Leadership UMiami 2020 program underway

Leadership UMiami participants have the opportunity to uncover their own civic identities and roles in the democratic process as they explore concepts related to democracy and social change.

By Ashley A. Williams

Leadership UMiami participants have the opportunity to uncover their own civic identities and roles in the democratic process as they explore concepts related to democracy and social change.

Leadership UMiami 2020 program underway

By Ashley A. Williams
The Butler Center for Service and Leadership welcomed its newest cohort for Leadership UMiami—a co-curricular, intensive leadership immersion program.

Shruti Mishra, a senior political science and Spanish major, realized her passion for social justice issues when she started a student organization in high school called Femme Equality. When she learned about the Leadership UMiami program, it didn’t take long for her to submit her application. 

Mishra is one of 24 students recently selected by the University of Miami's Butler Center for Service and Leadership to participate in the third year of the cohort style, co-curricular, intensive leadership immersion program, which gives students at the sophomore, junior, and senior-level the opportunity to uncover their own civic identities and roles in the democratic process as they explore concepts related to democracy and social change.

“I am used to having discussions about social justice issues, but they weren’t always as structured as they will be in this program,” said Mishra. “Everyone will be taking their time to analyze things. Instead of giving broad responses about issues we can talk about our personal experiences. I am looking forward to having structured discussions about topics that matter with people who are from a diverse background.” 

Over the course of the fall semester and during a week in January, Leadership UMiami participants will engage in dialogues, professional development activities, and community visits. To understand how to fully create positive social change, students and program advisors will travel to Washington, D.C. for a four-day experience at the end of the program, to learn more about the topics that personally matter to them directly from policy and change-makers.

“I’ve witnessed Leadership UMiami students excel and embody Student Affairs’ vision to develop and challenge all students to become engaged citizens in a diverse and global society,” said Patricia. A. Whitely, vice president for student affairs. “Students who complete the program are some of the top students at the University who will continue to make a notable impact in their communities throughout their lives.”

Leadership UMiami 2020

 

At their first session, the students were divided into four smaller groups, and will be tasked with developing action plans focusing on topics that directly affect members of the University community. From social classism to foreign relations, to gentrification and civil rights issues, students will expound on their topic throughout the program to gain an understanding of self and community that will enhance their career and life goals. 

Sophomore Landon Coles applied to the program with the expectation to be challenged in his dispositions with factual and relevant debates.

“I fully expect to be made uncomfortable, and I say that because being uncomfortable is where you grow the most,” said Coles, a legal studies major. “I am expecting to learn new things and I look forward to the end result which is to be wiser and stronger than when I came through the door.”

Andrew Wiemer, director of the Butler Center for Service and Leadership, said the program is meant to give Coles, Mishra, and their peers a unique way of utilizing their own personal identities and interests to gain a greater understanding of social issues in our communities.

“I’m proud of the cutting edge work we are providing for our students to engage in democracy and helping them develop into active citizens. We look forward to creating a brave space for participants in the program and give them room to be vulnerable so that they can take the knowledge they learn and get involved on a larger level,” said Wiemer. “Students who have completed this program have gone on to pursue further education along with careers in nonprofit organizations, social work, and government agencies.”

This is the first installment in a four-part series following Leadership UMiami's 2020 cohort.