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Modeling the Way for the Future of HLP

Written by Jessica Simmons

When I found out there would be an executive council for the Honors Leadership Program, I immediately knew I wanted to be involved. The program had given me so much in such a short period of time and I wanted to be able to give back. I could see the amazing potential that our program had (and still has) to be a catalyst for change on campus, and I knew I wanted to spearhead that movement. I also knew I wanted to use my strengths to benefit the program. Last semester our cohort took ELPS 207, a course giving us an overview of leadership. This course helped me recognize the different types of leadership and my strengths and weaknesses as a leader. I was excited to be able to put what I have learned into action on the council and with my other involvements on campus.

When the Honors Leadership Program Executive Council met for the very first time, everyone in the room was excited to begin a new adventure and see where it would take us. The four of us sat around the table, with our own unique backgrounds and skill sets, ready to conquer our first task: the constitution. This was one of our first opportunities to put our leadership skills in action. We had to figure out how our organization would be set up, what our goals were, and how to go about best representing our peers. One of the most daunting tasks was to figure out how the council would operate when our program reaches full capacity, ten times the size it is now. Because we are the inaugural class, we have the unique opportunity of being very close with everyone in our program. We needed to figure out what practices would hold true even when this was not the case. In that meeting, the four of us were modeling the way for all future HLP councils. We were the first and we wanted it to be as close to perfect as possible.

The task we are now facing is helping the other members of our cohort see the vision we have created. As a council, our goal is to make the Honors Leadership Program a leader among leaders. There is great diversity in thoughts, interests, and majors amongst our students so we know we have the ability affect the entire campus. It excites me to see how involved our program already is; everyone is driven and ready to succeed. However, with such a high level of dedication and independence in every student come challenges. We knew when we ran for these positions that the work would not be easy. Since the program is currently so tight-knit, we are working hard to make sure we are unified and supportive of each other. The council is also trying to plan ahead by figuring out the best way to make sure that the incoming class has a voice and incorporates themselves into the inner workings of HLP. This is especially important to me because experienced feeling insignificant and like what I have to say does not matter. I want everyone to feel comfortable enough to share their thoughts and concerns with us.

Laying a foundation for an organization can be a daunting task at times. There are so many things to consider that it would be easy to get overwhelmed. However, being on the council has made me realize what a great support system the HLP provides. There is a reason that we are a council, not a singular person. We can lean on each other and use everyone’s strengths to solve difficult problems. We also not only have the small group on the council but an amazing cohort surrounding us that is willing to do whatever they can to help. Finally, we have Ms. Perez, our amazing director, who helps us through any issues. HLP has already taught me so much, and I am so excited to see everything that we do and learn in the next three years!