January 20, 2014
illustration of school of fish following one in the lead

Altitude Workshops at FRCC: Students Learning to Lead

I attended Front Range for five semesters before I took advantage of the leadership opportunities available on campus. As I’m graduating, I’m beginning to regret the amount of time it took me to become involved as a campus leader. However, I picked a good semester to start. The new Altitude leadership program provided me many occasions to improve my leadership skills and gain some new ones.

Personal into Professional Development

It should be obvious that leadership workshops focus on being a leader, but the Altitude program takes it a step further. The coordinator of Altitude, Dan Balski, understands that being an effective leader starts on a personal level. For that reason, a lot of the lessons gained from the workshops focused on private reflection and improvement. By helping me focus on my own leadership strengths and weaknesses, I was better able to recognize and handle the pressures of being a student leader inside and outside of the classroom. That awareness will be essential in my professional development.

My Behavior and Attitude Matter

Bobby Kunstman from Colorado State University presented the first workshop of the semester. It set a fun and informative tone for the rest of the workshops. I learned that my behavior and attitude will make the biggest impacts on whether people trust me and perceive me as a good leader. It also introduced me to some useful management skills meant to encourage others to be confident in their own skills.

From Awareness to Action: Leaders as Change Agents

Colleen Toomey and Hannah Brown facilitated this poignant and inspirational workshop that concentrated on exploring identity and increasing inclusivity from leaders. Colleen and Hannah are both very aware there is an incredible amount of diversity at FRCC, so they have worked tirelessly to support a climate of acceptance and respect among students. That’s exactly what the workshop did for me; sometimes we forget as students that there are people from all walks of life surrounding us so it’s important to be aware of how we treat everyone. As a leader, I gained a new perspective of what inclusivity can mean to my peers and how to navigate diversity in a smart and caring way.

The Happy Leader

Dan Balski created this workshop to teach us how to improve our outlook on leading and helping others through positive psychology. There are many facets of positive psychology that have helped professionals become more productive and Dan shared some of them with us in a quick and enlightening presentation. My mind was opened up to some amazing revelations about how improving my happiness level can have great impacts on my peers and my own life. I actually borrowed Dan’s copy of The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor to learn more about the subject. I highly recommend reading it.

Take advantage of the the Altitude program.

Since I’m graduating, I won’t be at the school to encourage more people to attend the workshops so I’ll do it here. I learned so much about myself and what it means to be a leader. I had never really considered myself to be a leader until recently and the amazing opportunities that FRCC has given me have taught me how to use my voice and aspirations to make a positive impact on my world. I will take the lessons I’ve gained from the workshops into my bachelor’s program at Metro and into my career as an art historian and journalist.

 

Do you consider yourself a leader? How have you used your leadership to make an impact on the world?

 

About the author:

Carlos Escamilla is a graduate of FRCC who worked as a staff writer for the Front Page newspaper, handled public relations for the FRCC chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society and the Art Club, and helped get the Genders & Sexualities Alliance started on campus. He is transferring to Metropolitan State University of Denver to pursue a double major in Art History and Magazine Journalism.