UCCSlead event builds on military-affiliated students’ experience

     UCCSlead has partnered with the Veterans and Military Affairs office to offer a free leadership development course tailored to the experience of military-affiliated students. 

     The course will be hosted virtually and in person on Feb. 19 and March 5 and will expand on the leadership training military-affiliated students received while in service. UCCSlead and the VMA office designed these events to further students’ careers, supplement scholarship applications and provide a certificate and graduation cord for completion of the program. 

     While military service incorporates leadership training, the focus of military training is different from what the civilian sector requires. This event adds to military students’ current leadership skills by focusing on introspective leadership development and establishing a goal for leadership potential. 

     Sloan Gonzales is the program director at UCCSlead. She described UCCSleadas the “only true program on campus where you don’t have to apply for it.”  

     “You don’t have to have a specific major or qualification to do this program. It’s fully funded by the university to make sure that a student can have access to leadership [training],” she said. 

     UCCSlead realized they were missing a large population of students and saw a need for a specific event for military-affiliated students. “I felt we needed to do this in a really intentional way … to create something that truly honored their experience,” Gonzales said. 

     She said that creating an event specifically for military-affiliated students would bring this population together, where everyone involved would have a similar shared experience and feel comfortable relating to one another about those experiences. 

he McCord-Herbst Student Veteran Center is located in the Gateway Hall and is open on weekdays. Photo by Lillian Davis.

     Gonzales said UCCSleaddecided to partner with the VMA office to help build an experience that would “honor that training, and that learning … [that would] build to it and add a new narrative to [leadership].”  

     She feels that this training will address the differences in leadership between military and civilian sectors, which will help with the transition into civilian life. 

     Mike Hamilton is the student engagement and programs coordinator for the VMA office and a veteran of the Iraq war. He described the struggles he faced when he transitioned from active duty into a leadership position in the civilian sector. 

     Hamilton said, “I was managing a casino business in New Hampshire after [the Marines]. I thought I knew it all. And I just ended up making everybody mad and getting frustrated about my leadership skills [that] were in a style that was probably too assertive. 

     “It was a very humbling experience because I didn’t have the support in the civilian side that I did in the Marine side. In the Marines, I felt very comfortable with my leadership, and [after] getting out, I realized that it’s a different type of leadership. And there’s different skills that I didn’t have, that I needed to work on,” he said. 

     The interactive virtual event will run concurrently with the in-person event and features workshops to help participants understand their current leadership skills and establish a plan of action to become student leaders. 

     The event staff — including Gonzales, coordinator Cody Parish and student program assistant Emily Aragon — has years of experience learning about and teaching leadership.   

     Gonzales has a master’s degree in communication and leadership and is an instructor in the leadership track in the communication department. In addition, she has over a decade of experience in leadership development training. 

     Gonzales’ focus and research are on leadership identity and how various identity groups correlate with leadership styles. 

     Parish has a master’s degree in English. He has taught for the last six years, two of those years teaching honors leadership at his previous institution. 

     Aragon is a Chancellor’s Leadership class scholar with four years of leadership development training. After attending a past event, Gonzales said that Aragon was inspired to join the UCCSleadprogram. She now leads large group facilitation. 

     As an incentive to register early, UCCSleadoffers a free coffee tumbler to the first 50 students that register for either event. Students can register by following this link.