NC State’s Global LeaderShape Institute gets to the heart of the university’s Think and Do mission. Students participating in the weeklong initiative prepare to share their leadership skills on campus and in the greater community, creating a vision for their community and learning how to achieve them.
“At LeaderShape, we help students learn what it means to lead with integrity and to develop visions for their community, or causes with which they are passionate” said Mike Giancola, assistant vice provost and student ombudsperson. “We ask students to think about their core values, and then help them clarify their passion that stems from those values.”
The LeaderShape Institute on campus derives from a national organization with a mission “To transform the world by increasing the number of people who lead with integrity™ and a healthy disregard for the impossible.” Since 2004, the Center for Student Leadership, Ethics and Public Service has hosted an annual six-day session for NC State students.
This year, a new part of the program emerged, one designed to further increase students’ cultural competency. With the help of NC State’s Global Training Initiative (GTI), LeaderShape initiated a special session involving students from NC State and Zhejiang University, one of China’s leading higher education institutions.
“GTI’s goal is to connect the university’s resources with community needs for global success in North Carolina,” said David McNeill, GTI associate director.
“A big part of that is building up student leaders, ones that have global awareness and are ready to step into businesses, schools, and more. LeaderShape helps accomplish that goal.”
Chinese and American students at this year’s Global LeaderShape Institute, held in July, sought to create a blueprint of their ideas and “stretch goals” to improve global society. They were also encouraged to examine their own cultural values, along with the similarities in values of other cultures.
“There was a lot of crossover in terms of shared values among Chinese and American students,” said McNeill. “Some of the most prominent values that they had in common were love for their fellow human beings and spreading goodwill, which became evident in the goals they expressed.”
Participants presented their goals in a poster session one of the evenings of the Global LeaderShape Institute. These goals included mending relations strained in WWII between the Chinese and Japanese, giving impoverished students in rural China access to high-quality textbooks, eliminating homelessness in America by taking advantage of underutilized housing, and feeding the hungry by getting unused food from college campuses to food banks and shelters.
Ashley McSwain, an incoming transfer student at NC State, shared her vision of working with North Carolina governmental bodies to advocate for funding for nonviolent offenders with, a high school diploma, and previosly attempted college credits, a chance to go to college.
“The inspiration for my vision began with the thought of my brother. He was an A student in high school and had a full scholarship to NC A&T to pursue a degree in business. He was an active basketball player and did volunteer work with his teams and was an inspiration to our community in New Bern, North Carolina,” said McSwain. “However, he fell victim to addiction and is now doing four years in prison because of the mistake of having an illegal substance. My brother is a very intelligent man and it worries him that he will never be accepted into a college because of his past mistake. Since most colleges do vigorous background checks, it is discouraging to some that have a one time felony for a mistake. So, I wanted to empower these young men and women by helping them obtain bachelor’s degrees. This would ensure that they would inspire others, lower the reincarnation rate, and empower those around them.”
McSwain’s participation in the Global LeaderShape Institute helped her create an action plan to make her vision a reality. She wants to partner with a representative in the state legislature to get started and eventually see results.
In addition to formulating various goals, students from Zhejiang University and NC State gathered nightly for cultural exchange and activities that included learning Chinese and English. Another activity involved Zhejiang students interpreting instructions to NC State students in order to complete a campus scavenger hunt. All activities served to improve cross-cultural competency, global understanding and strengthen the bonds among students.
Students from Zhejiang University participated in a follow-up session on their experience upon returning to China. NC State students will get together the first week of October for a reunion, where they will discuss their ideas and how to support and work with one another.
In the future, Giancola and McNeill hope to increase funding for the Global LeaderShape Institute to become an annual event and include more students from more universities around the world. This includes partnering with institutions in Japan, Saudi Arabia and Mexico, as well as the SKEMA Business School.
“Seeing our stellar NC State students working alongside China’s top collegiate scholars left me feeling very optimistic and hopeful that students of this generation have big, achievable ideas centered on leaving this world a better place,” said McNeill. “There are a lot of different avenues to do that, and one of those is LeaderShape. What all the students exhibited was a capability for strong global leadership that is encouraging and very much needed in today’s world.”
LeaderShape Student Profile: Ashley McSwain
Major: Communication: Public Relations Cncentration
Minors: Spanish, International Studies
What I learned at LeaderShape:
“This week I have learned that passion plus vision equals results. Stepping foot into the Institute, I did not expect to go through a detailed path of visionary leadership. By creating stretch goals and manageable goals a vision can come to life, which makes the impossible possible. This week has also helped me pinpoint my core values, which are spirituality, authenticity, peace, faithfulness and integrity. Knowing my core values will help me be a successful leader and also helps to drive my passions.”
How I Lead:
“I am a leader in my family, church, and community. For instance, the day after LeaderShape I met with a friend who has dropped out of college due to mental instability. I was sharing with her some of the core aspects of LeaderShape and it really empowered her to make, what she felt was impossible, possible. She wrote down some of her core values and began to say she would try to have a healthy disregard for the impossible. I felt so empowered by being able to inspire her with words from the Institute.”