UM boasts of more than 200 registered organizations, each with a unique purpose to make the UM community a better place and give students the opportunity to express themselves outside the classroom. What would happen if the leaders involved on campus were to come together to make a change at the University?
This question led to the development of I.M.P.A.C.T., or Individuals Meeting Potential and Creating Tomorrow. The Volunteer Services Center, Multicultural Student Affairs, Student Government, the Department of Residential Halls, the Center for Student Leadership and key administration and faculty joined together to create a program that would seek out involved students with strong potential to become leaders, educated them and let them define and work on weak areas in student involvement on campus.
More than 75 students were nominated to be participants and 17 were nominated as facilitators during this weekend. After being nominated, they were asked to fill out an application and go through an interview process. At the end, about 30 participants and seven facilitators were invited to attend the three-day experience.
“We chose predominantly first and second year students as participants, but there were a few upperclassmen that made good impressions,” Keith Fletcher, resident coordinator in Hecht Residential College, said. “The goal was to identify the blossoming leaders whose potential was yet untapped.”
The group boarded a bus and went to Key Largo for three days with little knowledge of what was before them. Opening activities centered on team building and creative ice breakers that helped the group get to know each other. Lessons were taught through various tasks and speakers, including David Coleman, the “date doctor,” and were based off of the five practices outlined in The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes Posner.
On the last day, five groups were formed with specific ideas that were to be developed. Each of the ideas pertained to leadership on campus and how to get more students involved. While the ideas have not yet been released, they are tangible concepts with intended start dates that have a high probability of being implemented.
Participants and facilitators quickly realized the strength the group possessed as one and the almost instantaneous bond between them.
“Before participating in I.M.P.A.C.T., I never would have guessed that spending a weekend with 30 strangers would essentially become one of the most memorable experiences of my life,” Jessica Gentile, freshman, said. “I will definitely take the skills that I learned through I.M.P.A.C.T.’s programs and apply them to various areas of my life, and I will always remember the group of people who have contributed to my newfound strengths.”
Plans are under way to open I.M.P.A.C.T. to more students by having a Fall retreat aimed at sophomores and a Spring session for freshmen.
Stacey Arnold can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.