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Midland Students Learn What it Takes to be a Leader


Several Midland University students learned what it takes to be a leader, both mentally and physically, during the inaugural Warrior Leadership Academy Sunday and Monday.

Through a partnership with the U.S. Marine Corps, 25 Midland students involved in athletics or performing arts worked together, intending to become stronger leaders for both their teams and the Midland community.

“We went to the coaches and performing arts staff and asked them to nominate students they viewed as potential leaders,” Sidney Hirsch, Director of Student Development, Warriors Skills, said. “We want to give students the opportunity to improve and gain leadership skills.”

Under the guidance of 15 representatives from the U.S. Marine Corps, Midland students spent two days participating in various physical activities and team exercises. “The Marines had them doing specific physical activities that encouraged them to work together,” Dr. Lawrence Chatters, Outgoing Vice President for Student Affairs, said. “Putting students through this will help them learn the strengths of their peers and increase that desire to support them. We are excited the Marines were willing to help and that we had students willing to go through this.”

The event kicked off Sunday afternoon with a two-hour physical activity, followed by discussion groups in the evening. An early start on Monday featured a three-mile hike through the Fremont State Lake Recreation Area at 5 a.m. “There were discussions following these activities where they talked about what got them through these activities and how they can exhibit different aspects of leadership,” Hirsch said. “We hope to see these students take the leadership skills they’ve learned back to their teams.”

Activities centered around groups working together to accomplish a goal. One exercise had groups putting up a tent, but they weren’t allowed to communicate verbally and had to use their non-dominant hand. “That activity was a little frustrating, but once we got a system down and started working together, it got easier,” said Midland sophomore Kayla Colacion, a member of the women’s lacrosse team. “It was all about finding common ground and finding out how different people work. We didn’t want to stress each other out but motivate each other to keep going.”

Chatters said the goal of the Warriors Leadership Academy is to work toward building one cohesive unit on campus. “During COVID-19, it was difficult to have teams working together because everyone had to remain in their own bubble,” he said. “Now, we’re asking them to mix in, see each other’s struggles, and be beacons of light within the university population. These are budding leaders, and we want to give them the right tools to be leaders not only on their teams but across campus.”

For Colacion, being a leader means a willingness to listen and support other teammates or classmates. “Everyone goes through hard times, whether it’s in life, sports, or school,” she said. “It’s important to let those people know that you are there for them and willing to help, or give advice, or just listen.”

She’s grateful the academy taught her more about the skills required to become a successful leader. “I think people were a little nervous when they saw the Marines were leading it, but they weren’t there to hurt us; they were there to show everyone how they can bring out their leadership skills,” Colacion said. “It’s during those toughest times when you shine. It was great to meet people from other sports and realize we are all here for the same goal.”

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