Elgin High School graduate Lydia Behnk is one of a number of students at the University of Nebraska at Kearney participating in a Leadership, Education and Development Series (Leads) program.
“It’s slogan “Make a difference” is one that is promoted throughout campus and within student organizations,” she told The Elgin Review Saturday.
Behnk believes in being involved
“While I am involved in several student organizations that make me feel like a difference maker, none quite stick out to me the way UNK Leads does. Leads, standing for leadership, education, and development series, was brought to my attention last semester in the Chancellor’s Leadership class I was enrolled in. Coming from a loving and supportive community like Elgin, I knew I wanted to become involved in an organization that would allow me to showcase the value of giving back to the community that Elgin has instilled in me. I joined UNK Leads in the fall semester and have been reaping the benefits since.”
UNK Leads is a self-guided program designed to enhance the leadership qualities and experiences of its members. It focuses on a variety of core competencies, among these include creating change, social responsibility, conflict negotiation, positive attitude, and self-development to name a few.
The main idea behind the organization is growth by involvement—whether it be on campus, in the community, or elsewhere. “Thus far, through the program I have had the opportunity to visit Emerson Elementary and read to elementary students, attend a Kearney Public School Board meeting and observe school district decisions, tour the Central Nebraska Veterans Home and play bingo with its residents, and volunteer at Kearney Catholic for the Kids and Dreams Foundation Basketball game and support children with autism.
“The benefits Leads provides extends far beyond the hands-on leadership experience I am gaining. This organization has allowed me to collaborate with others, hone my interpersonal communication skills, and develop the key qualities found in a leader.
“Through engaging within the community, I feel as if I truly am on the path to becoming a difference maker, and while I do everything within my power to give back to the community, I know it will never compare to all the Kearney community, UNK campus, and my home town have given me,” Behnk said.
The self-guided program promotes effective leadership by focusing on 12 core competencies – collaboration, conflict negotiation, creating change, diversity, ethics, positive attitude, problem-solving, productive relationships, reflection and application, self-development, social responsibility and verbal communication.
Students learn from and network with campus and community leaders while actively participating in various activities and civic events.
The program is open to any UNK student but geared mainly toward freshmen and sophomores. There is no cost.
Participants, who have up to four semesters to complete UNK Leads, receive a letter of recommendation after finishing the program.