On January 17th, the Saluki Science Ambassadors (SSA) kicked off the semester by volunteering at a Gumdrops event. Gumdrops is an amazing non-profit charity in Carterville, Illinois. This charity provides at-risk children with backpacks containing a weekend’s worth of food. Their mission is to remove barriers to academic success for the at-risk children by providing them with the food they need, giving them one less thing to worry about. This charity feeds over 1,300 children every week. As a community outreach RSO, the SSA thought this was a perfect place to volunteer.
Helping at Gumdrops wasn’t only a way for us to get back into the swing of things, but also a great way to give back. At SSA, we strive to give back to the community as often as our busy schedules allow us. Another nice perk of the Gumdrops event was that it gave us an opportunity to spend time together as an RSO and get to know each other better. I’m proud of my team for growing closer as an organization while doing something positive, and it’s just another reason why I love SSA.
The LDP achieved a major goal last year when we expanded to include the other STEM colleges: College of Science, College of Applied Science and Arts, and the College of Agriculture. This is an important achievement because of its alignment with our LDP Vision: To become the premier university program that develops global technical leaders. Our goal was just to be inclusive of the other STEM Majors; however, we were pleasantly surprised by the diverse skills and ideas all the new students have contributed.
The first attribute I noticed was the invaluable resource that our pre-med majors bring in the form of first-aid training. They embraced the responsibility of being our group’s medic with passion. Our medical preparedness gets better each semester and with each treatment experience. I have even noticed a sense of confidence and safety from our team members knowing we have trained people in our group in the event that something may go astray.
While wrapping up the Fall 2017 semester, I was granted the opportunity to become the President of the Saluki Environmental Educators (SEE). My time in SEE was brief prior to my nomination, but I didn’t require much time to realize that SEE was the organization where I wanted to focus my efforts. From the first meeting I knew that SEE’s mission resonated with my passions as an aspiring educator and nature enthusiast, and I recognized the potential for opportunities in which I could grow my leadership skills.
The Saluki Environmental Educators is a professional development Registered Student Organization (RSO) that seeks to promote environmental education, interpretation, public involvement, and volunteerism by partnering with community groups throughout Southern Illinois. We are a small but passionate crew of community-minded individuals with a myriad of interests and areas of study.
Let me give you a comparison of first-year Olivia to second-year Olivia. Last year, whenever I woke up at 5am for the Tuesday morning workout, I would be exhausted and think “Ugh, why am I in LDP? It doesn’t let me get any sleep, it messes up my schedule, I don’t even have class until 9:30, etc…” This year, I woke up equally exhausted one morning, and my first thought was, “Ugh, why did I stay up so late and do this to myself?” That moment, I realized “WOW, I just took accountability for being tired instead of blaming LDP.”
The LDP Christmas Party is a time to reflect upon and celebrate the year’s accomplishments within our organization. As members of this RSO we pledge to challenge our colleagues to push beyond their limits, and every one of our members has done just that this semester. I was lucky to have the opportunity to organize the party this year, and I was happy to have a chance to reward my teammates for their hard work. The party plans included 17th Street BBQ for dinner, cake for dessert, white elephant gift game, an ugly Christmas sweater contest, and a surprise visit from “Santa” D.
This month, John Caupert from Advancing Biofuels Research came to talk to us about effective leadership. He explained that the three most important things a leader can have is good teamwork, communication, and leadership. He likes to rearrange these to “TLC” because sometimes all a team needs, is some tender loving care.
When he was relocated to Texas for a job, John’s subordinates saw him in action as part of the team. Within John’s first week in Texas, he was asked to help with transporting grain for the transportation company he was working for. There was a miscommunication with the amount of grain that was supposed to go into the truck, and his rig ended up being over-filled. John immediately jumped in to fix the problem. When John’s team showed up for work they saw him shoveling grain from one truck to the other to correct the weight of grain, and John believes this was how he earned respect as a leader. He could have easily waited for the team to get to work and delegated the work to them, but instead he modeled the way. This is a huge lessen stressed in LDP, and John proved how important it is in the real world when it comes to successful leadership.
In today’s globally competitive job market, effective leaders are in high demand. The Leadership Development Program saw that need as a direct call to action, and since 2007 student leaders have been transitioning from students to industry leaders. Unfortunately, the reality is that women occupy only a fraction of leadership positions in industry, politics, and business. As for the ladies of the LDP, we saw the need for women in leadership roles and interpreted it as an opportunity to rise to the occasion.