At the beginning of this year, 23 students were chosen to be a part of the Brenda White Wright Emerging Leaders Academy.

This eight-week leadership development program, which is also referred to as the ELA, includes weekly meetings that focus on leadership style, communication, conflict management and time management.

This gives young, aspiring students multiple skill sets to lead in organizations all across campus, as well as providing possible networks.

“Ultimately, we learn how to be servant leaders,” said current ELA member Amber Howard. “Such skills include listening, time management and problem solving.”

This past Monday night, Katie Baker talked to the group about time management and making schedules.

“It was great for all of us because we all have so much stuff on our plates: school, work, clubs, family, religion, etc,” Howard said. “Sometimes relaxation is key. Dr. Brenda Wright-white led us in a Tai Chi warm up to help de-stress.”

According to Howard, this program is beneficial to so many people because of the many different organizations and majors represented in the group.ELA2016

“I am an art major, and there are others who range from exercise science, psychology, public relations and several pre-meds,” Howard said. “There are several people involved with resident life, fraternities and clubs such as Oasis, Volunteer ETSU, Black Affairs and MAPS. To put it simply, not only do we learn how to be leaders and deal with other leaders, we make connections with students as well as faculty in order to improve upon ourselves and our campus.”

ELA member Kelsey Long said the group is beneficial even to those who aren’t in the program.

“This program is training students to develop positive and lifelong leadership skills that they can use to serve and make a difference in the lives of the students of ETSU and the surrounding community as well,” Long said. “Thus far, there have been multiple speakers who have come to the weekly meetings and spoke.”

Like many organizations and groups on and around campus, you create bonds and friendships while spending so much time together.

“We are a family,” Howard said. “We often hang out or study outside of class or grab a bite to eat. We are surrounded by others like us, others who want to succeed and who want to see each other succeed. Apart from the lessons, which are all important, the connections we have made and continue to make will stay with us throughout college as we all become leaders of our various organizations.”

According to Howard, being a part of ELA can lead to big personal development as a leader, but also as a person.

Each class goes on an “Advance” retreat where they stay two nights in the Appalachian Christian Camp in Unicoi County.

“We call it an Advance because we ‘move’ forward instead of back,” Howard said. “Everyone got up close and personal because we were forced to, but we formed bonds by sharing personal stories and actively listening to one another. In a lot of ways, ELA isn’t even about becoming a president or CEO or anything: it’s learning how to be servant leader, about giving back.”

According to Long, White-Wright always expresses the importance of doing for someone else what has been done for you, not for recognition, but for the value that it brings to the lives of others.

“Additionally, she emphasizes the importance of learning to listen and listening to learn,” Long said. “I can apply the information that I have learned in the future by learning how to become a positive, efficient servant leader who always does for others, even if there are certain sacrifices that I have to make to create an advantageous difference in others’ lives.”

ELA is free, and students are encouraged to sign up. For those interested in becoming a member, applications will be accepted in the fall for next year’s class.