Skip to main content

Emerging Leaders: Inaugural Class Completes Program



 Emerging New Leaders in the College of Optometry



The process of developing any skill requires a learned teacher, good work ethic, and, quite simply, time. Nothing worth doing well in life is figured out overnight, which is why for the past semester, a group of first and second year Optometry students at the University of Missouri - St. Louis have been meeting to work closer to the goal of becoming leaders within their field. 

 Under the direction of Assistant Dean Dr. Ed Bennett and Program Director of Student Services Nicholas Palisch, the members of the Emerging Leaders Program were guided through the nuances of leadership and its pertinence to Optometry. 

Back left to right: Assistant Dean-Dr. Ed Bennett, Nicole Ethridge, Jamie Weiser, Ellen Sanders, Kristine Andersen, Kelly Freeborn, Program Director- Nick Palisch.  Front left to right: Ethan Brilley, Shelby Baugh, Laurie Thompson, Nicholas Zahn, Katie Loock, Morgan Tiefenbrunn, Yousef Ibrahim.


Once a week, a specific topic would be presented by either of the instructors, and a subsequent group project would take place to practice the skills. For instance, following a brief lecture on the topic of conflict management in the workplace, the students divided into cohorts of three and were given prompts that allowed each person to act out certain roles. One student would act as mediator while the other two acted out the roles. 

First year optometry student and member of the Emerging Leaders Program, Yousef Ibrahim, found this aspect of the meetings to be quite enjoyable "My favorite part of the class was the amount of small group interaction. By getting to spend a substantial amount of time in group discussion, I feel like we were better able to evaluate what type of leadership was our strong suit as well as how to channel our strengths to maximize our potential as leaders." 

Aside from the leadership related lectures and group discussions, the students also took part in what is called StrengthsQuest, which is a testing software utilized by many corporations and academic institutions to evaluate an applicant's five most resounding attributes.

 Over the course of the semester, the students would continually look back to what five characteristics were most prominent in their repertoire and use them to solve an array of theoretical dilemmas. And while it was necessary to focus on the skills one has already established, the students were encouraged to try novel ways to solve work-related disagreements, for example. 

As with any other skill, the process of developing and honing leadership is never complete. The graduating class of 2014's Emerging Leaders Program is now much more equipped to take on new roles of leadership within the field of optometry, but they also know that what they learned was not merely a means to some proverbial end. In fact, being a leader sometimes means behaving in a way that superficially appears to the contrary, "Before taking the class, I put people into two categories: leaders and followers” commented Ibrahim. 

 Leaders and followers are really two different people and a leader can often take different roles.  “I came to find, however, that there are a number of different ways to lead. The Emerging Leaders Program showed me that being a leader doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the person that everyone listens to; sometimes, knowing how to evaluate a situation and react accordingly is even more important” said Ibrahim. 

The adage that leaders must be made, not born, is exceedingly apparent once the veil is lifted. Leading from the front can be straight forward, try pulling a wagon.  Leading from the back, however, is something that requires an entirely new perspective, and one that all good leaders should aspire  to become.  

By: Nick Zahn Class of 2017

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

UMSL Students Flourish: Receive Awards, Honors, and Leadership Positions at Optometry's Meeting

In the College of Optometry’s 37-year history it is very likely that UMSL pride has never been more evident than it was June 21 – 25 in Washington, D.C. at Optometry’s Meeting. UMSL dominated the honors awarded to students and won the respect of the 2,300 students nationwide who were in attendance.  Want proof?
How about this: 1. Recipient of one of  AOSA's highest honors: "The Spirit Award" 2. Two recipients of the College being awarded a first place $15,000 scholarship in a highly competivie national competition 3. One UMSL student elected as the National Liaison to the AOA Contact Lens and Cornea Section 4. One UMSL student was selected as one of two finalists for AOSA National President (the election will be held at a later date).
UMSL’s presence was made known at the very beginning of the meeting when Kate Hamm (’19) was selected to perform the National Anthem at the Opening Ceremony of Optometry’s Meeting.  It just continued to get better.  The Spirit Award, given annual…

UMSL Hosts the 2017 Association of Optometric Contact Lens Educators 34th Annual Educational Workshop

The UMSL College of Optometry was host to 56 contact lens educators from all of the Colleges in North America as well as 23 representatives from contact lens industry sponsors as host of the 34th Annual Association of Optometric Contact Lens Educators(AOCLE) Annual Educational Workshop, held June 1 – 3.  The theme of the meeting was ““Scleral Lenses: The Good, The Bad, The Technology.” Guest lecturers included renown scleral lens innovators Drs. Christine Sindt and Jason Jedlicka.  Attendees had the opportunity to participate in workshops pertaining to scleral lens evaluation and fitting.  A highlight of the workshop was a tour of the new UMSL Patient Care Center.  The organizing committee consisted of Drs. Julie DeKinder, Vinita Henry, Ed Bennett, and Beth Henderson with Dr. DeKinder doing a wonderful job as Chair of the committee.  And she was very pleased to have this opportunity as she relates: “It was an honor to host the AOCLE at UMSL.  Having the opportunity to showcase our new…

Farewell and Good Luck Class of 2017

Farewell, Young Doctors. Go Be The Vision. Dear Class of 2017;
This was Nick's final email email to the Class of 2017 on Thursday, May 11, 2017.—23,890+ emails later… Today, May 12, 2017 they graduate as Doctor's of Optometry.  Please indulge me for a bit… If I were to give your commencement address…Here is what I would have to say to each of you and to be honest—I don’t like goodbyes, so this will help capture my thoughts and feelings.  Today, we celebrate your commencement.  Cheers- Nick
This is all because of you.
Four years ago each of you began a journey together—not knowing what to expect or what to do, but you quickly learned the next four years would be a challenge.  Through it all though, you stood tough.  Quite frankly, it wasn’t always easy and I am sure moments questioning your decision crossed your mind—maybe more than once.  Always remember this: If it was meant to be easy then everyone would be here, but that is not the case.  You are one of a small group of dedicat…