Grace Cavanaugh ~ Staff Writer

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A group picture of everyone who attended the Emerging Leader Retreat 2019, courtesy of Jonathan Fries

The weekend of January 18th through the 20th, the University of Lynchburg hosted the Emerging Leader Retreat. According to Jonathan Fries, an organizer of the Emerging Leader Retreat and the Director of Second-Year, Transfer, and Non-Traditional Student Programs, the Retreat is “for first and second year students and provides students with the chance to learn about a wide range of leadership topics.”

Fries said, “This is my fourth year being involved with the Retreat. This was the first year that we opened up the [Retreat] to our neighboring institutions…to provide other perspectives on leadership, as well as to help students develop a leadership network both on and off campus. Every year we look for new ways to enhance the experience.”

Superheroes have been the theme for the past four years of the Retreat. Fries said, “[t]he reason for superheroes is because they make a great analogy for leadership. There are a wide range of lessons, quotes, and examples…that you can pull from to help show students effective skills of a leader.”

Sena Nomura, a sophomore Biomed major, said he “went on the [R]etreat because, since I am the President of Sigma Nu, there is always room to improve as a leader.”

According to Fries, “[t]he way the [R]etreat is formatted is that students hear a 30 minute TED Talk style presentation where they learn about a specific topic. After that presentation, they are broken up into small teams where they learn how to apply that concept that they learned through fun interactive activities, discussion, and personal reflection.”

Nathaniel Pierce, a sophomore Political Science and Criminology double major, said that he “hoped to learn something new about leadership or teamwork from the retreat.”

The different session topics have titles that point back to the superhero theme of the Retreat, with names such as Origin Story and Superpowers 101. Students who attend the Retreat can learn a different leadership skill from each topic, like how to be perceived as a leader or how to view and learn from failure.

Nomura said, “I came away with a better understanding of my leadership style and how I can apply my strengths to be the most effective leader that I can be.”

“The greatest take-away for me was that everyone has their own origin story, and that is why they are who they are,” said Pierce. He continued, “Everyone has strengths, and everyone has weaknesses, and it is best to learn all of these on a team in order to work well with them.”

Students interested in attending next years retreat, Fries said, “[contact] me or someone in the Office of Student Engagement and Leadership Development. The deadline to apply is traditionally before or after Thanksgiving Break. The Retreat is free for University of Lynchburg students to attend.”


[CAPTION: A group picture of everyone who attended the Emerging Leader Retreat 2019, courtesy of Jonathan Fries.]