Traveling in College: Semester Abroad Not Required!

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that there are several Philadelphia Futures collegians who have had the opportunity to spend a highly enriching semester abroad. From South Africa to Chile, our students have studied around the world and loved every mind-broadening moment of it.  If you are interested in travel, your college years are an ideal time to get out and see the world while you have access to unique funding opportunities and before you are tethered by a full-time job. While studying abroad for a full semester is certainly an option that every collegian is encouraged to explore, the truth is that it isn’t the best choice for every student.  However, if a semester abroad isn’t for you, don’t be discouraged! Consider one of these potential travel opportunities which may be more in line with your budget or degree plan:

  • Travel as part of a college course over winter or spring break

Many colleges offer courses during the spring semester which feature a travel component over spring break. Typically, students attend a class related to a specific country or culture throughout the semester, and then travel to study the topic in person over spring break. For example, as part of Arcadia University’s Preview program, students could choose to take a course about the music and culture of Austria, which included a trip to Vienna during the break. Similar programs are sometimes offered during the winter session. Collegians Sony and Frankie both spent time abroad as part of a college course during one of their school’s winter sessions.

  • Alternative spring break/service trips

Certain service organizations, such as United Way, offer opportunities to travel to a different American city over spring break in order to participate in community service projects. This type of service trip, often called Alternative Spring Break or ASB, is a great way to see the country for a very reasonable cost, all while helping communities in need!  Earlier this month, Temple sophomore Mingsi participated in Deloitte and United Way’s Alternative Spring Break program in Atlanta, GA, where she volunteered for Meals on Wheels and a local senior day care center.


Mingsi (holding sign) with other Alternative Spring Break participants

  • International Co-op

If you are a Drexel student, it may be worth considering doing your co-op abroad. Several financial awards are available to students who may need assistance in offsetting the added expense of living abroad. Futures alum Jonathan completed his co-op in Sierra Leone during the summer of 2014.

  • Get Creative!

In the past, we’ve featured students who have traveled the country through fully-funded opportunities offered by athletic teams, student organizations, and academic enrichment programs. No matter what your academic or extracurricular passions are, keep your eyes open and take advantage of any occasion to explore a new city or country that may arise through your interests!

Be A Team Player – Ace Your Next Group Project!

Group projects can be one of the most challenging types of assignments a college student has to face. As if it weren’t enough work managing your own time and productivity, group projects necessitate that you share the responsibility of keeping everyone else on track too. However, the ability to collaborate effectively with people who have learning and communication styles that may be vastly different from your own is an impressive skill valued by professors and employers alike!  The next time you see the words “group project” on the syllabus, keep these tips in mind to ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible:

Get to Know Your Group Members

Before you dive into planning your project, take a little time to get acquainted with your group members. Ask each member to share their major, academic and/or professional background, and what they consider to be their strengths. Getting to know each other will help you decide how to delegate the workload. For example, a Sociology major who loves working with data might be the best person to design any charts or graphs you need. Likewise, an English major with strong writing skills might excel at writing your abstract or editing your final report.

Keep In Touch

Get each group member’s name, email address and phone number during your very first meeting. Consider establishing a group text or Facebook group for the project, and check in with updates often.

Get (and Stay!) Organized

Once each task has been assigned, set clear deadlines for the completion of each component of your project.  Schedule a regular check-in meeting that works with everyone’s schedule, and reserve a space so that you don’t waste group time finding a place to work. Create a shared calendar that clearly lists each deadline and meeting date. According to Kasia Jaworski from Her Campus, Google Drive is wonderful for group projects, because “you can set up Word documents, spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations that all group members can access and work on. It eliminates sending a thousand emails back and forth with edits, which may lead to mistakes and missing parts. All members can work individually on their parts while seeing what other group members have added. It allows everyone to keep your project cohesive as it progresses” (

Anticipate and Manage Conflict

It’s natural for conflict to arise at some point during the course of the project. The key is to respectfully address the issue early on, before it leads to major headaches down the road. If you find that you have a conflict with another group member, it’s important to examine your own behavior first. Remember, group projects require that you draw upon both your leadership skills and your ability to apply constructive criticism and to compromise. Your goal should be to participate actively without monopolizing the group. If you feel like you have a tendency to dominate or micromanage in group work settings, remember to give everyone a chance to voice their thoughts and concerns, and be open to compromise. Conversely, always be sure that you are actively contributing to the group by communicating often and effectively, and by turning in quality material on time. If you find that it’s a fellow group member who is being overly controlling or not contributing their fair share of the work, it’s important to tactfully speak up. For example, you could encourage a bossy group member to ease off the reins by assuring them that you are just as invested in the project as they are and you’d really like to contribute more of your work and ideas. Only a very unreasonable person would be unwilling to compromise after you’ve made such a polite and well-intentioned request!

