Park Scholars to Earn Leadership Certificate

The copper wolves at Wolf Plaza. Photo by Marc Hall

Beginning with the Park Scholarships Class of 2024, scholars will complete the Leadership Development Program Leadership Certificate offered by NC State’s Office of Student Leadership and Engagement (SL&E).

SL&E creates and connects students to opportunities to gain knowledge, skills, tools, and experiences to practice socially responsible leadership and positively contribute to a socially just world. The advantages to participating in the Leadership Development Program are manifold and recommended by several Park Scholars who already earned the certificate in previous years. 

“It is imperative to be able to interact with all types of people and understand how their values, leadership styles, communication techniques, professional opinions, and so forth, may differ from what is commonly represented by students in the Park Scholarship program,” said Kelly Koehler ’23 who completed the certificate in spring 2021. “Interacting with people from various backgrounds, life stages, and affiliations with the university was great for opening my mind to other leadership styles and perspectives.”

Park Scholars will earn the Leadership Certificate by participating in the program’s 10 foundational workshops, engaging in a mentor relationship with their Park Faculty Scholar,  taking part in a leadership experience, and submitting a reflection paper. The 10 workshops are held over one semester and have the advantage of connecting Park Scholars across classes and with many other leaders across campus, as Koehler noted. 

To facilitate the curriculum change, the Park Scholarships program will phase out a portion of content from Leadership Academy, a series of workshops designed to develop Park Scholars’ leadership potential. The Leadership Academy sessions that paralleled the content provided by SL&E ranged from one to seven hours and took scholars approximately 29 hours to complete. With the change, Park Scholars will gain approximately seven hours of time which can be used for committee meetings, coursework, service projects, and other leadership activities. 

Participating in the program provides a structure for students to engage with their Park Faculty Mentors. “I learned about myself and my leadership style, and how to utilize my current skills while improving other, weaker skill sets,” shared Shannon Dolan ’22, who completed the certificate in spring 2021. “My Leadership Development Program coach was also my Park Faculty Mentor, and it gave us more structure and consistent check-ins throughout the semester.” While Dolan happened to select her Park Faculty Mentor as her leadership coach, this will be the norm going forward to facilitate stronger connections between Park Scholars and their Park Faculty Mentors.

“This program certainly made me more confident as a leader,” Koehler said. “I now understand my communication style, leadership style, and professional and personal values.”