Inside D.U. leadership program

A rainbow of smiles.

That is what one will see when they head to Denison University’s Leadership program every year.

The D.U. Lead organization held their annual intensive weekend institute for emerging leaders in the Denison community.

First-year students are asked to apply on a rolling basis for the institute in August and are selected based on their responses to questions regarding what they hope to bring to Denison’s community and what makes them good leaders.

The rainbow represents the separate teams and the colors that identify them.

The weekend institute takes place off campus in Perry, Ohio at Camp Nuhop. The Nuhop center gives students the opportunity to escape their hectic schedules as participants go “off the grid” for the weekend, with no internet access or cell phone service. Instead, they split into groups of eight to 10 students to truly connect with each other and with Camp Nuhop’s natural setting.

Integrity is one staple theme of the program, with interactive activities and simulations that encourage students to pursue a social change model of leadership.

The model is based on the theory that no matter where one starts, they can implement change from the level of the individual all the way up to effecting change in institutions.

The emphasis on individual, group and value-based leadership is supported by the student leaders who mentor the first-year students through the model.

Gabe Schenker, a senior economics and theater double major from Cincinnati, Ohio and a coordinator of D.U. Lead said, “I attended D.U. Lead as a first-year, and what made the experience remarkable for me was the connections I made both with other participants from my class year as well as with upper-class student leaders.”

The students act as both facilitators of individual events and advisors to their group of students.

Schenker continued, “The advisors dedicated their time to help us understand leadership as a values- based process and explore ways that could implements leadership at Denison that align with our passions and values. The program was incredibly valuable for helping me kick-start my Denison career with ideas and direction. It’s important to me that young Denisonians continue to have opportunities to nd mentorships with experienced students who have found success in areas of shared interest, which is why I came back to help out with D.U. Lead as a coordinator and advisor the last couple years.”

Kelsey Schwimmer, a senior education and psychology double major from Lawrenceville, New Jersey believes D.U. Lead is the cornerstone for first-year students who want to learn how to truly make an impact at Denison.

She said, “I love being a part of this program because I get to meet first-year students who are passionate about and excited to create positive social change.”

D.U. lead has traditionally been a great bonding place for students who are still so new to the campus.

Max Curtin ‘21, an undecided major from New Hampshire said, “I really enjoyed the family friendly atmosphere that D.U. Lead had. It was great getting to know not only other freshmen I haven’t met yet, but also the upper classmen leaders that were in charge. I liked it so much that I would consider becoming a leader myself. After all, leadership is a big part of the program and it left a big impact.”

Beyond learning how to be great leaders on campus, D.U. Lead is an additional outlet for first-year students to understand their peers and build lasting connections at Denison and after.

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