“Leadership is not a gene and it’s not an inheritance. Leadership is an identifiable set of skills and abilities that are available to all of us.”
This quotation on the Whittier College website summarizes the challenge that is addressed by LEAP (Leadership and Experience Programs) at Whittier. LEAP is designed to develop leadership skills in students by offering development courses and workshops to help identify and polish particular skills as a leader. LEAP is also a great way to get involved and to become connected to the rest of the campus.
Whittier has identified four elements within the liberal arts curriculum that they emphasize, known as the ‘four Cs’: Community, Connections, Cultural perspectives, and Communications. By highlighting these four elements, Whittier hopes to focus the leadership skills that its students develop; the goal is for a student to be able create “positive responsible change.” The following bullet points are taken from the school website and reflect the specific goals and objectives of these leadership studies:
- Prepare students for leadership in a global world;
- Engage students’ creativity while strengthening their research abilities and critical thinking, organization, and project-management skills;
- Utilize learning opportunities to improve knowledge acquisition through leadership experiences and tangible projects;
- Create measurable impacts and outcomes from co-curricular involvement;
- Offer students the opportunity to develop a meaningful portfolio of completed work that demonstrates acquired leadership skills through a college-recognized program.
Students take the initiative in this program. They will have an opportunity to select, develop, and facilitate the activity of their choosing. Often this is a case of stepping into a role within an existing organization, such as student government or one of the 60 active clubs that sparks an interest for the particular student. Starting a group or organization is certainly an option, and community service provides yet another outlet to Whittier students. Community service, in particular, and the active role taken by students is part of what makes the social life at Whittier unique and notable among similar colleges.
We have mentioned some of the core activities taken on by students participating in LEAP, but there is still more to the program. The workshop series mentioned earlier as part of LEAP is held weekly for an hour and lasts the length of a term. The goal is to introduce students to styles and skills which can help them become effective individuals within an organization. Topics in the series range from basic definitions to debatable theory concerning the nature of leadership. Participants who complete the series are awarded a certificate which they can add to their portfolio or resume.
Beyond the Resume
Beyond a simple certificate, there are several aspects of LEAP that add character to a resume or portfolio. Students will have developed core leadership competencies which range from citizenship to fiscal responsibility. They will also have taken an active role in one or more organizations, and this is reflected in what students of all class years are saying about the program:
“I love being involved with multiple clubs and organizations on campus,” said one Whittier senior.
“The people [at Whittier] are extremely friendly and involved in school activities and clubs. There is a great sense of community, which I love because you feel open enough to go to anyone for help,” said a freshman.
For those who are interested, here is the place to learn more about LEAP. Here there is a complete organizational breakdown of the student government and the six governing bodies for student organizations, a list of events and programs, as well as a guide to student employment.
LEAP is a unique asset of the Whittier community, and combined with some of the other assets the college maintains, this makes Whittier an excellent choice for prospective students.