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Questioning the structure of the Emerging Leadership Institute

The Emerging Leadership Institute is undergoing changes that may improve the experience and relieve students of an unexpected obligation sprung on them at the end of the retreat.

Emerging Leadership Institute (ELI) is an annual weekend-long leadership retreat held by the Center for Leadership and Community Engagement (CLCE). A program specifically for first- and second-year Rollins students, ELI serves as an early introduction into leadership development and includes many activities and reflection exercises to guide students towards becoming the next generation of successful leaders.

Leadership is a remarkably vital skill to develop, especially in today’s world. As such, it is important to make sure that ELI is a worthwhile investment of students’ time and Rollins College funding.

After talking to students who participated in ELI, some see it as a rewarding experience. Prince Menckeberg ’19 stated that the “whole trip was full of nothing but great memories.”

He explained how the program “helped [him] become a lot more confident,” especially through one activity in which students each had their own mailbox and wrote letters to each other throughout the weekend. Menckeberg said that his mailbox “was filled with the most positive letters, which [he] still holds on to.”

However, there was one activity that somewhat marred Menckeberg’s experience of ELI along with many other participating students.

At the conclusion of the weekend retreat, students were told to come up with and implement a service project at Rollins with the guidance of an ally. Failure to do so would incur a hefty fine.

Menckeberg expressed how he was initially distressed by this project, but that “it didn’t turn out to be a big deal.”

He stated that he “came up with [his] project the day it was due,” and that “no one took it seriously [or] really put much effort into it.” Thus, he and others were able to easily avoid the threatened fine.

However, this begs the question: what is the purpose of this activity if the students do not even take it seriously?

Krista Peirce, the Graduate Assistant for CLCE, is currently running the Emerging Leadership Institute. She explained that this surprise project at the end of ELI is actually part of a separate program called the Leadership Ally Program (LAP).

The year that Menckeberg participated in ELI, LAP consisted of pairing ELI participants with a staff or faculty mentor in order for the pairs to complete a service project together. However, Krista Peirce expressed how the program faced major issues of accountability.

Because of accountability, LAP has been evolving over the years to accommodate these issues while remaining a functional method of guiding students in the development of leadership skills.

Kristine Rapprich ’19, a current facilitator of the ELI, explained that last year LAP still involved pairing ELI participants with an ally. However, instead of forcing them to create a service project, the pairs worked together to create leadership goals for the students.

This year, LAP has been completely removed from the Emerging Leadership Institute. Krista Peirce said that they will be “adapting and absorbing elements of [LAP] into ELI,” but the program itself is no longer officially part of ELI. As a result, students will no longer be responsible for meeting the requirements of LAP.

Hardly a static program, the CLCE is actively trying to improve the Emerging Leadership Institute to ensure it successfully helps students become upstanding leaders, all while having as much fun as possible.

The care that has gone into the maintenance of this program and the receptive nature of those behind it is something to be thankful for. The new ELI program will be something to look out for in the future.

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