Leadership is a process. Learning to be a leader and how to use your talents and skills for leadership takes understanding, practice, and perseverance. For junior education major Allie Kalkman, learning how to be a leader has become a way of life.
Throughout her time at Gustavus, Kalkman has sought opportunities to engage in leadership learning and experience. During her first year at Gustavus, Kalkman began exploring leadership through her involvement in the G.O.L.D. (Gusties in Ongoing Leadership Development) program. By partaking in G.O.L.D., Allie’s concept of leadership has evolved.
“The G.O.L.D. program has made me more open to what leadership is and how it can be exemplified. Before starting the G.O.L.D. program, I had the basic top-down notion of leadership. Through my G.O.L.D. experience, I have realized that leadership stems from knowing the people you are leading and lifting them towards accomplishments.”
G.O.L.D. is a joint effort between the Student Activities Office and the Center for Servant Leadership to engage all Gustavus students in leadership learning and practice. G.O.L.D. is an experience-based model that is open to any student and provides a platform to study leadership at three levels: self-leadership (learning what your skills, passions, and talents are), servant leadership (using your skills to serve the common good), and exemplary leadership (transforming values into actions). Workshops are offered on Friday afternoons throughout the academic year, and students that complete seven of eight workshops in each track receive a certificate.
Each workshop is taught by a Gustavus faculty or staff member and is geared toward student leadership development. G.O.L.D. is uniquely designed to meet the needs of all students in that it employs a structure that includes leadership theory, an experiential component, and reflection to deepen the learning in each session.
“This program is meant for all students. Whether you are the head of three student organizations or if you are a first-year student who has yet to find your niche on campus, there is a space in G.O.L.D. for everyone,” Kalkman said.
Now, as a junior, Kalkman has taken her leadership to the next level, serving as the G.O.L.D. Student Coordinator. In that role, she is charged with recruiting students for the program and organizing the weekly workshops. As she continued in the G.O.L.D. program, Kalkman wanted to take on more responsibility and give back to her fellow students.
“I chose to become a part of the leadership team because I wanted to take on more responsibility in the program. It has given me the experience of watching and assisting with the development of a program that answers the needs of its students. As a future educator, knowledge of this process will be extremely helpful.”
In her leadership role, Kalkman has been instrumental in the success of the program by getting her fellow Gusties involved. Each semester, roughly 75 students participate in the program. Amy Pehrson, Assistant Director for Vocation and Integrated Learning and Co-Coordinator of the G.O.L.D. Program has witnessed Kalkman’s leadership development.
“Allie’s knowledge of the inner workings of running a co-curricular leadership development program and also being able to see the big picture of student leadership development is inspiring,” Pehrson said. “She continues to assist us in creating a program that meets the needs of a wide variety of students and helps us to focus on not only what needs to be done, but what could be.”
Many G.O.L.D. participants have touted the impact of the program on their leadership development. One recent G.O.L.D. participant stated, “By being involved in G.O.L.D., I learned what it takes to be a leader and learned more about my strengths as an individual. I looked back on past achievements, discovered core values, and set new goals for the future.”
Another former participant stated, “G.O.L.D. taught me about myself, and how I work with others on a deeper level than I have ever been aware of. I wish I would have done this as a first-year student.”
Kalkman agrees that there are many benefits for students who choose to involve themselves in the program. “Students should get involved in G.O.L.D. because leadership is a process. Leadership skills can be cultivated throughout life and there is no ultimate, all-inclusive knowledge of leadership,” she said. “Through the various workshops, students gain knowledge that not only applies to their leadership skills in college, but allows for life-long development.”
Kalkman has undoubtedly grown in her own leadership, and has committed herself to serving her fellow Gusties in their leadership development. Her dedication to learning and growth has impacted not only her, but hundreds of her fellow students. If leadership is indeed a process, Kalkman is a shining example of someone who has put her learning into practice and who will continue to grow in her leadership in the future.
To learn more about the G.O.L.D. Program, visit the program’s website at https://gustavus.edu/sao/gold/
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin