Andrew and Chineme Reflect on LeaderShape

Session 2 of the LeaderShape Institute in Illinois

In May and July, respectively, Chineme Obiefune (Q25) and Andrew Jones (Q26) had the opportunity to attend the LeaderShape Institute. Both students were nominated and sponsored to attend by the Smith School of Business (Chineme) and the QUEST Honors Program (Andrew). Andrew was selected by the QUEST faculty and staff for his leadership potential as editor of QUESTPress.

The LeaderShape Institutes are 6 days in length, each day filled with engaging lectures and activities to stimulate conversation and dialogue amongst more than 70 participants and 10 mentors in attendance. The demographics of the participants vary, with people coming from all parts of the United States and the world. Similar to the two of us, all of the participants came in as either current or rising student leaders within their campuses, whether it was as Presidents of their Fraternities/Sororities or their respective Student Government Associations or members of the QUESTPress team, like us. The connections and friendships that were established at the institute are sure to last a lifetime.

“When I accepted my invitation to attend a national LeaderShape conference, I had no idea what I was getting into,” Chineme says. “I thought it would be a regular week in Boston, but I couldn’t have imagined the impact it would have on the way I view myself and those around me.” Once arriving at the Institute, none of the participants had any clue what we were getting ourselves into for the week. “When I first arrived at the Institute, I felt fairly anxious, knowing that I was the only one from UMD at the Institute,” Andrew says. “However, after sitting with different people at meals and talking with others during the breaks, I came across some of the most enthusiastic and engaged people I have ever met.”

Throughout the experience, all of the participants engaged in dialogue and conversation regarding current social, economic, and environmental issues, to name a few. In addition, guest speakers, lectures, and group activities with our “family clusters” helped facilitate the lessons and takeaways of the LeaderShape curriculum.

“On one of the nights, we had Christine Ortiz, previously Dean of Graduate Studies at MIT, talk at LeaderShape” Andrew recalls. “She told us about her very recent venture in starting a new university, one that will totally transform the standard curriculum of STEM programs at many universities around the nation. She has a vision to create a college that will not have degrees, but instead heavily emphasize working on projects and research for both undergraduate and graduate students. She inspired me to always stay true to my vision and what I want to see happen in our society.”

“My time at LeaderShape taught me that life is about creating ripples” says Chineme. “I met people with stories that shocked me to my core. People who had been through hardship that I couldn’t imagine, yet still found the energy to make a difference in anyway possible. Now I look back on that week and feel nothing but gratitude towards all of the people that shared their stories with me and listened to mine.”

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