Leadership program provides skills for success

Managing time and stress, communicating effectively, running a good meeting — these are skills possessed by nearly any effective leader.

These abilities also make it easier to survive, even thrive, during the busiest times in the office or during the academic year.

Yet many students arrive at college lacking these skills, says Sara Noyes, assistant coordinator of student activities and residence life assistant at Bates.

“I really notice it with student organizations,” she says. “They don’t do a lot of leadership training or leadership transition. Students just say, you know, ‘I’m a Bates student and I’m pretty smart — maybe I can just do this.’ ”

Maybe they can, but a program organized by Noyes and launched during the winter semester upped the ante by offering helpful training in leadership techniques. Titled Building Essential Skills for Tomorrow — aka B.E.S.T. — the program comprised eight evening sessions dedicated to budgeting, networking, public speaking and other techniques.

Aimed at first-year and sophomore students, B.E.S.T. attracted 25 participants, all but three of whom finished the course. Some of the participants were nominated by staff or faculty, and others came to the program on their own.

‘It was eye-opening to see how much time there really is in the day, and how much you can utilize in a productive manner.’

“We had quite a few students who said, ‘I never thought I would be a part of this type of thing,’ ” said Noyes. “But because someone noticed that they had the potential for this, they went ahead and got into the group.”

She adds, “We had international students, multicultural students, athletes. It was a wide range of people.”

A member of the psychology faculty, a dean of students and several other Bates staff members taught the program. The sessions on networking and time management were her favorites, said first-year student Catherine Djang of Scarsdale, N.Y.

During the latter, “we did an exercise where we literally plotted out our day into five-minute intervals,” she said. “You look at the sheet and say, ‘Where did that time go?’

“It was eye-opening to see how much time there really is in the day, and how much you can utilize in a productive manner.”

At the banquet that closed the program, the students were presented with certificates marking their accomplishment, and also heard from a Bates trustees, business executive Jennifer Porter ’88.

“She was wonderful,” said Noyes. “She asked the students to get into groups and talk about what they learned during the past seven weeks — including what they learned about themselves — and how they were going to use this in the future.”

Noyes hopes to both repeat the first program and add an advanced level during the 2010-11 academic year.

B.E.S.T. isn’t the only extracurricular program aimed at molding leaders that has sprung up at Bates. There’s also the Bonner Leadership Program. Supported by the Harward Center for Community Partnerships and the Bonner Foundation, which oversees 80 Bonner programs nationwide, the program promotes opportunities for student development, learning and engagement through community work.

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