LeaderShape program fosters community in six-day retreat

The ninth annual LeaderShape Institute session took 62 students from St. Edward’s University to New Braunfels, Texas this year.

LeaderShape is an all-expenses-paid leadership program that provides students with a high-energy environment where they can create close bonds with other participants. Over the course of six days, students participate in activities that encourage integrity, relationship-building and goal-setting.

LeaderShape emphasizes that the beginning of any successful idea or action begins with saying, “I can do this better.” The program pushes participants to step out of their comfort zones in order to achieve their visions.

“I gained confidence in the vision I have for my future, and I feel more sure about the path I’ve etched out for myself,” sophomore Daja Shealey said.

While LeaderShape is highly recommended by most students who have gone, there is an ambiguity about the program’s curriculum that maintains the novelty of the experience year after year. When most program alumni are asked about their time in LeaderShape, they frequently answer that it is indescribable and has to be experienced first hand.

To the participants, it becomes much more than just a leadership conference. Some students claim that LeaderShape has positively changed their lives.

“It had a really big impact on me, and I believe it changed the path I was on as a student and adult leader,” junior and On-Site Coordinator Dominique Martinez said.

Community is a large aspect of the program. The close environment of the program allows for the participants to put down any social barriers and come together as a support group and tight-knit community.

“As a participant, you can go in with 60 strangers, but leave with 60 new very close friends. Also, [facilitators] get to reach students that they would not get to on a daily basis while working at the university,” Martinez said.

Over 51,000 participants from 71 colleges, universities and corporations around the world have attended the LeaderShape Institute.

“The way they do their exercises challenge the way people who have leadership positions do it,” freshman Jonathan Carter said.

LeaderShape is open to all undergraduate students who have not previously participated in the program.

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