—–Within the LDP, I have come respect those who go the extra mile. We work on improving all areas of our lives and take consideration for the little things that usually slide under the radar. I have never been pushed as hard to succeed as I have been in the LDP. The vast improvements in my attitude, my interactions with others, as well as my physical fitness are evidence of that. I am learning how to rely upon others and how to conduct myself on a day-to-day basis through time management all because of my time with the LDP. This program is an incredible experience that truly allows you to push beyond your limits and strive to be the best you that you can be.
——–In 2015, a small group of five Brazilians joined the LDP for the one year they studied abroad in the US. Inspired by how learning leadership changed their life that year and by the mission of the LDP, they returned to start two leadership companies–Journey and Institute of Education by Experience and Practice (IEEP). I was honored to be asked to present at their first Leadership Experience Day last year before an audience of 200. You cannot imagine my delight this year when I learned that Nick had organized three engagements and grew the largest audience to over 500.The most significant observation I saw was the unquenchable thirst for leadership training that Nick and Diogo’s companies have generated for the country of Brazil. Both of their companies are going strong and reaching an expanding audience. ———Every week, the LDP recites its commitment to challenge ourselves to change the world. I never imagined that I would see such tangible results so quickly. My heart bursts with joy and gratitude for the great work all the Brazilians have done and I’m confident that with dedication and hard work, they will have a major impact in making Brazil the great country you imagine.
The Collegiate Leadership Competition is a new event for the LDP this year, and as such we don’t really know what to expect. Initially the CLC caused mixed emotions because it was another commitment; however, the lessons filled in an important gap in what we learn in LDP. The CLC is different than the usual lessons taught in LDP. It gives us a clear strategy to problem solve and work through tasks.
—–As the semester rolled on, we gave the practices 100%, listened to the lectures, and did the activities associated with them. It was not at all boring; the activities were challenging and made us think. In my opinion however, the activities were not easily associated with real life challenges and group dynamics.
—–The Big Event is known as one of the largest student led service projects in the nation. When the LDP presented me the chance to be a site leader, I was a bit worried as I’ve never led a project of this magnitude, but looking back I would not have changed a thing. I was able to lead two groups through two four-hour sessions of volunteering, and I enjoyed every minute of it. The first task I was given was to repaint the interior of the Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale. As simple as it sounds, I quickly found that it was far too big a task for less than 20 volunteers to complete in three hours. That didn’t discourage us at all– we completed the restoring of the basement of the building, started on the foyer, and painted the doors in the first story. We didn’t quite finish, but it was still a proud moment for the volunteers to look back at the progress we had made. The atmosphere of the building was changed entirely with the bright coat of paint we added. Due to the rigid schedule of the Big Event, we couldn’t stay late to finish the task, but it will be nice in the future to finish the job on our own. —–The second project I led was with St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. Of all the things college has taught me, I must say I never thought crocheting would be one of them. Nonetheless the wonderful ladies of St. Andrew’s church meet every Tuesday and recycle plastic bags to create sleeping mats for the homeless and they welcomed us in to help. Believe it or not, 20 college kids actually enjoyed learning to crochet. We had an elaborate assembly line of cutting bags to create balls of “yarn” to crocheting. As if learning this new skill wasn’t enough, we were helping the homeless and getting rid of unneeded plastic bags. We were helping the world be a little greener while helping others, and there is no other way I would have wanted my first project to go.
—–LDP is an amazing program. It puts students through so many challenges, spurring growth that couldn’t happen in a normal college lifestyle. Of course, all this progress couldn’t happen without occasional heaps of stress and pressure. We are all high achievers who take on so much. For example, on top of LDP, Nate is in his junior year of mechanical engineering and serving as the president of Baja and a senator in USG. Jim is studying automotive technology, is in Automotive Ambassadors, conducting the Robinson Engine Design Research Project, and is a member of ATO where he serves as the Del Sol project lead of a team of over 20 people. Jessica works as a tutor and TA, is active in her church, serves as the president of SSA, and is chewing away at her pre-med studies. Needless to say, we are all stressed.