Of course, the classic worst-case scenario when it comes to group projects is having a group member who continuously fails to pull their weight by failing to meet deadlines and/or turning in subpar work (we’ve all encountered this guy at least once). Always do your best to correct the problem first by stressing to your wayward group member just how much you are all depending on them, and by offering helpful suggestions and encouragement. However, if all of your efforts to intervene are unsuccessful, it’s time to let your professor know what’s going on. Since you’ll be able to document what steps you’ve already taken to resolve the conflict on your own, they’ll be less likely to allow that group member’s lack of participation to impact your grade.

Adapted From:


Etiquette 101: Emailing Your Professors

While we’ve previously discussed the value of reaching out to your professors, keep in mind that when you contact a professor by email, it’s important to not only carefully consider what you say, but also how you say it. In the age of texting and Twitter, it’s understandable that many students have become a bit lax in their approaches to written communication. In this context, however, you are expected to present yourself professionally and in a manner which conveys respect.  In this post, we’ll show you how (and why!) to craft a thoughtful and polished email to your professor.

First, consider what NOT to do.

Put yourself in your professor’s shoes: you’ve spent the entire break creating the syllabus, selecting readings, and crafting exams and assignments. Then, you receive an email from a student that makes it seem as though they haven’t reciprocated any of your effort. How would you react? Probably something like this:

In the example above, the professor’s irritation is more than reasonable. Conversely, consider the following example, which features all of the elements of a professional, respectful email. Which would you prefer?

Follow these pointers to ensure that you’re presenting your best self in your emails:

  • Choose your subject header carefully

The subject of your email should be a few words which briefly sum up the purpose of your email. Don’t use a greeting (“hey professor”) or a very broad term (“test”) as your subject. Something like “Requesting an Appointment During Thursdays Office Hours” would work well.

  • Greet your professor with a professional salutation, and the correct honorific and last name

Use a professional salutation such as “Dear,” or “Hello,” followed by an honorific and your professor’s last name. An honorific is a title used to communicate respect for a person’s position. In this instance, “Professor” is your safest bet. If you know that your professor holds a PhD, “Dr.” is also appropriate. Next, refer to your syllabus for the correct spelling of your professor’s name. The resulting greeting will be something like “Dear Professor Johnson [,].”

  • Identify yourself

State the name, section, and meeting time of the class. You don’t need to include your name in the body of your email, as you will include it in your signature. Something like “I’m in section 3 of your Foundations of Western Civilization Class, which meets at 2:00pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”

  • Clearly state your question or need

Always refer to your syllabus, review your class notes, and reach out to a classmate first to make sure that your professor hasn’t already given the answer to your question. If you still need clarification, state your question clearly and directly in your email. So, instead of asking, “What’s our homework for tonight?” you’ll write, “I looked through the syllabus and asked a classmate for this weekend’s assigned homework, but unfortunately I am unable to locate it. Could you please direct me to the assignment?”

  • Proofread!

Just as you would with a written homework assignment, make sure to check for silly mistakes and correct spelling and grammar.

  • Say thank you

End your email by thanking your professor for their time and signing off with your full name.

Remember, the ability to compose a well-written email in which you present yourself respectfully is a valuable skill that you will be able to draw upon well beyond your college years, so approach corresponding with your professors as yet another collegiate learning experience!

Adapted from:

Health Insurance for College Students: What You Need to Know

We all know that health insurance can save you thousands of dollars in medical costs if you get sick or hurt, but it’s also important to understand that under the Affordable Care Act, you or your parents will have to pay a penalty fee if you fail to obtain qualifying health coverage. So while it’s clear that health coverage is crucial for everyone, a variety of individual factors determine what the best option for you may be. Have you explored all of the insurance options available to you as a college student? Keep reading to find out what you need to do to get covered and stay covered according to your needs.

