When Marie VanBuskirk coordinated the Emerging Recreation Leadership Panel, she was selective in the recruiting process. The goal was to find students who have demonstrated natural leadership skills and were willing to further their development as a young professional. Each participant was required to fill out a survey discussing their accomplishments, why they thought this program would benefit them, and how they will make the most of each session. Fourteen students were ultimately chosen to participate. In order to graduate from the program, students are required to conduct a presentation early April 2016, demonstrating how the program impacted them.
The accepted participants were a combination of Rec Center staff from member services, aquatics, fitness and several building managers who devoted high quality service to the Rec. Participants have spoken very highly of the program, utilizing this experience as a launching pad to begin building their professional careers. Speakers were a diverse group of Oakland University alumni who are specialists in their respective career fields. The variety of presentations and experiences brought forth by each speaker, challenged students to look at the path of success from all angles. The program demonstrated the importance of adaptability and perseverance and the positive outcomes that stemmed from combining the two. This experience really hit home when speakers shared their personal struggles and setbacks. Through each speaker’s authenticity and openness, they provided participants a look inside their journey of rebuilding themselves, and discovering their purpose and value within the community.
Taylor James was one of the few who was accepted into the program. She was interested in the program to build her confidence and approach professionals to discuss her career goals. As a health science major, she felt a strong connection with one speaker in particular. She recalls how Simon Keleel, a nursing professional and OU Alumni impacted her with his story of overcoming obstacles. Having failed his board exam at first, he preached tenacity and utilizing other strengths of networking to achieve his purpose despite taking a different route.
Taylor reflected back on the how the program had benefited her as a student branching out into her career.
“The program pushed me to not be afraid to make those relationships,” says Taylor. “It helped me communicate better with those who have higher positions and to not be intimidated by their status.”
Some students even received valuable resources to take home as a thanks for engaging in the presentation. Mike Binge was the first to answer a question during Derek Dickow’s presentation and received the book “The Art of Selling yourself” by Harry Beckwith and Christine K. Clifford, which had been a huge influence for Dickow. Binge was interested in the program in order to develop his skills as an aspiring history teacher. For Binge, this program worked to develop his leadership skills necessary to conduct a successful classroom environment. He values how the program featured a wide range of speakers, from nurses, to a journalist, and even the mayor of Rochester. This has provided Mike with an enriching experience that he is able to channel into other parts of his life.
“I have learned many skills that I can bring to other things that I do such as my fraternity and future career,” says Mike.
Each student who had the privilege of attending this program was able to witness the stories of struggle and overcoming challenges. The authentic lessons shared by those who discovered their purpose through relentless pursuit, helped graduating students realize that there is more than one way to achieve success.
This program premiered in October 2015 making this the first of many to come. Students who graduate from the program this year, will return to mentor the second year’s promising, young leaders.