Students Experience Leadership Development Opportunities

October 13, 2015

College is a time to learn; a time to experience life away from home and make new friends; a time to experience new things and take on new responsibilities. It can also be a time to develop valuable skills … skills that will provide a lifetime of benefit.

Students at OBU have the chance to learn much, take on many responsibilities and to develop many lifelong skills. One of the most valuable skills they have the opportunity to hone is leadership.

In the spirit of teaching students leadership skills and opening the doors to on-campus leadership opportunities, the university hosted the Bison Leadership Conference Sept. 18-19 on campus.

The 100 attendees of the conference were specifically invited by professors and other administrators because of their leadership positions on campus. This is the fourth year for the conference, which has been held in various locations.

The idea for the retreat surfaced about four years ago through the combined efforts of Holly Edwards, director of student leadership and engagement, and Dr. Brandon Skaggs, associate vice president for student development and dean of students, along with several professors. They wanted to encourage leadership within the student body, but did not have a solidified program to assist in their efforts. With the launch of the retreat, their vision for leadership growth on campus was realized.

Edwards has a clear vision for leadership development on campus. “I want to equip and develop students to lead well not only during their time at OBU, but also after their time on Bison Hill. I want to see them grow into leaders who follow Christ and leaders who are worth following.”

OBU offers multiple intensive leadership training opportunities throughout the year, including the Bison Leadership Conference, the Women’s Leadership Conference (held in the spring), and Emerging Leaders (an opportunity for freshmen).

Sydnie Gabbard, a senior at OBU, learned how to be aware as a leader during the Bison Leadership Conference. “The main thing that stuck out to me was the importance of being self- aware and aware of others surrounding you,” she said. “It is important to be self-aware so that you can identify your personal needs. If you are not self-aware, this can be detrimental to your lifestyle as a college student. It is difficult balancing everything we have going on, but awareness of a busy schedule, and knowing when to say ‘no’ is crucial for success.”

During the two-day retreat, prominent author and speaker Jeremie Kubicek led the training sessions. Kubicek has authored numerous books on leadership, and his method, the “5 Gears of Leadership,” is widely known and praised. He also co-founded the GiANT companies. Through Kubicek’s teachings, students were given helpful tools on leadership for their service on campus and in everyday life.

Will Engle, a sophomore at OBU, learned a great deal during the conference. “Mr. Kubicek really emphasized the fact that you have to be able to lead yourself before you can effectively lead others. The conference taught me a lot about myself concerning my strengths and weaknesses as a leader.”

Gabbard encourages all students with the opportunity to attend the retreat in the future. “I would recommend this retreat to others because it is a fun time to get away from school work, but still be surrounded by your college friends,” she said. “I was given tools that will continue to help me succeed and finish out my senior year well at OBU.”