Free leadership retreat offers speakers, workshops

Free leadership retreat offers speakers, workshops

Allison Mueller

Anne Kooiker / Winonan

Winona State University will be hosting a Warriors Leadership Retreat on Jan. 30 to teach students how to be better leaders in their career, academics and social groups.

Students are able register for the 7th annual retreat by today, Wednesday, Jan. 27 for free. the event features workshops, keynote speakers, as well as breakfast and lunch for students.

Tracy Rahim, creator of the Warriors Leadership Retreat said this year the event is beginning a week later than usual, but she estimates the numbers may be different than average.

“Sometimes I know some people have scheduling conflicts, but I usually average around 150 or so, which is a good number,” Rahim said. “Big enough where, ‘wow this is really cool,’ but small enough where you are not like ‘holy cow this is way too big.’”

There had been similar retreats hosted on Winona State’s west campus with smaller numbers, but Rahim created this event on main campus in 2009 as part of the official leadership and development program for all students who may or may not be involved in the program.

“The morning and early afternoon are mini workshops led by student leaders here on campus. It’s an investment of time, but no money is invested because I even pay lunch if you’re not on the meal plan.” Rahim said.

Brittany Bieber, who will be presenting this year, said there are different workshops and speakers offered every year, and the messages are very interesting.

“The keynote speaker is always way different and has different leadership styles that you take out of it. There are different workshops you go to,” Bieber said. “Some are just about being brave, having confidence in yourself and how to be more organized as a leader. There is always different people so it’s always interesting to see what they have to say.”

Keynote speaker Jermaine Davis has been teaching college students for more than 15 years, and he received the esteemed student-nominated College Instructor of the Year Award according to Winona State’s student activities and leadership department.

Rahim said Davis is perfect for this event.

“I have seen him present many times. He is really dynamic, gets people excited but always has a good message. That will close out the day, and everyone will come back from their workshops for the keynote presentation.” Rahim said.

When students leave the retreat, they gain a variety of skills under the general branch of leadership, whether it be questions to discuss with friends, interview tips and more aware of what leadership entails, Rahim said.

“I think for some, they walk away with some concrete skills. In the past I have had interview tips and skills. Students who have gone to that have really walked away with ‘I know how to really nail an interview,’ which is great,” Rahim said. “Other times other things they can get out is things to think about, whether its questions they have they want to seek out later or opportunities to have discussions with their friends or roommates or whatnot.”

The retreat gives students skills, aids in students’ careers, and adds leadership skills to a resume, Rahim added.

“Being able to say I participated in formalized leadership development on campus whether it’s just attending the retreat or participating in an actual program that I do, I know has actually gotten students jobs,” Rahim said. “They have come back and told me, because I had that on my resume, I got asked about it, and my manager said, ‘You have the training to be a great leader. I am going to hire you instead of these other people.’”

Bieber, an elementary education student, said the skills she has learned from the retreat will be used later in her career as well.

“Eventually I want to be a principal so at some point I think all this leadership has really put me into wanting to be that top leadership at a school.” Bieber said.

As the current UPAC director, Bieber also said in years previous she enjoyed the event and through it she has learned how anyone can become a leader.

“This will be my third year attending, but this is my first year to present,” Bieber said. “I think anyone can be a better leader, and I think even if you’re not wanting to be a leader, it also helps you just grow as a person. I think it can benefit anyone.”

But just because the event helps students gain new skills, Rahim said it is also fun for students, who usually tell her they wish they had more than one day at the event. Rahim said students have told her when leaving the event that they thought it was “awesome” and it gave them more to think about than they though.