BOONE, N.C. — Today's employers demand strong leadership skills, and getting involved in campus life isn't the only way to develop them. At Appalachian State University, students can actually pursue a minor in leadership studies as they participate in clubs and organizations.
"It's not a question of whether you're going to lead or not. The question is, Will you be ready when it's your time to lead?" says Dr. Jim Street, associate director of Appalachian's McCaskey Center for Student Involvement and Leadership. He has coordinated the minor in leadership studies since its founding in 2007.
"When a student minors in leadership, it sends a strong message to employers that the student is ready to take on the challenges associated with leadership."
Senior Kate Stucke feels she's "ahead of the game" for pursuing a minor in leadership studies. "I think Appalachian gets set apart from other schools based on the leadership studies minor because it's just truly a unique program," said Stucke, whose major is communication studies. "You can take classes in so many different departments and you really get that hands-on experience."
Today's employers demand strong leadership skills, and getting involved in campus life isn't the only way to develop them. At Appalachian State University, students can actually pursue a minor in leadership studies as they participate in clubs and organizations.
Dr. Jim Street, Associate Director, Center for Student Involvement & Leadership: The Leadership minor is an 18-hour program. Students take two classes. They take a principles of leadership class, then they have to take a senior capstone in their final year. In between, they take twelve hours of courses related to leadership. The Leadership minor is very interdisciplinary in nature. We want students to look at this phenomenon of leadership, but we want them to look at it from different perspectives. What do the social psychologists tell us about leadership? What do the applied sciences of business management tell us about leadership? By looking at leadership from all of those different perspectives, in the end we have a better understanding of it.
Kate Stucke, Senior, Communications Studies Major: The Leadership Studies minor has allowed me to take classes in different disciplines. I'm currently in a Social Psychology class and I wouldn't have taken that otherwise if I hadn't been doing the minor.
Patrick Holder, Sophomore, History & Secondary Education Major: I want to be a teacher, so I started looking at all of the different classes that they offered, and they were all really useful, not just for teaching, but for any kind of real-world application where you're going to be working with other people. Personally, it's given me a lot more confidence about my ability to lead. The classes that I have taken have taught me how to really use everyone's skills and talents in a group to maximize the benefit and get that group goal.
Kate Stucke: It's really been beneficial because it's helped me explore my certain interests and it's confirmed to me that I would really like to go into the area of student development. And it's helped me grow as a person overall. It's truly a unique program and you really get that hands-on experience which I know Appalachian truly strives for - as being a bigger school but still having that small-school feel, and I really feel like the Leadership Studies minor falls within the whole aspect of the Appalachian family.
Dr. Jim Street: When a student minors in Leadership, it sends a strong message to potential employers that that student is ready to take on the challenges associated with leadership. We believe that leadership is open to everyone. I ask all of my students, "Are leaders born or made?", and we have a lively debate about that. In the end, I tell them that if you're an Appalachian student, it's not a question of whether you're going to lead or not, the question is will you be ready when it's your time to lead.
The minor requires students take 18 credits relating to leadership. There are two required courses: Principles of Leadership and a Senior Leadership Capstone Seminar. The remaining 12 credits come from related courses in various disciplines to broaden students' perspective, such as psychology, business and communication.
Students talk about different leadership styles in class and then practice them in their leadership roles on campus. They see what works and what doesn't, and then come back to the classroom to "talk about their frustrations and the successes that they experience," Street said.
Sophomore Patrick Holder is an example. He's active in the university's impACT leadership team, motivating students to participate in major service events like the annual Dance Marathon fundraiser and MLK Challenge.
The program "has given me a lot more confidence about my ability to lead," said Holder, who wants to be a teacher. "I'm not exactly a very outgoing person, but we've learned about all different styles of leadership. I would defiantly recommend the leadership minor to anyone that wants to get involved."
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About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the Southeast, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls nearly 21,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.