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As your Students’ Association, we know that learning goes beyond the classroom; we know that there’s so much more to university than just grades. There’s the relationships you build, the experiences you have, the differences you explore, and the challenges you face. The Pinnacle Leadership Challenge is here to push you to reach your full potential, and to help you recognize and develop your own capability for leadership.
We talked to two students who participated in the program. Here to give us some insight on what potential participants should expect, Ashton Turcotte and Will Conner.
Ashton Turcotte Will Conner
What program are you in?
AT: 2nd year, Policy Studies.
WC: 3rd year, Bachelor of Science, Computer Information Systems.
When did you do the Pinnacle Leadership Challenge?
AT: I did the challenge during my first year, 2016-17.
WC: 2016-17 year.
Why did you decide to join the challenge?
AT: I wanted to improve on my leadership skills and meet new people. I was interested in seeing what kind of person I am and who I could be. The free food was an added bonus. I’m so glad I decided to join up. I’m now able to understand what kind of leader I am and understand different kinds of leaders. I’m a relationship builder so I am able to facilitate discussion in groups and help people come out of their shells. I like bringing people together and I feel much more skilled at that now.
WC: It looked interesting and a staff member recommended it to me. Both MRU and SAMRU offer so many opportunities to improve your skill set, so I try to take as many as my schedule allows. I want to walk out of here as rich a person as I can.
How have you used this program in your school and/or work life?
AT: In school, I find I’m able to work more efficiently in a group. I speak up so I can give others the opportunity to do the same. This creates a comfort zone so people can contribute and work together. I’m on a couple of committees too and it’s given me great insight on how to work with others. I keep the atmosphere fun, light, and open.
WC: The biggest benefit I got from it was learning and practicing how to communicate and delegate. I struggled very much with how to identify under-performance and resistance in groups. One of the things that came up in the workshops, in facilitating conversations and discussions, was how to tap into people’s strengths. It made a big difference in my group projects. I was better able to coach people through the group work process by doing this.
Would you recommend this program to others?
AT: I actually just recommended the program to my friend! I would absolutely recommend the program. It’s a great way to meet new people and since everyone is in the same boat, it’s easier to connect with them. We also do team building activities, which creates an opportunity to bring people together.
WC: Absolutely. I think the combination of the theory and the workshops with the practical application is great. Because there’s opportunity for practical application up front, you can learn as you go. Often you don’t actually get to put what you learn into practice for years so the practical component is a great addition.
What was your favourite part of the program?
AT: The Winter semester activities and simulations are great! That’s really when you start bonding and getting to know one another.
WC: The Strengths coaching with Andrea [Davis, SAMRU’s Student Advocacy Coordinator] and Communication & Facilitation workshop were both great.
Why do you think it’s beneficial for students to take part?
AT: You get to know what kind of leader you are, what your strengths are and how to use them to your advantage. These skills will teach you how to work well with others whose talents might lie in other areas.
WC: It’s an easy way to get out of your comfort zone. Andrea and Amber were very delicate in their execution and expectations. There’s lots of options to complete the program requirements that fit your style. A lot of the program is about finding out about your and others’ style, the program offerings really reflected that philosophy.
What should students expect from the program? Were you surprised by anything?
AT: You might come out with more friends than you thought and a better understanding of what kind of person you are. I also connected with a lot of the SAMRU staff, many of whom are now professional references for me! This came in especially handy when I wanted to join the SAMRU Board of Governors.
WC: It was more self-directed than I thought it would be but that left me to only hold myself accountable. I took greater ownership because of it.
Do you consider yourself a leader?
AT: I do now. First year, I didn’t. This year, though, I’m taking more leadership roles. I also find people are starting to look up to me as a role model; someone who’s involved and well-connected. I’m part of many groups on campus now. I was a Peer Support volunteer last year and I’m part of the Policy Studies club and MRU Liberals club this year. I was also successful in becoming a SAMRU governor. Pinnacle gave me more confidence to connect with other students and staff and really get involved on campus.
WC: Humbly, yes. I think I have the skills but I try not to let it get to my head. Leadership isn’t about power, it’s about motivation.
Would you like to share your top 5 talents with readers? Did you agree/disagree with your results?
AT: Connectedness, Input, Includer, Empathy, and Harmony were my top five talents when I did the Strengths Finder test. I wasn’t sure when I first read them but then I read the description, and that sounded much more like me. Each talent has a general description and then a description personalized to you. It was surprisingly accurate.
WC: Activator, Woo, Communication, Adaptability, Restorative. I was surprised by my results. They weren’t what I thought they would be and I was even uncomfortable with them. It challenged my self-perception. The strengths that I thought I had, tended to be more weaknesses. I was actually using my core strengths to compensate for them. That really showed me that I had naturally adapted to overcome my challenges.
How have you used this information and transformed them into strengths?
AT: I’m really focused on the Includer talent. I take a lot of joy in helping others get involved and have their voices heard in group settings.
WC: It’s changed my interpersonal interactions. I’m able to have better reciprocal relationships with friends and family instead of coming across as demanding.
Any last pieces of advice for students considering signing up?
AT: JUST DO IT!
WC: Don’t think you don’t have the time to do it. It’s more of a meditative than an academic process and worth every minute you put into it.
We hope you’ll consider this amazing (and free) development opportunity. If you’re like to enroll, please follow this link and fill out the form. Workshop registration will open as they become available. Check back here to see the workshops available for the 2017-18 year!