While many students learn from hands-on experience as student leaders with their organization, residence hall community, athletic team, etc., there are students who want to learn more about leadership and identity to enhance their experience.
The Office of Student Life assists students with their leadership development by providing resources, skills, training, creative solutions and guidance to develop as programmers, student organizers, peer leaders, and eventually responsible citizens through out of the class experiences that provide tools and real-world knowledge.
The Office of Student Life also assists students with their identity development, by designing and providing opportunities to develop a thorough understanding and appreciation for themselves, their contributions and responsibilities to the college and outlying community, and their role as a member of the globalized world so that they may develop as advocates, humanitarians, leaders, and responsible citizens.
Frosh Leadership Weekend
As first year students are initially filtering in to the various leadership roles on campus, Frosh Leadership Weekend offers them an opportunity to engage with each other and the local community while developing leadership skills together. The program is based on a peer mentorship model, whereby it is co-led by sophomores who were either attendees of the prior year’s program, or simply sophomore leaders interested in helping the rising class of first year students become better leaders. In collaboration with these sophomores, a program consisting of leadership workshops, team building activities, a group overnight, and a final culminating service trip produce a jam packed weekend of activity, leadership development, and group bonding.
Students that have gone through the program have moved on to take central leadership positions both inside the classroom and out. With such a strong emphasis on paying it forward by leading the year after you attend, the passing of both experience and institutional memory helps to create a tradition in developing one another’s potential.
Leading Minds (EphVentures)
The Leading Minds First-Year Ephventure program is a mid-orientation program dedicated to the development and cultivation of the next cohort of student leaders here at Williams College. Through a program loosely framed around the Social Change Model of Leadership Development, and focused on self-awareness, group interaction, community service, and resource mapping, students engage with one another and the broader Williams/Berkshire community for a full 3-day emersion program.
Initially students are introduced to one another, their leaders, and themselves through self-presentations and workshops around realization of personal strengths. Team building through fun local activities like bowling, scavenger hunts, and lawn games inject a dose of community building while students also learn about conversations around diversity, public speaking skills, and various leadership styles that they can work with themselves. Introducing the students to both peer leaders and key college administrators provides them an opportunity to discover resources that will be an integral key to their success as emerging leaders themselves.
A community service project in the local area, followed by a full day and overnight at a local YMCA camp offers up direct engagement with the surrounding area and a capstone experience that indelibly fuses together their group of “Mindlings” together before launching into their first semester as Williams students. Students are empowered to take chances, lead in their own rite, and make a lasting and positive impact upon their communities going forward.
Life After Williams
What comes after leaving Williams College? This is a question lots of students ask themselves, and many of which do so in the final moments of their time as members of the college community. Life After Williams is a series of dinners dedicated to help answer that precise question. Bringing together students, staff and administrators in an intimate dining experience, Life After Williams aims to help students figure out some of the “real world” skills that come with being a college graduate. Topics such as Benefits and Savings, Finding Housing, Living the “Liberal Arts”, and Finding YOUR Community are just a few examples of the topics the dinners tackle.
During the latter half of the Spring semester, five to six dinners are hosted in Dodd Dining Hall. Generally dinners are limited to 30 students, with at least five staff or administrators present. One “keynote” staff/admin kicks off the dinner with a brief introduction to the evening’s topic, then allowing individual tables to continue the discussion to get those dwelling questions answered. Having grown since it’s inception 2 years ago, this program has become a very popular source of insight and guidance as students begin to discover where they will be in the world after their time here at Williams.
NACA Northeast Conference
NACA (National Association of Campus Activities) is dedicated to the development and implementation of intentional and successful programs, activities, speakers, and novelties throughout colleges in the United States. Each year, OSL brings a cohort of 4-6 Williams students to the Northeast Regional Conference which occurs in Hartford Connecticut. This opportunity provides attendees a broad breadth of engagement, including educational workshops, samples of a multitude of performers and speakers, and exposure to a huge number of different vendors providing everything from speakers, to novelty items, to inflatable bounce castles.
As a conference, this opportunity is centrally focused on students interested in bringing new and different performers and activities to the Williams community. Through attending, things such as TRON Lasertag, the Silent Headphone Disco, and a comedic balloon artist were all brought to Williams. Exposing student leaders to these acts first hand provides a great way to see what could come to Williams, and how it can make the most positive impact on the student body.