GVSU program aids students to become future leaders

GVL / Courtesy - Nicole Wilson

GVL / Courtesy – Nicole Wilson

Ashlyn Korienek

After college, a world of collaboration and competition presents itself to new graduates. Those with leadership skills are most often desired and demanded for. Grand Valley State University’s First Year Leadership Experience program aims to provide these skills needed to thrive any career.

Offered through the Office of Student Life, the First Year Leadership Experience program (FYLE) is designed for all first year and transfer students as a chance to strengthen personal leadership skills and build career goals for the future.

Students are invited to attend six sessions held on Tuesdays from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. once a week. The first meeting occurs on Jan. 26 for the winter semester.

Nicole Wilson, a graduate assistant in the Office of Student Life, facilitates the FYLE with assistant Valerie Guzman, associate director of student life, along with a service and leadership intern.

To become a leader in training, she said students must apply by email or on OrgSync, an online platform highlighting campus organizations, by searching for “First Year Leadership Experience” at GVSU.

“The program strengthens and develops personal leadership values,” Wilson said, “through gaining self awareness in the student’s leadership style and by connecting with other leadership-minded peers.”

Each week provides future leaders with a different theme.

Wilson said these include: diversity education, inclusive leadership, ethics and critical thinking. She said most students favor the True Colors personality assessment, which is a human relations tool depicting the motivation of behavior in different personality types.

“This is a great way to get acquainted with leadership in a college setting,” she said. “The completion of the FYLE will make students strong candidates for future leadership positions, and prepare them to take steps as an intermediate leader on campus.”

Another benefit, Wilson said, is the networking session later in the experience where students can learn more about internships, leadership positions and on-campus jobs.

Guzman said the programs are focused on group collaborations as the larger discussions cover the main content, while smaller group discussions initiate more personal engagement. She said the smaller groups are led by upperclassmen leadership mentors who previously graduated the program.

“We really gear this program to the first year students looking for leadership experience,” Guzman said. “One of the best things about the program is that it gives the students an opportunity to connect with other students interested in developing as an individual while getting involved on campus.”

Wilson said the content is developed by the student leaders and staff from across campus, including interactive activities, case studies and presentations. Each participant is placed in a group of six to eight students for collaboration.

“We typically have about 30 students each semester,” she said. “Students who participate have described the experience as fun, energizing, insightful, motivational and empowering.”

The program is free to students interested in applying. However, attendance is mandatory at all sessions to be considered a FYLE graduate.

Every meeting is located in Kirkhof Center Room 2263, and students have the option to apply for the fall semester instead if they are unable to attend the winter program.

For more information regarding First Year Leadership Experience contact Nicole Wilson at [email protected].