First, find out if your school has a health insurance requirement!

Most schools require that all students provide proof of health insurance for each semester or academic year. Often, if your school does have a health insurance requirement and you fail to prove that you already have health insurance, you will automatically be enrolled in your school’s health plan. Therefore, it’s very important to be aware of the proof of insurance deadline so that you don’t get stuck paying for two plans at once! In addition to showing proof of insurance, schools typically have a waiver form you need to fill out so you won’t be billed for the school’s health plan.

Once you know your school’s policy regarding health coverage, you can consider staying on your parents’ health insurance plan (if applicable), applying for Medicaid, or purchasing a plan through your school or the health insurance marketplace:

Option 1. Get or continue coverage under your parents’ health insurance plan.

If your parents have a health plan that covers dependents, you can stay on it until you turn 26. Simple enough! However, if you go to an out-of-state school, make sure that your parents’ plan provides full coverage outside of your state. If it doesn’t, you might want to explore other coverage options.

Option 2. Apply for Medicaid.

If you qualify for Medicaid and the state you are going to school in expanded Medicaid (Pennsylvania did!), it is a smart bet for students. Medicaid is free or low-cost, making it the most affordable option for college students and other low-income folks. Also, unlike the plans available through your school and the marketplace, you can enroll in Medicaid 365 days a year. Just keep in mind that if anyone claims you as a dependent on their taxes, your eligibility will be determined based on their income, not yours.

Option 3. Enroll in your school’s student health plan.

If your school offers a comprehensive student health plan, it may be a very good option for you. Typically, student health plans will charge you either per semester or per academic year. Check with your school to learn about their enrollment deadlines. Just make sure to compare the cost and quality of coverage to Medicaid and marketplace plans to make sure you’re getting the best deal!

Option 4. Purchase a plan through the health insurance marketplace.

Anyone claiming between 100% – 250% of the Federal Poverty Level will qualify for some amount of cost assistance for a marketplace plan. As with Medicaid, if someone claims you as a tax dependent, you won’t qualify for savings based on your income. Additionally, because marketplace cost assistance is actually a tax credit, you MUST file taxes for the year you claim the credit. Unless you qualify for special enrollment, you must apply for marketplace insurance during the open enrollment period. Open enrollment for 2017 will begin on November 1, 2016, and will end on January 31, 2017.

If you need help navigating the health insurance application process, don’t hesitate to reach out to your OCRS advisor! We’re here to help, as always.

Adapted from:


Getting Involved on Campus

As a Philadelphia Futures collegian, you probably remember what an important role that extracurricular involvement played in being a successful high school student. However, getting involved in activities outside of class is tremendously important for college students as well! Student organizations and clubs provide great opportunities to build your resume, gain leadership experience, and network with peers who share your interests and career goals. See below for a few of the different types of organizations that may be available on your campus. Which do you think would be the best fit for you?

  1. Clubs

Most colleges and universities have numerous student-run campus clubs. These typically include interest-based groups (from cooking to comics), activity-based groups (like hiking or dancing), or cultural/ethnic and identity-based groups (such as an Asian-American student association or LGBTQ interest group). Options range from running a weekly meeting to setting up a booth at a student fair to staging peaceful protests on campus. Not interested in any existing student clubs? Look into starting your own!

  1. Student Government

Not only can joining student government help you meet more people and get involved with important campus matters, it’s great for your resume. You’ll gain leadership skills, make connections with a diverse body of students and demonstrate that you participated in a central decision-making activity.

  1. Intramural Sports

Even if you’re not a varsity-level athlete, many schools have lots of team sports opportunities for all students. These activities do not involve regular practices, just opportunities to have fun playing a game you love! Look for a variety of games, such as ultimate Frisbee, archery, hockey, bowling or flag football, or join a regular student pick-up game. This is a great way to meet others with similar interests in addition to getting some exercise. Stop by your school’s athletic center or gym to learn more about intramural opportunities.

