BUILD leadership series in full swing, offers opportunity

Sovi Herring | Staff Writer

Feb. 16, 2023

Duquesne is helping students BUILD their resume–one leadership event at a time.

Last fall, incoming students were able to participate in the New Student Interest Survey through Campus Link. From this survey, new undergraduate and graduate students had the ability to input what they were interested in on campus and what they’d like to see developed during their time.

Since then, the Center for Student Involvement has been going through those responses and finding ways to bridge the gap between existing opportunities and crafting new ones.

One of those gaps was improving the BUILD Leadership program after its last cohort in Spring 2022 based on participant feedback and what new students are looking for in experiential leadership opportunities during their college careers.

The BUILD program itself “provides participants with a foundation for leadership and involvement within both on and off campus organizations,” said Ashley Kane, the Assistant Director of Freshman Development and Student Programming, in an email to respondents of the New Student Interest Survey. Kane is the developer, rebrander and main facilitator of BUILD.

This semester, there were more applications to the program than seats available, which was a good sign to the team as they learn how the program should grow in the coming years, Kane said.

The goals of the program are quite expansive, and administrators aim to accomplish them through a series of workshops over the semester.

Topics for the 2023 cohort include mission statement development, keeping up with busy to-do lists, balancing mental health with responsibilities and communicating through conflicts.

The capstone to the program will occur in April as the participants complete the series through participation and collaboration within the group.

The Spring 2023 Cohort began in late January with a workshop titled “Developing your Personal Mission Statement.”

In this workshop, Dr. Luci-Jo DiMaggio went over the basic components of a mission statement and then led breakouts for student leaders as they crafted new mission statements for their organizations.

The latest session that concluded was “Tackling Your To-Do List,” where Kane and graduate assistant Tiffany Kells led the discussion.

They provided strategies and tools to help leaders section off their main task areas, such as academics and personal life, and put them into categories using the Eisenhower Matrix.

This method uses a system of prioritizing to help make decisions easier.

“Who better to learn from than a president with a dire need to prioritize,” said Cheyenne Weld, one of the students participating in the BUILD series. “I’m most looking forward to the growth this program will have on my leadership capabilities,” Weld said. “Later in the program we’ll talk about mental health as a leader, so that’s something I can’t wait to participate and learn from.”

Graduate assistant Kells said students should look to apply for the BUILD fall 2023 semester series if they are “directors, presidents, resident directors, leaders for the upcoming year and anyone looking to become more active in their organizations.”

Student success coaches (academic advisors) nominate students to become involved in BUILD as well, Kane said. Basically, the leadership series is looking for “students that are already great leaders and know it, great leaders that don’t know it or anyone who hasn’t had the opportunity to do something like this.”

“People sometimes have the impression that leadership is cookie-cutter–that you need to be a certain way to be a leader anywhere, and that’s just not true,” Kane said.

While the Center for Student Involvement’s campus link mentions the program, it is not present on the Duquesne website. Most of the communication about it comes in the form of email blasts and social media posts from Kane.

The leadership series will continue to BUILD students’ foundations in developmental opportunities through the spring, and applications for the fall series will be announced to all students online.

Through participation in each semester’s leadership series, BUILD “aim[s] to enhance skills needed for participants to become an effective leader within any given organization,” Kane said.