Experts to Help Students Develop Leadership Skills at New Conference

February 21, 2020
By: Nancy Sheehan

Good leaders care about how to motivate others, says Jacquelyn N. Raftery-Helmer, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology. They try to help others find energy, mobilize their efforts, and persist in the face of challenges.

Students who want to learn more can attend a workshop titled “Motivation” presented by Raftery-Helmer as part of Worcester State’s inaugural Leadership Symposium from 12:30 to 6 p.m. on March 6 in the Student Center. The event, organized by the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership Development (OSILD), aims to help students develop their leadership knowledge, awareness, and skills. It is open to all students, faculty, staff, their guests, and Worcester community leaders. Registration runs through Feb. 27 and you can sign up here. Light refreshments will be available in the Exhibit Area throughout the program.

Workshops, offered over three time blocks throughout the afternoon, will be presented by Worcester State faculty, staff, and administrators. They cover a wide range of topics including “Empowering Your Team,” with Colby Harvish, residence director; “Women in Leadership: Navigating the Labyrinth,” with Dawn Eades, associate dean of student engagement; and “How to Get Out of Your Own Way: Self Compassion and Leadership,” with Julie Glavin, counselor.  A full schedule is available here.

“These are important skills we want our student leaders to have,” says Sarah Potrikus, OSILD assistant director. “We want students to be able to build their own schedule for this symposium and really meet their personal goals, so there are things like goal setting or motivating others. If they’re more advanced student leaders, maybe it’s ‘How to Leave Behind a Legacy.’ We really want each student to be able to customize it to their own needs.”

Featured speakers will be leadership trainer and author Michael Miller, and Patrick Hare ’12, M.S. ’14,  staff associate and assistant for governmental and community affairs in the president’s office.

Miller will speak at 1 p.m. and again at 4:30 p.m. He has spent the past 15 years traveling the country speaking at colleges, universities, and corporations to help motivate people on topics that increase personal and organizational awareness. His presentations are delivered in an energetic and exciting way, according to Potrikus, who has heard Miller speak on previous occasions. “He’s incredibly engaging and he’s going to be speaking on the importance of leaders knowing their personal values,” she says.

Hare plans to talk about his journey from being a shy first-year student at Worcester State to a recognized student and community leader. “Taking advantage of opportunities that came my way through OSILD taught me what it means to be a leader and helped me develop the confidence to make the kind of decisions that led to greater achievement than I had thought possible,” says Hare, who was recently recognized among the region’s young leaders with a “40 Under 40” honor from a prominent Worcester media outlet. “Workshops at the symposium will help point students toward success from graduation to full-time employment to fulfillment in their personal lives,” he says.

OSILD plans to make the symposium an annual event, Potrikus says. A few years ago, OSILD adopted a three-year leadership implementation plan to expand its programs. “We have two programs that run every semester. They’re seven weeks and they’re really great, but we have a lot of students who can’t participate in them because of the time commitment,” she says.

That chronic time crunch was one reason the symposium concept was developed. “We wanted to create a program that students could come to for just one day and put in a few hours and still get something from our leadership programs,” she says. “Having it be something they could customize to what they’re interested in was something we really wanted to offer as well.”

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