  1. Sororities or Fraternities

Many large colleges and universities offer ‘Greek life,’ or sororities and fraternities. Joining a sorority or fraternity can provide you with immediate access to some of the busiest and most influential social networks on campus. Getting into these organizations can be competitive, but they provide a lifelong network of social support and professional connections. Many Greek organizations also encourage members to get involved in volunteering, philanthropy and a variety of campus-based activities, which are all great additions to that developing resume! (NOTE: Philadelphia Futures discourages first year students from “pledging.” Talk to your OCRS advisor before you make this big commitment.)

  1. Community Service and Volunteering

Community service and volunteering can really help broaden your horizons. Consider looking for campus-based volunteer organizations that can help you give back to your community alongside your peers. Options may range from tutoring local children to helping build homes or cleaning up neighborhood streets. Providing valuable services to others while building your resume: it’s a win-win!

Thinking about getting involved? Start by looking on your school’s website for a directory of the student organizations at your school. You may also want to talk to your professors to see if there is an academic club related to your major. Additionally, most schools host a campus involvement fair at the beginning of each semester. Contact Student Affairs or your Campus Involvement Center to find out the date!

Adapted from:

Tips for Time Management

Welcome back, collegians! We hope that you had a restful winter break and are ready to start the semester with a clean slate and a fresh outlook. The beginning of a semester is a great time to take stock of your wellness wheel: what are some areas you’d like to focus on or adjust? What lessons did you learn last semester that you can apply towards being your best self this semester?

One thing that is true for all of us is that the way we manage our time plays a major role in keeping our personal wellness wheels in balance. After all, it takes time and planning to take care of your academic, financial, emotional, social, and physical wellness. So, for our first Wellness Wednesday of the spring semester, let’s brush up on our time management skills! Follow these three tips to kick your time management habits into high gear:

Step One: Examine How You Are Spending Your Time

Imagine the time that you have in your life as a circle or a pie. There are 168 hours in a week, no more, no less. You divide up that time into your various activities – pieces of different sizes – but the pie is not going to get any bigger. If you add additional activities or spend more time on certain activities, other pieces will need to get smaller or be eliminated. Keep track of how you spend your time for a week, then draw your Pie of Life using the template below to represent how much time you spend on each of the activities in your life (e.g. texting, studying, sleeping, work, family, friends, classes, etc.):




Now, ask yourself:

  1. Are you happy with the amount of time you spend on each activity?
  2. Are there any activities that you feel are not getting a sufficient amount of time? If so, target one or two priority activities to increase on your Pie of Life. Remember, however, that to increase the amount of time spent on those activities, you will need to target other activities to decrease or eliminate.
  3. What are you willing to sacrifice to increase your target activities?

Step Two: Anticipate and Plan

Now that you’ve really evaluated how much time you’ll need to devote to each of your responsibilities, you’ll need to map out your time in advance. Use a calendar, day planner, or an electronic planner to keep track of deadlines, tests, and weekly commitments. Additionally, try using a time management worksheet (like this one) to plan out your week on an hour-by-hour basis. Finally, make a to-do list every day. Making these lists is a memory jogger to remind you of what has to be done, and also allows you to keep track of all you’ve accomplished as you cross things off!

Step Three: Break Tasks Down

Whether you are faced with a big task, such as graduating in 4 years, or smaller tasks such as studying for a final, it helps if you break the task down into smaller, more manageable parts. Students who procrastinate often comment that when they wait to the last minute to complete a project, they feel overwhelmed, and the task seems insurmountable. By setting priorities and breaking the bigger project into smaller tasks, the work is more manageable, and less intimidating.

Here’s how to break tasks down:

  • Look at the big picture; make sure you understand what the end product is supposed to look like.
  • Look at the parts. What pieces will enable you to get to the whole? Figure out step-by step what you need to do.
  • Think about the logical order of completing the pieces. What should you do first, second, third, etc.?
  • Create a timeline for completing your tasks.
  • Have a plan to help you stay on track. Put the time you will spend on the project into your study schedule so that you can set aside the time for it. Stick with this plan. A plan is only good if you see it through.
  • Complete it early enough to have some time left for a final review.

As you strategize for effective time management this semester, remember: procrastination is never the answer! Procrastination can lead to many sleepless nights (literally) and can negatively impact every aspect of your wellness. Learn to plan, and plan well. It’s a skill that will continue to serve you long after graduation!

