Bryn Mawr Students Hone Leadership Skills Through LEAP

Originally posted: May 5, 2011

When people talk about effective leaders a number of common traits—enthusiastic, thoughtful, tactful, reliable—often get mentioned.

While developing these traits may not fit into the usual biology, physics, or computer science class, they are important characteristics that can assist students as they pursue any career or further academic studies.

Sponsored by the Civic Engagement Office, Bryn Mawr’s Leadership Empowerment Advancement Program (LEAP) offers several programs that encourage students to explore different elements of leadership and offer them tools that will enable them to take on leadership positions.

As part of LEAP’s Intensive Leadership Development Program, students participate in 45 hours of workshops as a cohort over two semesters, with evening sessions of 2 1/2 hours and two to three full days of training that take place on weekends. Through role plays, interactive lectures, group discussion, self-reflection, and service projects, students learn to identify and develop their personal leadership styles.

“LEAP was born out of meetings of student-affairs staff who realized the need for leadership development on Bryn Mawr’s campus. The LEAP working group was also motivated by stories of alumnae who wished they had had some formal leadership training during their time at Bryn Mawr. Since its inception, there have been five LEAP cohorts—the fifth one just graduated from the program this spring” says Vanessa Christman, assistant director of Intercultural Affairs and LEAP cohort director.

“In addition to the personal leadership development students receive from the program, they praise their experience as part of a supportive cohort. More than one student has told us that the possibility of taking part in LEAP helped her make her decision to come to Bryn Mawr,” Christman adds.

Yong Jung Cho and Brittney Sampson, both of the class of 2012, are alumnae of the Leadership Development Program who not only gained invaluable experience and lessons from the program, but—like many—continued working on their service project long after they had officially graduated from the program.

Their project, entitled the “X-Factor,” (so called because of the double x chromosome in women), focused on bringing to campus Bryn Mawr alumnae who work in male-dominated fields to have discussion panels about sex discrimination in the workforce, and how their time at Bryn Mawr helped them prepare for potentially uncomfortable situations. In March of 2010 the pair, along with Clare Amari ’11, brought Lilly Ledbetter of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 to campus.

“I was able to do more things on campus because I made connections with so many different college resources during my time in LEAP. It opened so many doors for me,” says Cho, who now serves as the president of the Executive Board on the student Self Government Association.

Current and incoming Bryn Mawr students interested in LEAP should contact Christman or Director of Service and Activism Ellie Esmond for more information.

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