Students Sharpen Their Leadership Skills

Students dressed up for a skit
Don London, Jonathan Moreno, Ronald Brown, Perla Pacheo and Karen Peralta (l-r) prepare for their skit performance at the fall Student Leadership Retreat.

It’s only fitting that the future movers and shakers of this world would meet in a kingdom. It was Possum Kingdom; but it was a kingdom, nonetheless. And even though TCC students met there to sharpen their leadership skills, and not to decide who would rule over the opossums, you have to admit that the title Supreme Monarch of Indigenous North American Marsupials would look pretty impressive on a resume. Students from all five campuses convened at Camp Grady Spruce on the shores of Possum Kingdom Lake this fall for a weekend of leadership sessions, team-building workshops and learning activities.

Their true colors shine through

One of the first things on the agenda was to divide the group by color. Before you jump to conclusions, we’re talking about personality color. Students took a True Colors personality assessment, which divides personality types into four dominant colors to foster self-awareness and better communication.

After learning about the strengths and challenges of each personality color, they gathered for a series of team-building exercises, ranging from fairly simple to downright frustrating. Throwing a large group of outspoken leaders into a challenging situation can get a little tense, but they eventually worked it out.

Southeast Campus student Florisa Esquivel said the experience taught her a valuable lesson. “It’s hard to work with other leaders,” she said. “And sometimes you have to put down your power for a little bit, and be a good follower, as well as a good leader, and that way things will get done.”

Students at Leadership Retreat
Click image to see video.

Learning to bend without breaking

In fact, many of the students remarked that the old idea of a drill sergeant barking orders has been replaced with a kinder, more flexible leader. They said they learned being a good leader has just as much to do with following as leading. The trick is to know when to do which one.

“As leaders we need to learn how to accept other people’s values and their ideas,” said Hilary Perez from the Trinity River Campus. “By doing so we also learn how to finish projects more efficiently and get things done together right with fewer arguments.”

In addition to those soft skills, the students also learned about more tangible habits of effective leaders, like time management, money management and organization. On the last night, the retreat culminated with groups teaming up to present skits highlighting what they had learned over the weekend. When it was all over, lessons had been learned; friends had been made; embarrassing moments had been video-recorded.

South Campus student Jerome Birdow summed up the value of the weekend by saying, “When you get different worlds all together, you learn a lot of things.” Peter Salas from the Northeast Campus echoed those sentiments with, “I realized that we are just one big family, even though we have different campuses.”

Don’t miss the next one

This retreat was so successful; they may have to call the next one an “advance.” South Campus student offered this encouragement to those of you who are considering getting in on the next one. “Just give it a chance, even if you’ve never done it,” she said. “This is totally different — coming out of your comfort zone, getting so much energy — then coming back to your campus to reach out to other people.”

Check with the Student Activities Office on your campus to learn how you can get involved.