—––LDP has an uplifting culture and we always look out for one another. Our team members are the first people we turn to when we need help; often, help is offered before we even have to ask. When our tests and projects all hit in the same week, members are quick to pick up tasks from other teammates, knowing it will be reciprocated in the future. For example, while Sudd was cramming to finish his research and thesis, the team assured he wasn’t given any excess work. We celebrated when he passed his defense, and Diogo recognized Sudd’s achievement and dedication during a Thursday morning meeting. When Connor decided to run for USG President, we rallied behind him, watching his debate, advertising, chalking his name around campus, and helping to mentor him when needed.
—–The LDP team had an amazing weekend packed full of volunteering. While half of our team was at the Big Event volunteering, the other half had an extraordinary opportunity to finish our project at PUKA daycare center. They needed help with the restoration of a roof on a storage shed near their playground. PUKA uses this shed to make sure the kids can have a place to keep all of their toys safe from any harsh weather. Although it was 6 A.M., cold, snowy, and windy, we used each other as a team to stay motivated. This volunteering event was also a great time with everyone finding a way to have fun with each other while building the roof.
—–Any student in a STEM major will be familiar with a certain mathematical constant; it is used extensively when working with circles and is known as the ratio between circumference and diameter. Of course, this constant has the name pi. This number is irrational, which means that the decimal digits go on forever. Traditionally, the LDP Pi Day was a challenge that tasked students of SIU to attempt reciting as many digits of pi from memory as they could. Some may say that memorizing countless digits of an endless number is a useless talent, but the meaning lies beneath the face value. This year, the event has been expanded to not only challenge students to memorize pi, but it will be a true celebration of the importance of mathematics in our everyday life. We will strive to look at not just what mathematics is, but also what it means in the real world. —–On April 6, students from SIU along with kids from middle and high schools in the community, will join the LDP to celebrate pi at the College of Engineering. Many will compete for prizes or simply enjoy the activities and games provided by the SIU Math Club. With these fun and interactive demonstrations, students will be able to see many applications of mathematical concepts. We have the pleasure of providing these students with pizza and desserts kindly provided by Carbondale’s Pagliai’s Pizza. —– —–Competitors will be rewarded with their own commemorative t-shirt, graciously donated by the SIU Stem Education Research Center. As a math major, I am grateful to have been picked as the leader of a project that celebrates my field of study, and I believe this project will be able to show students the true value of mathematics in our society.
—–Going on outside tours is an awesome opportunity offered in the LDP experience. This past Thursday, we were given the opportunity to explore the Aisin Electronics assembly plant in Marion, IL. I have personally seen many assembly lines that make many different products, like CNC machines, hamburger buns, and automobiles, but the most complex and intricate assembly lines I have ever seen were in the Aisin facilities. The assembly lines were in a spotless room; the attention to detail regarding cleanliness caught us all off guard. This was a vastly different working environment than what most students would expect of an assembly plant. We expected the plant to be loud, hot, and dirty, but it was climate controlled with excellent filtration and humidity control to keep debris that may damage components to a minimum. Furthermore, the overwhelming speed and accuracy at which the robots assembled components and checked for defects astonished and inspired us all. ——————————————- One of my favorite aspects of the tour was the time we spent with the members of the Aisin team before and after. We were able to speak with many of the professional staff and had question and answer sessions that allowed us to ask what we will need to know if we plan to seek employment there. In turn, this gave us time to educate ourselves in preparation for the real world. The knowledge that we gained from simply asking questions with the staff was a benefit that we couldn’t gain from a lecture in a classroom. It can be intimidating when a student first enters the workforce; it’s almost like we have this image of the companies and their employees being superhuman. At times, we assume their expectations of us will be insurmountable, but after meeting with employees of outside companies they were able to help lessen this apprehension of starting employment. We realized they are humans just like us who want to help us succeed in our transition into the workforce. Touring a facility is Touring a facility is inspiring to students as it gives us a glimpse of what we are striving to achieve through our education. It may be difficult for us to take the time away from our studies to go, but tours are often undervalued by students. However, we can gain a wealth of knowledge from seeing the processes and speaking with staff members of these companies. After seeing what Aisin has to offer for the people who work there, it is easy to understand why they claim to be one of the best kept secrets in Southern Illinois. Their excellent staff, leadership, and constant strive for greatness allow them to be one of the leaders in the transportation manufacturing industry.