Jackson Frasier, Alison
Human Development and Family Studies
leadership; facilitation; workshops; strengths; personal values; group development
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In 2017, the Center for Student Leadership Development (CSLD) piloted a program entitled Sophomore Breakthrough Experience as an incentive for students to become interested in leadership and pursue a leadership minor. Along with the specific Freshman year and Senior year courses and programs that were already offered by the CSLD, Junior year was then the only year without a main CSLD event. Therefore, I helped design and execute a program specifically for the Juniors at URI. For many students, Junior year represents a shift in focus that can be especially stressful. Many important decisions need to be made and skills need to be mastered that will impact a student’s future. This is the period when students not only start applying for internships and jobs but also are researching potential graduate schools. They do all this while also juggling heavier class loads more specifically targeted at their career goals. They build their resumes, inevitably preparing for interviews and thereby marketing themselves professionally and successfully. Thankfully, there are efficient ways of relieving levels of pressure and stress. Juggling, for example, is a simple activity that has shown to help control one’s focus while learning to observe critically, stay on task, and screen out distractions though concentrated hand-eye coordination. In order to help Juniors plan for their future professional lives, I worked with the CSLD to design and deliver a 4-hour training event that included two interactive workshops, a formal mock-interview style dinner, and group activities around the “juggling” theme. The first workshop engaged participants in discussions about finance, investing in stocks, and the importance of saving money. They had time to reflect on their own spending habits by filling out worksheets inspiring them to improve their personal budgeting, a vital skill for independent life after graduating. The second workshop focused on assessing and articulating one’s personal values and leadership skills to maximize the quality of their resumes, cover letters, and professional LinkedIn pages. A final exercise inspired each participant to reflect on a personal upcoming challenge, big or small, that they agreed to focus on in the near future and share it with the other participants through a fun and creative group juggling activity. Nearly 30 Juniors from varying majors and colleges at the University signed up for this pilot program in order to take advantage of the tips and resources that we presented to them. Responses from our post-event survey showed that we successfully constructed an event that was not only enjoyable, but also valuable to the Juniors in helping them better understand and articulate their personal strengths for life beyond college. I am grateful that the positive responses from this event allow me to leave behind my mark at the University of Rhode Island so that upcoming Juniors in the years to come have this experience to better prepare themselves for their futures.