Student leaders help build the future

At Texas A&M at Galveston, when student leaders offer advice, the campus community listens.

Input and bright ideas from students have actually changed the face of the campus,” said Shelly Fordyce, assistant director of Student Activities. She points to one student leadership organization as an example.

“Since 2006, we’ve conducted Leadership Guadalupe,” she said. “Freshmen and some upper classmen volunteer for hands-on leadership training that result in tangible outcomes.”

Fordyce says participants are the “cream of the crop” and are being groomed to lead the next generation in future successful endeavors.

Reflecting corporate-style professional planning, Leadership Guadalupe is a student leadership retreat for an elite group of freshmen student leaders who are nominated for the program by the student organizations with which they participate. Three upper classmen leaders are selected from a pool of volunteers. Students from more than 50 student organizations have opportunities to participate in the program, but only nine are chosen.

During a weekend retreat, while receiving support from Student Affairs, participants are given analytical tools such as personality assessments to improve teamwork and a problem-solving matrix to help discover all angles of a possible solution.

Fordyce says as student leaders experience the Leadership Guadalupe process, they become aware of their own leadership styles, and they solve problems as a team.

Sarah Bowman, a member of the Corps of Cadets and a freshman majoring in Marine Transportation, says the program has a real impact on student leaders and the entire campus community.

“In 2010, the problem was overcrowded residence halls,” Bowman said. Leadership Guadalupe developed a plan for new dorms and presented that plan to Student Affairs. These ideas were used to develop two new student-friendly residence halls—the Atlantic and Pacific—a year later.”

A new quest

This year’s Guadalupe challenge is to provide input about building a new student center. Through constant growth over the past ten years, many of the students recreational space has been converted to provide space for offices, classrooms or other critical space.  In fact, the current student center which formerly housed the bookstore, a large game room, lounge area, and barber shop, now basically holds the dining center and a small lounge area.  Campus administrators are aware of this and are looking to make a change, and now, the Guadalupe student leaders have a say in the matter.

They unveiled three presentations designed to offer new student center floor plans for consideration. All plans include spaces for a bookstore, student organization offices, a ballroom and food courts.

Bowman rolled out a plan for her team that included a large first-floor entry way with a grand stair case accompanied by a waterfall and fish pond.

“Visitors to our campus would be impressed with this entry,” she said. “We’d have an information desk to direct people to different places on campus. The dive club would take care of the fish.”

Healthy environments

Toni Nickel, who is a freshman majoring in Maritime Studies pointed out the ecological and health features of her team’s plan.

“While we’ll have a ballroom, bookstore and easy access to food, we’ll also provide a porch so students who are indoors all the time, can study outdoors and catch some rays.”

Team mate, Courtney Salisbury, offered an overview of a proposed rooftop greenhouse with adjacent solar panels to capture energy.

Built to withstand storms

Samuel Crenshaw, a member of the Corps of Cadets who is a freshman majoring in Marine Engineering Technology, says his group plans a durable building that can withstand hurricanes.

“We’ve also provided access to what we call the fish area, where students can pick up a gallon of milk without having to drive to Galveston,” he said.

Crenshaw also pointed to features such as a theater for entertainment as well as a porch designed to protect students from mosquitoes.

He said his team wanted to make sure that “we’re protected from our unofficial mascot, the mosquito.”

All Leadership Guadalupe team members agreed that they want a student center which portrays their Aggie Spirit, depicts an energetic student population and points to the traditions of the Aggie network.

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