September 24, 2020

BY KEILA MACPHERSON

Some may view a leader as a bold, charismatic and powerful person at the head of a group, but in the words of Student Life programmer Janina Robinson, “leadership is action, not position.”kmconnect (2)WEB

This is the idea the Connect! Leadership workshop series has brought to hundreds of students since the workshops started in 2009.

The Student Life department at Conestoga developed the workshops to show students they can be a leader whether or not they fit the stereotypical outline of what a leader is, and that leadership can be found in everyday actions and choices.

“We really look at everyone as having leadership capacity and leadership ability,” Robinson said.

Since the Connect! workshops started, Student Life has seen over 400 students participate per semester, with an average attendance of 25 to 35 students per workshop.

According to Robinson, last semester they ran 14 workshops at Doon campus and two at the Cambridge campus. This semester they ran 16 workshops at the Doon campus.

If a student can’t make it because of conflicting schedules, there will be other chances to make it to one in the year.

“We run them twice per semester so a student has the opportunity to take them at four different times throughout each academic year,” Robinson said.

In the series there are seven workshops that fall into one of three main categories: Connect With Yourself, Connect With Others and Connect With Community.

If a student completes any one or more of the workshops before they graduate it will show on their transcript, but if a student completes all seven, they will earn a certificate signed by Conestoga’s president, John Tibbits.

In addition to looking good on a transcript, Robinson said Student Life’s goal was to make the workshops accessible and relevant to all of the college’s students, regardless of what year or program they are in.

Amy Duguid, a general arts and sciences student who graduated in December, has completed six of the seven workshops. Although the last one won’t be on her transcript, Duguid is allowed to finish the series and receive the certificate in September.

“I really liked that (they are) leadership workshops. Not only is it documented somewhere, but there’s real meaning and real lessons in each of them,” she said.

The Connect! series was developed in 2008 through a college advisory committee made up of Student Life staff, faculty, college staff and students, and it continues to be shaped by students’ evaluations after each workshop to better serve the participants.

“We’re looking at the student as a whole person, not just their academics, not just outside of the classroom, but really bringing all of those pieces together and how that relates to students’ ability to look at themselves as leaders,” Robinson said.