On April 7th, LEAD held its third annual Leadership Fellows Recognition Luncheon to recognize Leading Edge’s 49 Leadership Fellows (coaches) for the dedication they have shown towards the program and the personal growth of their coachees. As another school year comes to a close, the gathering gave the Fellows the opportunity to reflect back on their experience as leadership coaches in the Leading Edge (One-on-One Leadership Coaching) program and their impact on the Georgia Tech community.
The event kicked off with opening remarks about Leading Edge’s impact on the institute from John Stein, Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students, then was followed by personal testimonies and words of thanks from coachees in this year’s cohort of Leading Edge students. Prachi Kulkarni, a fourth year Computer Engineering student who participated in Leading Edge spoke at the luncheon, recounting her journey with her leadership coach, Brandy Blake. She described her experience, saying “Brandy really pushed me to think out of the box and think for myself rather than just spoon feeding me. Through the experiments that she helped me design for myself, I was able to work on my weaknesses and improve on my strengths and emerge as a better leader. The organization that I’m President for is actually winning a nation-wide award this year and I don’t think that would have been possible if it wasn’t for Brandy.”
However, with Leading Edge, the personal growth does not stop at the student being coached. The process of coaching undergraduate students and serving as their guides for exploring their leadership potential has meaningful benefits for the leadership coaches too. According to Leadership Fellow and third-year PhD student in the Chemistry program Frederico Pulvirenti, “Coaching has taught me how to be more organized and how to view problems from a lot of different perspectives. I learned how to let a person open up and actively reflect on his or her potential by asking powerful questions, that stimulate but do not intimidate. I find myself capable of understanding and managing diversity better.”
In addition to growing coaches’ self-awareness, the act of engaging with students on a deeper interpersonal level through coaching has proved to be rewarding in a number of other ways. Maggie Miller, an International Education Manager in Georgia Tech’s Office of International Education, who served as a Leadership Fellow this year commends Leading Edge for giving her the opportunity to connect with undergraduate students. “My position is highly administrative, and I don’t work directly with students. I loved seeing the growth of my coachees; watching them gain confidence through carrying out their leadership experiments was so rewarding and inspiring.”
The major impact that Leading Edge has had on this year’s coaches is validated by the number that have volunteered to return to the program next year. 26 (or over half) of this year’s Leadership Fellows will continue coaching students over the 2016-2017 school year. The program has also attracted 44 new coaches (the greatest number of coaches Leading Edge has ever had), comprised of engaged graduate students, faculty, and staff from a diversity of programs and departments across the Georgia Tech community. So although another year is coming to a close, we look forward to next year and continuing to grow leadership at Georgia Tech.
Read more about the Leadership Fellows program