LEAD Program opening ceremonies welcomes students to new academic year

The Leadership Education and Development Program kicked off another year at the Sept. 6 event in McKinnon Hall with a keynote address by Kenn Gaither from the School of Communications.

Reena John '18 provides the student persepctive on the LEAD Program
Students and staff gathered Sept. 6 at the LEAD Opening Ceremonies in McKinnon Hall to kick off another year of the Leadership Education and Development Program.

The LEAD Program is a three-tiered, self-paced program open to all students. Tier I, “Leading the Self,” explores personal foundations of leadership and establishing one’s self as an authentic leader. Tier II, “Leading with Others,” focuses on civic responsibility, group dynamics and cultural awareness and appreciation.

Tier III, “Leading for Change,” is a culmination of a student’s leadership experience through immersion in positive social change. The opening ceremonies event is an annual tradition for new and current students to learn about the program and gain inspiration for the year ahead.

Dana Carnes, associate director of the Center for Leadership, welcomed both current and new LEAD Program participants. She discussed the importance of gaining leadership skills at Elon. 

“Leadership skills are the number one thing that employers are looking for in college graduate,” she said. Carnes also highlighted that more than half of all incoming first-year students expressed an interest in leadership during their time at Elon.

Reena John, a sophomore who completed Tier I and Tier II of the LEAD Program during her first year, spoke about how LEAD has helped her grow as an individual and as a leader within student organizations. 

Associate Professor Kenn Gaither gave the keynote address at the LEAD Opening Cermonies.
Associate Professor Kenn Gaither, associate dean in the School of Communications, challenged the students to be open to change during their time at Elon. He compared the change process to that of a block of ice; first you have to unfreeze from your current state, change, and then refreeze. Unfreezing can be the hardest part because you have to let go of old positions and articulate a new vision for the future.

To help students with the unfreezing proccess, Gaither asked students to pick one small goal for the year and to write it down on a note card. “Put it someplace that you will have to see it everyday,” Gaither said. The more you see it the more likely you will be to stick to that goal.

Participants then broke out into their respective Tier groups to learn more about the requirement​s of the program and upcoming events.

Students interested in learning more about LEAD can visit the Center for Leadership website or email lead@elon.edu