Student Leadership

Shenandoah Students Take Leadership Challenge

By Kendall Mealy, MPAOctober 30, 2019

Shenandoah University PA students who attended the Leadership Challenge Workshop. Photo: Kendall Mealy/PAEA

Earlier this year, PAEA offered its first Student Leadership Challenge Workshop. One student was so inspired that she chose to share what she had learned with her fellow classmates.

In June, 20 students came to PAEA’s offices in Washington, DC, for two days of leadership development, engagement, and team-building exercises. The workshop was grounded in the award-winning book The Leadership Challenge®, written by bestselling authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, that unpacks the five leadership practices of Model the Way, Challenge the Process, Inspire a Shared Vision, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart.

Shenandoah University PA students participate in an interactive part of the workshop. Photo: Kendall Mealy/PAEA
Shenandoah University PA students participate in an interactive part of the workshop. Photo: Kendall Mealy/PAEA

One of the attendees, Shenandoah University’s Abby Sekulich, was inspired to bring the Leadership Challenge material back to her program to unite the Shenandoah PA Student Society Officers (SUPASS) from the 2020 and 2021 class. Not only was she interested in capitalizing on the synergy of SUPASS, but Abby also wanted to equip students with tools to reduce burnout through formal leadership training. 

Sekulich applied for the NCCPA Health Foundation’s Be the Change Grant and was funded to cover the materials for the Leadership Challenge Workshop. She lobbied her fellow officers to set aside their studies one Saturday to invest in self-development. Twenty-five students attended for a full day of interactive activities, self-reflective exercises, and an experience that stretched and challenged them as leaders.

I was honored to be invited to facilitate the workshop at Shenandoah. Several of Sekulich’s classmates who had attended PAEA’s event in June were also there and played a key role as champions, helping to demonstrate a high level of vulnerability necessary to maximize the experience.

Abby’s vision for this event is exactly what this is all about. She wanted to make a difference, and in doing so, set a precedent for the Shenandoah program and a model for other programs. Although they are classmates, the students connected on a completely different level; they were encouraging, eager, and open.

PAEA plans to offer more student leadership opportunities in the future. So stay tuned!

Kendall Mealy, MPA

Kendall is PAEA's senior director of leadership and organizational development.