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Minor develops leaders

Colin+Darland+%2F+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AJanae+Phillips%2C+a+family+studies+and+human+development+junior%2C+is+one+of+the+first+UA+undergrads+minoring+in+leadership+studies+%26+practices.+
Colin Darland
Colin Darland / Daily Wildcat Janae Phillips, a family studies and human development junior, is one of the first UA undergrads minoring in leadership studies & practices.

Leadership Programs and the College of Education have collaborated to establish a minor in leadership studies and practice, which will help students develop skills to use in their future careers.

The program’s development was initiated two years ago by Leadership Programs Director Corey Seemiller, who worked with the Department of Educational Policy Studies and Practice to propose the minor, which was approved last May. Prior to the minor, undergraduate students were able to get some academic credit for taking leadership classes that were maintained through the College of Education. According to Jeff Milem, Education Policy Studies and Practice department head, this is what actually helped start the program, which debuted in fall 2011.

“As they continued to teach those courses, over time, there was a sense that there was a great demand for these kinds of learning opportunities,” Milem added. “For students in particular who had a real strong interest in leadership, there was a sense that this minor would be able to provide a way for them to really explore that … and then to have that reflected in their transcript.”

As for the program itself, the minor consists of five three-credit courses, nearly all of which have already been offered. The two entry-level courses, higher education 201 Foundations of Leadership and education leadership 280 Leadership Strategies, will remain open for anyone to take. The remaining courses focus on leadership aspects including organization, definition and the various forms of the concept, like grassroots leadership. Also included in the program is a one-credit on- or off-campus internship and a capstone involving leadership research.

Seemiller said she predicts that student attraction to the minor will depend on the fact that everything learned within the program can be used as soon as class ends every day. Furthermore, the program gives students another positive addition to their resume.

“People know that employers want leadership on their resume,” Seemiller added. “So some people are going to do this because they want to develop their resume, but they also want to develop those skills that are going to make them competitive in the workforce. They see the word ‘leadership’ and they’re just genuinely attracted to it because of that.”

For some of the students in the leadership studies and practice program, choosing the minor was just a way to further explore their interests in leadership development.

Janae Phillips, a junior majoring in family studies and human development, chose the minor after spending time in the UA’s Blue Chip Program, which also focuses on leadership development.

“I have been involved with a lot of leadership programs, and in Blue Chip I took some classes along with it, and I really enjoyed those classes,” Phillips said. “I found that the concepts that I was learning in the leadership classes really applied not only to my major but to everything I was doing, so I wanted to learn more about it. I thought it was a really solid minor to have and something that would really help me.”

Zach Patterson, a sophomore studying materials science and engineering, also began studying the minor after spending time in the Blue Chip Program. Patterson took two classes, taught by Seemiller, and said he had been “totally captivated” by the topics that he learned. After enjoying the classes so much, entering the minor became a natural choice, he said, even though it seemed to be an unconventional pair with his engineering major.

“Originally, I hadn’t thought about the combination, but I still really like thinking about the way people interact with each other, and that’s what caught my attention,” Patterson said.
One aspect that both Phillips and Patterson said they agreed on is the idea that the minor can be helpful to anyone, regardless of their career path.

“I definitely think that anyone can benefit from this minor,” Phillips said. “It gives you skills that you can use in any situation. No matter what kind of job you want to go into, you’re going to get something positive out of having this minor — you’re going to be able to work better and have skills that you don’t get out of general classes.”

And according to Patterson, a few people with a good understanding of leadership could benefit everyone.

“If we had an entire society of people who were cognizant of their own actions and leading just themselves, we would be highly successful,” Patterson added. “If you can transcend that and even help to organize the people around you, that’s when you get really close-knit societies and effective groups that are really going to be the future of America, and the world, really.”

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