Today's employers demand strong leadership skills, and getting involved in campus life isn't the only way to develop them. At Appalachian State University, students can actually pursue a minor in leadership studies as they participate in clubs and organizations.
"It's not a question of whether you're going to lead or not. The question is, Will you be ready when it's your time to lead?" says Dr. Jim Street, associate director of Appalachian's McCaskey Center for Student Involvement and Leadership. He has coordinated the minor in leadership studies since its founding in 2007.
"When a student minors in leadership, it sends a strong message to employers that the student is ready to take on the challenges associated with leadership."
Senior Kate Stucke feels she's "ahead of the game" for pursuing a minor in leadership studies. "I think Appalachian gets set apart from other schools based on the leadership studies minor because it's just truly a unique program," said Stucke, whose major is communication studies. "You can take classes in so many different departments and you really get that hands-on experience."
Dr. Jim Street, Associate Director, Center for Student Involvement & Leadership: The Leadership minor is an 18-hour program. Students take two classes. They take a principles of leadership class, then they have to take a senior capstone in their final year. In between, they take twelve hours of courses related to leadership. The Leadership minor is very interdisciplinary in nature. We want students to look at this phenomenon of leadership, but we want them to look at it from different perspectives. What do the social psychologists tell us about leadership? What do the applied sciences of business management tell us about leadership? By looking at leadership from all of those different perspectives, in the end we have a better understanding of it.
Kate Stucke, Senior, Communications Studies Major: The Leadership Studies minor has allowed me to take classes in different disciplines. I'm currently in a Social Psychology class and I wouldn't have taken that otherwise if I hadn't been doing the minor.
Patrick Holder, Sophomore, History & Secondary Education Major: I want to be a teacher, so I started looking at all of the different classes that they offered, and they were all really useful, not just for teaching, but for any kind of real-world application where you're going to be working with other people. Personally, it's given me a lot more confidence about my ability to lead. The classes that I have taken have taught me how to really use everyone's skills and talents in a group to maximize the benefit and get that group goal.
Kate Stucke: It's really been beneficial because it's helped me explore my certain interests and it's confirmed to me that I would really like to go into the area of student development. And it's helped me grow as a person overall. It's truly a unique program and you really get that hands-on experience which I know Appalachian truly strives for - as being a bigger school but still having that small-school feel, and I really feel like the Leadership Studies minor falls within the whole aspect of the Appalachian family.
Dr. Jim Street: When a student minors in Leadership, it sends a strong message to potential employers that that student is ready to take on the challenges associated with leadership. We believe that leadership is open to everyone. I ask all of my students, "Are leaders born or made?", and we have a lively debate about that. In the end, I tell them that if you're an Appalachian student, it's not a question of whether you're going to lead or not, the question is will you be ready when it's your time to lead.