About 50 University of Lynchburg students spent last weekend studying the stories of superheroes, all in the name of leadership.
The Emerging Leader Retreat gives first- and second-year students a chance to learn about strengths, communication, leadership styles, and more. “It takes students on a leadership journey of self-discovery which ends with them developing a leadership action plan,” said Jonathan Fries ’07, ’11 MED, the assistant director of first-year programs. For the past three years, he has led the event around the theme, “Discover the Super Leader in You,” using examples from comic books and movies to help students reflect on their own leadership journeys.
“Some of the topics include team dynamics, balancing your leadership role and personal life, understanding the different types of leadership, knowing your purpose, and dealing with leadership struggles,” Fries said.
The retreat involved 45 participants and 10 student facilitators who had been through the training in previous years. Graduate assistants Lisa Quell ’16 and Kendall Malsam ’17 also helped organize the event. B.J. Keefer ’86, ’90 MEd, director of student activities and leadership programs, and Kristen Cooper, director of residence life, presented one session.
“It was an absolutely brilliant program,” said Davion Washington ‘21, who is involved in a variety of programs such as the Student Activities Board and the Westover Honors program. “I was able to learn about my top strengths and how I could further develop them, as well as use them amongst others.”
He appreciated how every lesson was connected back to superhero stories, and he also liked seeing leadership in action among those who ran the event. He said that Fries “is an amazing leader and an excellent example.”
The students developed action plans to identify how they will apply what they learned in their personal lives and their leadership of student organizations. The event organizers will check in with the participants later in the semester to
“The things that I learned from the retreat will help me to move forward and improve the organizations that I am a part of now.”