Engaging Tomorrow's Leaders

Cishella Durling Welcome everybody to another episode in the Student Affairs Podcast series. My name is Cishella Durling, and I'm going to be your host again. I'm looking forward to this interview today. We're going to be talking with Bri Lucas, who is the Senior Program Coordinator for Student Leadership within the Office of Student Involvement. So, I'm really excited to talk with Bri today about some of the leadership opportunities and programs that the Office of Student Involvement offers. So, we're going to go ahead and dive right into this. Bri, thank you so much for joining us today. And the first question I have is what are some of the programs, specifically those leadership programs, that the Office of Student Involvement offers to students here at the University of Louisville?

Brianna Lucas Yeah, awesome. Thank you so much for having me. Like she said, my name is Bri Lucas. I use she/her pronouns, and I'm so excited to be able to even have this opportunity to talk about our programs because I'm very excited about them! We've done a couple of, you know, new things with them for this upcoming fall. So, I'm really excited to talk about that. But to your question of what are some programs that we have?

We actually have three different ones that students can choose from. So, the 1st two, more specifically, they're going through a little bit of a rebrand, which is exciting. So, they used to be called Freshmen LEAD and Task Force Freshman, but now they're going to be called Cards Lead and then Advance UofL. So, Cards Lead is the one that focuses more on student engagement, academic engagement, planning events on campus and how to get involved in that sense with like community service. And then advance UofL is more of a sneak peek into student government and policy making on campus and change making in that way. And then the last one that we have is Collaborator to Leader. So, that one is for upperclassmen. So, with Cards Lead and Advance UofL those are specifically for first year students, but then Collaborator to Leader is the one that students can do if they're sophomores and up. And that one focuses on the concept of followership and how you don't have to be this front leader all the time. You could be someone that can help lead within your team and you don't necessarily have to be, you know, the executive director or things like that. So those are the three programs that we have.

Cishella Durling That's amazing. I did not realize that there were so many different ones. These are amazing opportunities for students to take advantage of. What would you say are some skills that students would take away from participating in one of these leadership programs?

Brianna Lucas Yes, lots of skills. But I would like to probably touch on the community service aspect, engagement aspects and then leadership theory and understanding. So those are three things that we felt like a lot of students were coming out and saying, ‘Hey, I want to get more involved,’ you know, in the community or ‘Oh, I don't really understand,’ you know, different leadership theories. ‘I feel like I'm a good leader, but I don't know how to explain it.’ And so, we wanted to give people the opportunity to learn more about that and specifically in their first years because a lot of these students are coming in from high school and they're like, ‘I did all these really cool things and now I'm trying to figure out what I want to do,’ you know, on a college campus. And so, this is our way of kind of introducing them to different areas on campus. What are some other offices you can get involved in? And then obviously we do let them know about our Student Government Association and the different branches they could choose from. But I would definitely say those three things, community service, academic engagement, and then leadership theory and understanding. And the academic engagement part, what that means for us is really connecting them to different resources on campus, like Reach tutoring and their academic advisors and all these different things that they have available to them; because sometimes it's overwhelming and we want to kind of break it down a little bit and show them it is tangible to use all these resources and you probably will need them in your time here, anyway. So, we want to make sure that you have a good introduction to that.

Cishella Durling I absolutely agree. And there are lifelong skills that can be applied to currently as they're figuring out their path in the Cardinal community and then they can take that outside. So that's wonderful that you guys offer these programs that help students learn these skills. So, if a student wants to go about participating in these programs, how do they do that?

Brianna Lucas Yeah, that's a great question. So, with our first-year leadership programs, a lot of our recruitment comes from Orientation over the summer. And then during Welcome Week when they first get back to campus. So, during Orientation, we do a lot of different sessions in the evenings and that's when they get to meet some of our current students that are involved in Student Involvement. But then we also get to show them different materials that they would be learning throughout that program. So, Welcome Week orientation is the best time to really get more information. But like I said during Welcome Week, we'll have a lot of different informational sessions that students can pop into and learn more about them.

