Student life: Learning to be leaders

May 21, 2013

Like many CU-Boulder students, Andrea Tice yearns to make a difference in the world. As an undergraduate in the Leadership Residential Academic Program (RAP) Tice is learning specific skills that will help turn her dream into reality.

A senior in psychology and ethnic studies, Tice is in her fourth year in the Ethnic Living and Learning Community Leadership Studies Program (ELLC), which is one of two study programs offered through the Leadership RAP. She serves as a classroom assistant helping other freshmen in the RAP to find their individual paths to leadership.

“We all want to change the world,” said Tice. “I love this program so much that I wanted to help incoming freshmen experience the same things I did when I was a freshman, to open their minds to other perspectives in the world.”

The Leadership RAP at Williams Village features an interdisciplinary approach to the study and practice of leadership. First-year students are prepared for leadership roles in a global and multicultural setting through a rigorous curriculum that fosters a lasting commitment to the betterment of society. Students have experiences that change the way they view themselves and society.

In addition to the learning opportunities offered by participating in the Leadership RAP, students choose between two leadership study programs. ELLC prepares students for leadership roles in local and global settings with a focus on cultural competency and strengthening communities. The Chancellor’s Leadership Studies Program (CLSP) provides students with a foundation in leadership with an emphasis on social action and collective change. The curriculum teaches students the ways in which institutions and communities solve problems and the different leadership styles needed to work effectively in each setting. 

Critical thinking is fundamental to leadership competency; leaders must be skillful at collecting information and making judgments. In addition to coursework, students are expected to perform some type of service to the campus or Boulder community. Volunteering or participating in a civic project is an important facet of leadership development.

Students completing the four-year leadership program can earn a Study and Practice of Leadership certificate, which is similar to an academic minor.

“Leadership Certificate students often comment about how their cross-cultural, social justice-based leadership experiences influence all of the courses they take, and how they see and interact in the world,” said Leadership RAP Director Ann Scarritt. “Some recent graduates are working for Teach for America, city and the federal government—continuing their commitment to a more just and equitable world beyond a university experience.”

Despite having an overall positive experience during his freshman year in CLSP, Ethan Larson saw an opportunity to improve one area of the program. Larson wanted more hands-on activities in the practicum section. When he voiced his concerns to one of the faculty leaders, Larson was encouraged to make those changes.

Taking that challenge to heart, Larson, a sophomore in sociology and communication, signed up to be a peer mentor in CLSP the following year. Joining forces with the two other peer mentors, they added a volunteer service requirement to the practicum. Once a week, CLSP students volunteer with the I Have a Dream Foundation to tutor and mentor at risk youth at Columbine Elementary School and Boulder High School.

Larson credits the Leadership RAP and CLSP with opening his eyes to the struggles of people he had been overlooking.

“I was always just focused on myself,” said Larson. “But I’ve learned that you have to be aware of what’s going on around you to become an effective leader. Getting a certificate in leadership will set me apart in my job search after graduation.”

In early August, the Leadership RAP will move from Williams Village to Kittredge Central

For more information about leadership opportunites at CU-Boulder visit the Newton Chair in Leadership website.