A Warm Welcome

A Warm Welcome

At the beginning of this semester, I had no clue what the Leadership Development Program (LDP) was or what they did. However, on September 13, I was invited to take part in a game night hosted by the LDP. Everyone was friendly and professional and by the end of the night, I was all in. 

After making the decision to join the LDP, I went to their next meeting at 5:30 a.m. on the following Tuesday at the SIU Recreation Center. I had not completed a group workout since I left the Marine Corps last July and was looking forward to this experience. The standards of physical fitness I am acquainted with are a little more developed, but every person there put forth exemplary effort in a way that impressed me. Being surrounded by people that not just want to better themselves, but actively do so daily, is all I ask for.

During work outs chances for conversation are sparse, so I decided to stay back and asked Ryan Nick, the Vice President of LDP, about the program. He was extremely helpful, answering all my questions regarding the structure of the LDP, the projects we do, social events, and his own story. To my shock, I found out that almost all the members of the LDP had known each other since at least August, where they spent an entire week completing challenges and finding ways to work together as a team. This came as a shock to me, I didn’t know that everyone had spent that much time together. Being the new guy, so to speak, I silently wondered to myself if I’d be spending a few weeks on the outside of the group.

Although the worry may have been well founded at the time, I couldn’t tell you how wrong it was. On that following Thursday, everyone greeted me with smiles on their faces and remembered my name. They asked for my input and treated it with the same value as any member of the LDP. This group of young scholars and leaders made me feel like a real part of the team and incredibly valued. There are few organizations I could say that about.

During my 30-day trial period with the LDP, I saw first-hand the core values in action. I took part in four team-building workouts, a bonfire, a food drive, blood drive, and earned over six hours of community service. During the LDP tailgate Dr. DeRuntz and I talked about summer internship plans and he went out of his way to introduce me to a sponsor, who is currently scheduling an interview with me. All this happened in my first 30 days, and I can’t wait to find out what will happen in the next 30.