And then after that, once they go through Orientation and Welcome Week, specifically for the first-year students, they'll get access to Engage. And that platform is where you can look up different student organizations and branches and things like that. So, they'll be able to essentially apply on the Engage platform and it's just a quick little application, nothing too crazy. And then it kind of, states their interest in the programs and why they want to join it. Then they'll be selected at that point and then we get rolling right away in the fall. And the exciting thing about these programs that we're changing is that they used to be that they would join in the fall and then that was the only time that they could join, and it would be for a whole year. But now we recognize that that's not the most accessible way and we're not getting as many students as we possibly can through these programs. So, I'm really excited that now we're going to roll out a semesterly based program. We'll have one cohort in the fall and then one in the spring. So, say for example, if this student’s like ‘I’m not ready to join anything just yet in the fall, I kind of want to get used to school first.’ That's totally OK because you can join us in the spring. So, I'm really excited about that. Also, I was doing joins in the fall, and if they want to join Advance UofL in the spring instead and kind of switch programs, they can do that. So now you have that option to kind of get a 2 for one which is nice. So, I'm really excited about that. And then C2L, the Collaborator to Leader, that one's just ongoing in general, they can actually join at any point. So, if they were like ‘oh, I need to wait until October and November’, that's totally OK. They can join at any point. We're trying to make it as accessible as possible, but I would definitely say if they want to learn more, it would be during Orientation and Welcome Week and then they can always stop by our office on the third floor of the Student Activity Center as well.

Cishella Durling I really appreciate that your office is so mindful of that accessibility and how you have adapted to really tailor these programs so that they're benefiting the students. That's wonderful. Yeah, so last question for you: Why should a student consider participating in one of these? We talked about some of the skills that they could gain, but I feel like there's got to be some more incentives and some more reasons. So, can you talk about that?

Brianna Lucas Yeah. So, they, I mean besides, like you said, the different skills that I mentioned of getting more connected to campus and community service and things like that; honestly just becoming part of something bigger than yourself. I think coming to such a large school, for some people, that's really overwhelming, and they don't even know where to start. But the good thing is, is that we have undergraduate students that will be helping with these programs that are upperclassmen. And so, you get that mentorship piece, which is really nice. Also just getting better connected to other peers that are going through the same thing that you're going through and learning how to be an adult on your own on a college campus. And so, you'll have that cohort-based feel, which is really nice. And I know a lot of the students that we've had in the past, they made great friendships in these programs. And then you see them continue to do more leadership things throughout their other years, you know, so we are really excited to offer that for students. And then we have different off campus retreats that we do. So, you get access to getting off campus for a little bit and learning more about the UofL community in general because sometimes you come to school, and you just come for the school and you might not know more about the city that you're in. So, we're excited to kind of take students off campus once this semester and do a little bit of a retreat. And then we always have some type of an incentive of, you know, T-shirts, things like that. So, you'll have that, you know, family feel almost. We're really excited about that.

Cishella Durling Well, I would encourage any student who's listening to this podcast to definitely check out these leadership programs that the Office of Student Involvement offers for them. There are so many benefits from leadership skills to just personal growth and taking all of those connections with them throughout their journey here at the University of Louisville. Bri, thank you so much for your time and sharing this information with us, and hopefully by spreading the word, we'll get some more students to participate in these programs and really create and engage tomorrow's leaders. So, thank you again so much for your time.

Brianna Lucas Of course. Yeah. Thank you for having me. And I hope everyone listening to this knows that you have a space in these programs, and we can't wait to meet you very soon.

Cishella Durling Wonderful. Well, thanks to everybody. That's it for today's episode. And we're going to end this with did you know that the Engage Lead Serve Board is an arm of the Student Government Association responsible for planning and promoting community engagement opportunities for students? Be sure to check them out at louisville.edu/involvement/leadership/engage-lead-serve-board. Alright everyone, see you next time!


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