Engaging and Empowering Students as Leaders

Engaging and Empowering Students as Leaders

Another purposeful aspect of a supportive campus community is the opportunity for students to take responsibility for their lives on campus. Director for Student Engagement Rick McClendon works with individuals and student groups to place more decision-making power in the hands of students, so they can become directly responsible for the types and quality of activities on campus. McClendon works to facilitate conversations between campus groups and students regarding the creation and execution of various student activities.

“My role has transitioned from a student activities model to an engagement model, which means students are at the forefront of deciding the types of activities we bring to campus, when we do them and for what purpose,” said McClendon. “I engage students through various organizations, such as the student government association. I also advise our campus activity network that includes two student-run organizations that manage the budget. My job is simply to organize conversation. What do students want, and to what extent are our dollars able to meet the demands of students? ”

McClendon has found the new model of student engagement to be very successful, in terms of student participation, building community and providing opportunities for students to develop leadership skills and apply them to real-life situations.

“When students plan and manage their activities, they gain valuable skills, and ultimately, the programs are more successful,” said McClendon. “This model has helped students learn budgeting, team dynamics, how to give instructions to complete tasks, take financial responsibility and even market a product or design programs for students.”

By focusing on processes that create active student engagement, Shenandoah helps students shape their futures and strengthen their connections to each other and the larger community. As these connections reach across the different academic units and areas of interest within Shenandoah, students learn how to bridge differences and broaden their understanding and acceptance of one another.