by Sarah Willson
In a campus-wide effort to help students promote and develop essential leadership skills for life after college, one organization has taken on the initiative to create weekly workshops regarding leadership growth and positions both on and off campus.
The Central Leadership Experiences Aimed at Developing Students officially started hosting activities that are open to all students and faculty at CCSU as of two weeks ago.
The series of workshops “will encourage students to develop a better sense of self and focus on making the most of their college experience, learn more about CCSU and feel part of a larger community, and become a more aware member of society,” according to the L.E.A.D.S’ website.
The semester-long program kicked off its second workshop last week, hosting a “Flipping Your Message” event.
The 45-minute-long presentation consisted of students and one university professor aiming to help students learn how to approach real-world issues that they believe most people will eventually face.
“We really want to teach students how to approach these difficult conversations we all have had at some point in our lives as student leaders,” student leader and presenter Estefania Maya said. “We want students to know the different approaches they can take when having these conversations.”
CCSU professor Dr. Connie Yan of Management Information Systems opened the session, sharing that, while it is always important to learn how to approach difficult conversations, she has not always been the best at doing so.
Yan spoke of how every year, twice a year at her former job, she used to receive a popcorn bouquet from her “favorite client.” However, one year, she discovered that the young woman who ran the mail office, who she now refers to as “mail chick,” ate her popcorn-filled present.
As a result of this, Yan, who was so looking forward to eating her popcorn bouquet, threatened to call the police on “mail chick,” as she believed that opening someone’s mail at her company was ultimately against the law. Long story short, Yan soon discovered that, in fact, anyone could open anyone’s mail due to “time sensitive” issues in the office.
Still, Yan acknowledged that she was out-of-line in terms of threatening to call the police on the young woman who ate her popcorn, as she said it ultimately caused both her and “mail chick” unwanted stress.
Now, Yan tells what she now considers a “comical” story to students and student leaders in hopes that they can learn how to better handle awkward situations such as the one she had faced.
“I know that being a leader is difficult sometimes because you can often be faced with a lot of challenging tasks,” Yan said. “What makes you a leader though is how you react and recover from these situations [such as the popcorn one].”
One of the best ways to do this, Yan said, is by “not letting the situation fester.” In other words, do not let it drag out because it is important to address it right away.
“You want to have a good grasp of what is actually happening in the situation,” Yan said. “I wouldn’t let the problem drag out because then it just makes it worse for both parties.”
Angela Duffy, a junior at CCSU, acknowledged that programs, such as this one put on by L.E.A.D.S., ultimately help her become not only a better student, but also a better person, as she said she now understands how to approach difficult conversations and confrontations.
“I now know better ways to diffuse [awkward] situations,” Duffy said. “I love this because it teaches you how to deal with people during an argument. I like that she [Professor Yan] gave a real-world scenario.”
CCSU L.E.A.D.S. claimed that they will continue to take part in these weekly workshops throughout the rest of this semester, believing that they will ultimately benefit students and help them “grow and develop” in the long-run. For now, L.E.A.D.S. said they hope that students will be able to take away some of the lessons Yan shared.
“I really want our [CCSU students] to be able to go into the workforce knowing how to handle difficult situations,” Maya said. “We’re all going to have these [difficult situations] at one point or time during our life.”