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Student leadership training a great asset for 2008-2009 academic year

Friday, August 29, 2008

 

Corban College and Graduate School’s motto “Dedicating Heart and Mind to God” was exemplified by student leaders who prepared to welcome students to campus. Twenty-nine Resident Assistants, eight Associated Student Body Officers, and nine Student Life employees met, prayed, served, and planned together—setting both individual and team goals for the 2008-2009 academic year.

Gathering for team-building and training exercises, the leaders invested time in devotions; decorating common areas; shopping, cooking, and eating together; and becoming well-versed in all aspects of their campus roles. The most meaningful training exercise for many, as voiced by ASB Vice-President Josh Warner, was the three-day service project. 

Dean of Students Brenda Roth said serving together was a critical component of this year’s training event.  She developed it from the theme, “Vintage Jesus.” This phrase, coined by author and workshop leader Gerry Breshears, challenges Christ-followers to evaluate the question Jesus asked His disciples: “Who do you say I am?”  Part of Roth’s answer to this question—“Jesus was a servant”—caused her to pursue service as a valuable piece of the training process.

Roth identified Canyonview Camp near Silverton, Oregon, as a great fit for her goal. So, Corban’s student leaders and staff shared their mid-August retreat there: repairing, maintaining, and adding structures on the grounds.  They got down and dirty—literally.  ASB’s Warner says, “Out there in the heat, sweating—it was a great bonding experience!” 

Five teams from Student Life tackled these physically-intense projects. They cleaned roofs and pressure-washed buildings; removed a collapsing bathroom roof and instigated repairs; and set fence posts and built 1½ lengths of fence. Two projects involved painting:  a barn exterior (along with making improvements on the barn’s beams and doors); and the peaked roof of the dining hall, which was complicated because of its beams.

Residence Life Director Jimmy D’Agosta relayed that when some projects didn’t get as far as students hoped, it led to excellent spiritual discussions about how to measure success. Other projects concluded faster than anticipated, with much rejoicing. D’Agosta believes everyone gave their all to the projects—evidenced by tired and sore bodies. He expressed his approval: “I didn’t hear one complaint!  They stepped into each project fully, and you could tell they were focusing on being good servants.” Two days of workshops also made an impact on student leaders.  ASB Officers, in charge of student events and also committed to being campus role-models, came out of a session featuring administrators passionate about a theme of unity for the school year. ASB President David Collett summarizes, “We are hoping to connect the students with the administration in new ways. We are all behind the mission of the College, and by unifying the students and the administration, we are strengthened as a community of believers."

RAs have a key role in campus life as well.  Roth relays, “On a basic level, they are first aid, CPR, and AED certified and trained with building evacuation and emergency protocols. On the more complex side they are trained to be observers: they are looking to provide opportunities for growth and identify signs that would show a particular student isn’t thriving.” The RAs can then connect students with the appropriate resources.

At the Dedication Dessert, the culmination of the training event, student leaders gave voice to their individual and team’s spiritual goals for their halls. The women of Aagard shared a theme of Restoration, which first and foremost meant modeling a healthy personal spiritual life. The men of Farrar will “Love God and Live Out Faith—Together, as Brothers.”  The women’s wing of Prewitt-VanGilder chose, “I Am Prewitt,” for their theme because each resident—her individual goals, personality, and spirituality—becomes part of the dorm’s dynamics. 

All of the eight campus entities spoke with commitment and sincerity. Vice-President of Student Life Nancy Hedberg closed the Dedication, joining hands in a circle with the leaders and making eye-contact with each individual before commissioning the group in prayer. Such intentionality throughout the training event proves that Corban emphasizes heart and mind readiness in all of life’s arenas.

Student Life’s leader training the last two weeks—spiritually, mentally, and even physically—will help anchor Corban residents as they begin or return to studies for 2008-2009.