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@State - the SDSU Student Newsletter

Leadership Certificate Gains Momentum

The SDSU Leadership Certificate

Like power, spirituality and Movember, the term “leadership” can sometimes seem like a fuzzy concept. But for students in San Diego State University’s Leadership Certificate program, its definition, execution and impact are becoming increasingly clear.

The Office of Student Life and Leadership began accepting its first student participants into the Leadership Certificate program last January. Since then, the program has quickly gained momentum, with 355 students currently working toward completion.

Sasha Shkolnik, a senior majoring in International Business, is one of those students. As a member and leader of several student organizations including the International Business Society, Chabad Jewish Student Life and the Pre-Law Society, Shkolnik said she’s actively involved on campus, but lacked a thorough understanding of her own qualities as a leader.

She said the workshops have helped her learn about herself in a different light, as well as her leadership traits that she can improve and capitalize on as she moves toward graduation and into the workforce.

Tackling Knowledge and Know-How

According to Student Life and Leadership Assistant Director Robyn Adams, the certificate program is just as much about discovering the meaning of leadership as it is honing one’s own leadership skillset.

The Leadership Certificate program tackles both the knowledge and the know-how of leadership through five required components, including a series of workshops, experiential programs, community service, on-campus leadership participation and a reflective capstone project.

There is no required timeline or sequence for fulfilling the various requirements of the certificate. But because of the program’s nature as a mechanism for growth and self-discovery, Adams recommends students allow 18 to 24 months to complete the program. 

On-The-Job Application

While Adams said the curriculum directly benefits students academically and personally, it also has a knack for helping students get a foot in the door on the career front.

The certificate and the elements that comprise it will do wonders for a bare resume, according to Adams. Each aspect of the program will also be reflected on students’ upcoming co-curricular transcript, a university document that includes learning experiences completed outside the classroom.

In addition to standing out on paper, she said participants will shine in person, too.

“Employers will often ask a candidate for their definition of leadership during an interview,” Adams said. “If students stumble on that question or can’t answer it at all, that’s a problem. Students who show that they understand the concept of leadership and can relate that knowledge to specific experiences and capabilities will stand out in the job market.”

Spring Forward

Although Student Life and Leadership workshops have ended for the fall, students are encouraged plan ahead for the spring semester.

The Aztec CORE Leadership Retreat, a three-day campout at Mt. Palomar, is one option for students looking to fulfill the experiential component of the certificate program. Applications for the retreat, which will take place January 10-12, are due by Dec. 3 at 4 pm.

Students will have another opportunity for in-depth, hands-on leadership discovery in February when the SDSU Leadership Summit is held in the new Aztec Student Union.