The 7th Sophomore Leadership Experience
By Stephanie Haft ‘15
Andrew Carnegie once remarked: “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” From Friday, September 12th to Sunday, September 14th, a group of 90-odd CMC sophomores worked toward Carnegie’s stated “common vision” during the Sophomore Leadership Experience (SLE). Although the Class of 2017 had enjoyed one full year together, many members expressed the desire to be not just a class, but a team. This is one of the many goals of SLE — to facilitate the relationships and skills necessary for a group of individuals to attain a unifying purpose.
This year marks the 7th anniversary of the SLE program. SLE contains a mixture of bonding activities, leadership lectures, and small group discussions. Each year the curriculum changes slightly, with perennial favorites always preserved. One such favorite is the ropes course, a series of team building exercises and activities that challenges groups to problem solve together. Moreover, the high and low ropes courses allowed for the identification and utilization of the talents and resources of individual team members.
Although a large focus of the program is put on group bonding, participants also gained insight into their personal skills through the Big 5 Personality Assessment. Before embarking on SLE, sophomores took a survey to measure their balance of 5 traits: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and openness. Sophomores were given the results of their assessment, but with a catch — their traits were not labeled. In order to decipher which statistic belonged to which trait, they had work together with peers in order to make an assignment that made the most sense to everyone’s respective personalities. In the words of Tyler Finn ’17, this activity “was a wonderful time for self-reflection and reevaluation.”
One aspect of SLE that has changed from past years is the number of small group facilitators. This year, ten upperclassmen went on SLE to assist in small group discussions. Although the upperclassmen facilitators were not themselves sophomores, they all returned to campus with a new set of leadership skills and powerful relationships. Small group facilitator Katie Echavia ’15 was comforted by the passion and drive she saw in the sophomores. “Being a SLE Facilitator gave me the chance to know the sophomore class on a deeper level and I am grateful to leave CMC in the hands of truly amazing young leaders that I know will have a tremendous impact on the future of our campus and community,” Echavia said.
“Bringing it Back” has always been a key component of the SLE curriculum. This involves sophomores identifying problems or issues on campus and brainstorming possible solutions. This year, numerous interest groups formed in response to perceived deficits on campus. A few of these groups included: Sprinklers and Sustainability, Ethics at CMC, Registrar Liaison for First Generation Students, Student Judicial Board and Jury Duty, and The Breakfast Club. Sophomores are continuing to stay in touch and work on these projects throughout the year. Sharon Chiang ’17 indicated the importance of this process: “Ideas are powerful, but when they are not shared, they lose the potential to create a change in society. SLE was the opportunity to share these ideas and expand the depth of the student experience at CMC. I appreciate the effort made in bringing SLE goals back on campus, and I look forward to continuing to expand on my social responsibility.”
SLE may be best summarized with a quote from one of the program’s participants, Griffin Ferre ’17:
Everything we did at SLE it seemed to me was in order to think about and interact with others, which is basically how a successful society functions. At CMC, we do a lot of things, like going to classes and extracurricular activities, in order to accrue skills for ourselves in order to find success after college, but at SLE it was about working with others to accomplish a common goal, and I think that’s what being a leader is about! Not using power to tell others what to do or getting what you want, but taking it upon yourself to do what is best for the whole group and putting others before yourself. SLE was an awesome time to meet people, think about life, and of course, have some fun!
Perhaps SLE can be Andrew Carnegie’s figurative “fuel” that allows the sophomore class to finally bond together through a common vision and eventually, to achieve “uncommon results.”