Adapted from:

Making Good Decisions

Over the past two weeks, there have been two significant news stories about college students acting in a way that is irresponsible and disrespectful.

The first incident, captured on a cell phone video, included fraternity brothers from the University of Oklahoma chanting about lynching and using racial slurs. The second incident, which came to light this week, happened at Penn State University where fraternity brothers were discovered to have posted pictures of naked and near-naked girls, sometimes unconscious, on an anonymous facebook page. These were not one time incidents. That chant has been sung for years. That facebook page, or an earlier version of it, has existed for more than a year. It’s just the first time they got caught.

In the Oklahoma situation, the fraternity chapter has been disbanded and two students have been expelled from the college. At Penn State, the fraternity has been suspended for one year and, according to news reports, several students responsible may be facing criminal charges.

We want to take this opportunity to remind you that you have the responsibility every day to make good choices. You are building a personal and professional brand that is going to follow you into your career. How do you want people to think of you?

College students are faced with choices, large and small, every day:

  • Go to class or sleep in?
  • Go to a professor’s office hours or take a nap?
  • Study or go to a party?
  • Have another drink?
  • Go back to the dorm with a guy/ girl I met tonight?

Both of the incidents listed above appear to have been related to alcohol. Alcohol use is prevalent on most campuses—the National Institute of Health reports that up to 80% of college students drink alcohol and about half of those students admit to binge drinking (drinking more than 4 or 5 drinks in two hours). In many cases, alcohol use and abuse leads to students making risky decisions, especially about sex.

Your safety, success and happiness are important to us. You have goals and we are here to help you reach them!

Please remember that you represent not only yourself, but also your college and Philadelphia Futures. We are proud of our scholars and we expect that you will carry yourselves in a way that shows pride in yourself.

If you have been making poor decisions or engaging in risky behavior, now is the time to make a different choice.

If we can be of any support, please feel free to reach out to your advisor in the Office of College Retention and Success. We are here for you.

Becoming a Student Leader – Part 2

LaShaunta Smith, College Connection Class of 2012, Sophomore at Millersville University – Resident Assistant

LaShaunta BlogWhat initially got you interested in becoming an RA? 

What made me want to become a Resident Assistant was my RA when I was a freshman. She was nice, easy to talk to, and very helpful. I needed a job and couldn’t decide if I wanted to be a Peer Mentor or Resident Assistant. What helped with my decision is that RA’s get paid more but I also liked how they have more interaction with the residents, which is something I enjoy.

How did you work your way up to gain your position of leadership?

At first, I was put in the pool and had to wait for an opening which I didn’t think would happen until next year. Out of all the people that are in the pool, I believed that I would not have gotten chosen because I have never worked an actual job before. To get to this position, first my grades were good, and the activities I am in show that I have no problem with trying new things. I also made sure I make a good first impression.

What are some of the leadership qualities you have gained from your experience?

I have more patience. Overall this has helped me with how I speak to people. Most people may think that they know how they would react to certain situations but you really never know until it happens. RA’s need patience to deal with a variety of issues including having to deal with other people’s attitudes, dealing with mental and physical issues, and giving advice.

What are the most challenging aspects of being a student leader?  What experiences have been the most rewarding?

The most challenging part of being a leader is knowing that all eyes are on you most of the time. Another difficult aspect of being a leader is having to put work first over friendship. It becomes difficult when you have to do the right thing and lose a friend over it. It makes you aware of who is really in your corner. It took me a while in the beginning of the year to adjust to work, school, social life, and activities I’m in. I have learned the importance of being organized and doing things ahead of time because you never know what will be thrown at you.

How do you see your current experiences in student leadership benefiting you in the future?

Now, I am glad that I have experience and this will hopefully be the gateway to more jobs to come.

Sophia Winchester, College Connection Class of 2011, Junior at Eastern University – Resident Advisor

What initially got you interested in becoming an RA? 

I loved the relationship that I had with my RA and how resourceful my RA was both freshman and sophomore year. I wanted to have that direct impact with the residents in the hall and in the building.

How did you work your way up to gain your position of leadership?

