Career Development Center initiative taps emerging leaders on campus

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A new group of student leaders is emerging at Lipscomb.
This fall marks the beginning of the third year of the Emerging Leaders Program, an initiative launched by the Career Development Center (CDC) to identify and foster leaders among the Lipscomb student body. Not only have these students strengthened their leadership skills through the program, but they have also made significant contributions to the university through their work on campus.
“We want to be intentional about developing leadership skills among our students. The students nominated for this program have demonstrated some leadership skills in the classroom and on campus. Our goal is to give them an opportunity to develop those skills in a professional setting,” said Monica Wentworth, CDC director.
Wentworth said the program grew out of a need to provide students who have been identified as having leadership potential a meaningful work experience on campus as well as to provide an opportunity to earn money to help fund their college education.
“This is a win-win situation for the student and the participating offices on campus,” said Wentworth. “Our emerging leader students have the opportunity to gain valuable work experience and develop their leadership skills. The offices on campus are able to have a highly motivated student — at no cost to their budgets — to help them with projects and work product that might not have been accomplished without their assistance.”
Leslie Shelby, assistant director of the Career Development Center, initiated the idea after a visit to the College of the Ozarks in Missouri.
“This was an idea that developed at a conference in a discussion with colleagues from other universities. It has worked well at Lipscomb and has really grown in a short period of time,” said Shelby. “The program helps our students grow in numerous areas and they have all made great progress. Our students also realize that it’s an honor to be selected to be a part of this program.”
To participate in the program, university departments must submit “an innovative idea for a student work project,” said Wentworth. “We want these tasks to be substantial projects that will require the student to use his or her leadership abilities to complete. We also want it to be a work product that will benefit that particular office as well.”
Emerging Leaders, who are nominated by faculty & staff, work 15 hours a week and receive a scholarship. The first year 10 students received the scholarship and last year 15 students were funded.
The new program has been successful in its short history. Wentworth said they have a 92 percent retention rate for Emerging Leaders Program students. And, students and supervisors have been pleased with the success of the program.
Through the Emerging Leaders program, the University has been able to accomplish more and provide additional services to students. The accomplishments range from an art curator for the new art gallery, graphic designer for student programming, and help with launching a new institute.
“Our emerging leader was a huge asset to our program. It helped us expand our services in a way that we would not have been able to without them,” said Emily Harris, director of campus recreation.
Linda Schacht, executive director of the Nelson and Sue Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership, said the emerging leadership program gives students the opportunity to contribute to the university in a significant way.
“The students who are selected for this program are leaders on campus and are valuable assets to the growth of the university. I was able to entrust our emerging leader with projects I would assign to a regular, full-time employee. She was extremely responsible and played a key role in helping us build this institute,” said Schacht.
Students who have participated in the program said they gained significant experience and professional development through their assignments.
“Working in the program has provided many opportunities for me to interact with and learn from professionals. My mentors expect me to participate fully in my position and to skillfully complete the projects assigned to me,” said Daniella Burke, an Emerging Leader Program participant.
“The level of expectation in my internship makes me strive to perform better and the willingness of my mentors to work with me creates a healthy environment where I am learning to behave in a professional manner. I feel more prepared to be interviewed and to fulfill the demands of a real world job since my involvement with this program.”
Brandee Rees, who participated in the program for two years, said she the program gave her “invaluable mentoring and real life experience that I could not have gained in the classroom alone.” Her experience as an emerging leader in graphic design in the university’s office of communication and marketing helped her land a full-time position of administrative and gallery assistant for Lipscomb’s art gallery in the James D. Hughes Center and in the art department when she graduated last spring.
“It opened doors of opportunity for me by providing a variety of involvement and gave me a smooth transition into the work force because I knew I was capable through the experience I gained and the mentoring I received. The Emerging Leader’s Program bridged the gap between classroom and workforce by making my skills translate from one environment to the other, and gave me confidence in my abilities as a designer and employee,” said Rees.
Shelby said she believes the program will continue to grow and expand. Strategically planned opportunities for professional development are new features of the program this year. She also hopes to involve local businesses as corporate sponsors of the program, which would provide funding for additional students to participate in the emerging leaders program.
For more information about submitting an initiative for consideration or nominating a student for the program, contact Wentworth at or call 615.966.6296 or complete the Emerging Leaders Submission Form by Dec. 2 to submit a proposal.