secretaries and treasurers session.

The Sturdifens focused on what the job of each officer is and how the students can maximize their organization’s potential. They asked the students what they believed the role of a successful student leader was. Students responded with phrases like “to give direction to [the organization],” “to keep [the organization’s] members accountable” and “to hold [the organization] to a certain standard.”

The speakers added to the list and expanded on each point. They explained that the students’ responsibility as leaders is to train the next generation of leaders and leave a legacy for their organization to continue.

“What I will pull from this training is a way of building up others and paving the way for the people I will have to pass [my organization] down to,” Samuel Smoot, president of the Student Government Association (SGA), said.

The Sturdifens also used personal experiences to show how leaders in different fields all have the same basic responsibilities and face similar challenges. Nicholas Sturdifen talked about his time as a student leader at Averett University in Danville, Va., and how that prepared him for his career after graduation. Kaylin Sturdifen shared similar stories about her time in SGA at Averett University.

“[The training session was beneficial] because it forces you to think a different way,” Sarah Baxi, president of the Business Leaders of Francis Marion, said. “[We] gained experience from their stories and experiences.”