I joined organizations and clubs on campus. Freshman year, I was a member of the Multicultural Organization and my dormitory’s Hall Council. I also started an Autism Awareness fundraiser. Sophomore year I was appointed the President of Hall Council and invited to hold a leadership position in the university college success program designed to help student who live on the autism spectrum.  During the second semester of my sophomore year I applied to be an RA and was hired for the job. The skills I learned from joining clubs and getting involved on campus helped prepare me for this position of leadership.

What are some of the leadership qualities you have gained from your experience?
I’ve become more open-minded and a better communicator and listener. You must be willing to work to understand the needs and desires of others. A good leader asks many questions, considers all options, and leads in the right direction.  I’ve learned about the importance of being respectful: treating others with respect will ultimately earn respect.

And definitely, you have to lead by example.

How do you see your current experiences in student leadership benefiting you in the future?

In addition to being an RA, I am also a student ambassador and run an autism campaign on campus. All of the skills that I mentioned in the previous questions I know will be beneficial as a future nurse.

Nzinga Lloyd, SAS Class of 2011, Junior at Millersville University – Peer Educator

What initially interested you in becoming a Peer Educator? Nzinga for blog

The very first event that I attended by the Peer Educators was about misogyny in society and how it affects the way that women think about themselves. Because I personally had problems with body image, that event taught me a lot about how much I should appreciate myself. After seeing that presentation, I decided to present the topic of misogyny to a group of females called Millersville Concerned Women (MCW). I am very well associated with the group so they agreed to let me present it to them. It was after that presentation that I decided this was what I wanted to do. Educating my peers, much like the ladies in MCW, gave me a sense of accomplishment because I felt and saw that I was doing something great. I was helping positively impact the lives of others by giving them knowledge. Shortly after that, I applied to be a Peer Educator, got the job, and for the past two years I have been educating the student body on various topics.

How did you work your way up to gain your position of leadership?

As a Peer Educator, you have to really care about what you do so that you can make others care. Aside from that, you have to communicate with faculty that are in charge of and work with the Student Affairs Department so that they can see that passion that you have for helping others. If the passion is there, communication must follow.

What are some of the leadership qualities you have gained from your experience?

I think two of the greatest qualities I gained from being a Peer Educator were learning to speak up, and being myself in everything I do. In the meetings I have with the rest of the staff, I have to say any ideas that I have at the time or they will never be heard. In order to be heard, speaking clearly is key.

Learning to be myself in all situations has helped me find myself and gave others a chance to see who I was. For example, during alcohol awareness week, one of my co-workers specifically asked me to work an outreach table for her because she loved the enthusiasm I’ve shown in past outreach projects. That “enthusiastic” person she saw was just me being myself.

What are the most challenging aspects of being a student leader?  What experiences have been the most rewarding?

The most challenging aspect of being a student leader is trying to find time to perfect projects. My classes and my job sometimes clash because I love doing both, and I really want to make sure everything is perfect. But in most cases where work and class clash, I have to put my academic life first because I can’t lead without knowledge.

Being able to help people in any small or large way is rewarding to me. When giving people information on mental health, body image, sexual harassment and alcohol use, I get this rush because I know I’m doing something great by speaking about things that most people won’t even question or bring up in daily conversations.

Becoming a Student Leader – Part 1

Becoming a student leader is a challenging and rewarding way to explore your personal and academic interests. By playing a key role in an organization, working as a Peer Educator, or serving as a Resident Advisor, you can develop new, highly marketable skills that will benefit you inside and outside the classroom.

Employers look at student leadership as a strong indicator of whether a prospective employee possesses the following highly-valued qualities:

Time-management skills
Strong communication skills
Interpersonal skills
The ability to motivate others
Strong work ethic
Proactive outlook/resourcefulness in the face of challenges
The ability to delegate responsibilities
Working in a diverse environment
Networking skills
Critical thinking and problem solving skills

Are you interested in playing a role of leadership on campus, or are you on your way to becoming a club president or a Resident Advisor?  Check out these interviews with Philadelphia Futures collegians on how they became student leaders and what they have learned from their experiences.

Noldyanie Anglade, SAS Class of 2009, Senior at Millersville University – Chapter President of NAACP

Noldyanie for blog

What initially interested you in working with Millersville’s NAACP Chapter? 

