LEAP (Leadership Experience and Preparation) is a leadership program for first-year students that began as a Commitment Project developed by a group of LLI students. In 2013, five LLI students worked together with the Levitt Center and the Dean of Students Office to create a residential leadership program with the goal of fostering a culture of leadership on campus. LEAP included leadership training sessions, group activities, and a group leadership project. The program also provided the first-year students with upperclassmen mentors to help them develop as campus leaders. All of LEAP’s programming aimed to help participants develop six key skills: self-awareness, organization, negotiation, active listening, public speaking, and networking.
In 2014, LLI students led LEAP into a new phase as a class-based program. Sixteen first-year student participants took a philosophy class called The Pursuit of Happiness, which examined the roles of nature, nurture, leisure, work, faith, meaning, leadership, morality, and more. Outside of the course, students participated in weekly lectures and activities and completed a public service project of their own design. As in the previous year, upperclassmen mentors helped to lead these activities and helped the participants develop self-awareness as leaders.
Now in its third successful year, LEAP is entering a new phase as a quarter credit class that makes LEAP highly accessible to first-year students. In the second half of the spring semester, the LEAP class will meet for two hours every week. Class meetings will be split between faculty speakers discussing leadership topics and student-led activities. Two LEAP alumni will serve an essential role as student mentors and will help the first-year participants to develop their leadership skills, build a peer network, and get more involved on campus.
In the 2016-17 academic year, LEAP will return to the model of partnering with a philosophy course in the fall and may repeat this year’s model in the spring.
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LEAP Co-Directors for 2015-16: