Hoosier Student Leader Retreat leaves students feeling invigorated and inspired

Guest blog by Morgan Klingelhoefer, Indiana University junior and participant in the Hoosier Student Leader Retreat:

Coming to college can be intimidating. My first semester, I struggled to find my place on campus. Indiana University offers so many opportunities and experiences that I had difficulty with where to even begin.

Thankfully, that same year, I attended LeaderShape. The six-day leadership institute enables people to explore what they want to do and who they want to be and encourages people to challenge the impossible.

Hoosier Student Leader Retreat

Participants in this year’s Hoosier Student Leader Retreat.

LeaderShape solidified my love for this school and student involvement on IU’s campus. Since the institute, I have continued to expand upon my leadership skills.

Leadership programs such as LeaderShape are offered through the Office of Student Life and Learning, which serves as the center of student involvement on IU’s campus and has given me opportunities I never would have had otherwise. Through these experiences, I have gained knowledge that will last a lifetime.

Student leadership retreats allow students to put everything into perspective while connecting with others. One example is the Hoosier Student Leader Retreat, which I recently attended.

The one-day retreat is offered to individuals involved in an IU student organization, bringing together student leaders from varying disciplines, interests and experiences in one common setting. Here, we are given the opportunity to work alongside our peers and focus on how to best use our abilities and knowledge to better our community. We discuss current events, as well as the challenges we face and how to overcome them.

Each person brings a different perspective, which enables us to open up our minds to new thought processes, opinions and ideas. Students leave feeling invigorated, inspired and ready to produce change.

The Hoosier Student Leader Retreat is different than a normal leadership retreat. It’s interactive, and it’s tailored toward juniors and seniors who are likely to have participated in these types of programs before. College is a time for development and growth, and this program brings new activities and curricula that press us to think critically. We focus on specific themes throughout the day and tie it back to college life and student involvement.

A unique aspect of these retreats is the idea of non-positional leadership. Leadership isn’t defined by the power you have or the title you hold; it reflects in the way you inspire and empower others and the changes you elicit.

Morgan Klingelhoefer

Morgan Klingelhoefer

One of my favorite sessions during the retreat was creating our own board of directors. Your board is the people who are always in your corner: your cheer squad, your team — whatever you call it. They’re the people who push you to achieve things you thought impossible or unachievable. They believe in you when you may not believe in yourself.

We created our board of directors and then wrote the values that we see these people hold. We then reflected over our board and why we chose who we did.

As I looked over my board, I realized that I didn’t appreciate these people because of their influence or superiority over me. I appreciate and value them for the things they have taught me and the ways they have helped me grow and develop. For many of us, these people are our families, best friends, teachers, mentors and coaches. They’re regular people like you and me, and they may not even be aware of the impact they have had on us.

Leadership is vast. It can be daunting and scary. It’s unknown and big, and it sometimes seems unachievable. It’s easy to think that one day we will have an “a-ha moment” where all of our hard work accumulates and we are recognized for our achievements. We tend to think that to be a leader, we must completely change the world. By why not start with our own part of the world, right here? Why can’t we change the world little by little?

That’s just it. We can. Sometimes, we can’t see the differences we make, but they’re there. And that’s what matters.

Toward the end of the Hoosier Student Leader Retreat, each individual creates an action plan and initiatives that we can employ throughout our student organizations. Having these types of plans, in addition to the knowledge gained throughout the retreat, allow participants to leave with ideas of steps to take moving forward. We then take these plans back to our peers and student organizations, and use them to better ourselves and our community.

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