Initially, I was interested in working with Millersville University NAACP College Chapter and becoming a member of their team because of the positive influence they had on campus and in the community. NAACP College Chapter dedicates their time to the community by participating in can food drives, clothing drives, and fundraisers. Most of the proceeds earned are devoted to several nonprofit organizations and not for the actual organization. In addition, the NAACP College Chapter promotes awareness in the community about situations that relate to the culture of African-Americans. They present lectures with influential leaders as speakers such as Ruby Bridges, Rev. Al Sharpton, and Jessie Jackson. They even keep it fun and positive, with speakers like hip-hop artists such as MC Lyte and Common.

How did you work your way up to gain your position of leadership?

When I first became a member of NAACP College Chapter, I was elected as the health chairperson. During my experience as the health chair, I demonstrated leadership by helping out in assignments that were not assigned to me, advocating for the organization at various meetings, such as allocation and advisor meetings. During that time, I became a dependable person for the president and vice president. Lastly, I represented Millersville NAACP College Chapter in an annual leadership conference and participated in a debate in which I helped Millersville win second place.  Overall, I know with these characteristics and positive attitude I worked my way up to gain my position as the president in the organization.

How do you see your current experiences in student leadership benefiting you in the future?

From my experience, I have become very confident and self-motivated, which has allowed me to move forward in other ventures and participate in several areas that involved leadership roles. Furthermore, I have gained the ability to achieve successful results in challenging leadership roles which has been beneficial for me currently with completing my degree from an accredited social work program and will help in the future when working in the field. This experience also helped me better handle myself when responding to a demanding workload in a high pressure environment.

What are some of the leadership qualities you have gained from your experience?

My experience with leadership has helped shape me into the young lady I am today. The qualities I have gained are communicating effectively with others, building confidence within myself, keeping a positive attitude, developing patience and discipline and most importantly, gaining the ability to accept criticism.

Jesus Cruz, SAS Class of 2011, Junior at Kutztown University – Vice President of Black Flame Dance TeamJesus-1-page-0

What initially interested you in joining the Black Flame Dance Team?

I initially did not want to join The Black Flame Dance Team. I wanted to join The Lenheart Dance Company that Kutztown University had on campus, but the year I was going to attend Kutztown University it was getting cut due to budget cuts.  Therefore, I had to go do research and find out what other dance teams KU had and there were a multitude of other dance teams. After attending different informational sharing sessions, I narrowed my choices and finally came to conclusion that the Black Flame Dance Team was the one I was going to audition for.  I made the team and I was happy with my decision because I love to dance and the team is really a lot of fun.

How did you work your way up to gain your position of leadership?

I worked my way to gain the position of the Vice President of the Black Flame Dance Team by showing my passion for dance, hard-work, and spirit. My passion for dance is serious and the team knew that I wouldn’t settle for less. I encouraged and inspired my team members to do their best and dance like no one is watching, basically give it their all. My hard-work and dedication for the team was noticeable and the team knew I would lead them to the best direction as dancers and students. Also my spirit– the team loves to be around me. My happiness rubs off on them. I can always put a smile on someone’s face and uplift their spirits whenever they are feeling in the dumps.

What are some of the leadership qualities you have gained from your experience?

COMMUNICATION IS KEY! Without good communication a team can crumble. I say that because I have experienced that even though a person may be given a certain position, they don’t always take their responsibilities and duties seriously. Also being able to deal with a variety of personalities, especially with dancers because a lot of egos are huge, everyone can get a bit feisty and I, being the nice person I am, learned how to approach people correctly with authority and demand. Lastly, I gained a business perspective due to the fact that we have to attend certain meetings with organizations and groups and be informed about the different events that happening on campus and figure out what the team would like as a whole.

How do you see your current experiences in student leadership benefiting you in the future?

I see these current experiences as a student leader benefiting me well because I am currently working on a project with one of my fellow peers at KU who is a dance member on teaching classes in Philadelphia during the summer and eventually taking it to the next level and starting our Dance Company called “Rize”. The experience I am gaining now has shown me how to network. I have met a branding consultant who works in the entertainment industry and built a bond. I now call him my mentor because he started his own business and is giving me advice and pointers on how I should go about this future endeavor. Overall, expanding my studies and dance life at KU has opened my eyes in so many ways and has given me the motivation to keep on succeeding.