York University celebrates the 10th anniversary of LeaderShape Institute

Participants in the LeaderShape Institute

York University marked the 10th anniversary of the Leadershape Institute from Oct. 22 to 27, when 60 York University students attended the annual, award-winning leadership development program at Delta Hotel in Guelph.

Students were joined by eight York University staff and graduates, and two external faculty members affiliated with the parent LeaderShape organization. The Institute was originally established in 1986 in Chicago and first hosted by York University in 2008.

Participants in the LeaderShape Institute

York University Vice-Provost Students (VPS) Lucy Fromowitz served as a guest leader for a panel discussion during the week, along with Prakash Amarasooriya, who led the Toronto Youth Cabinet initiative in pushing for financial literacy in high schools.

Upon their return, the 60 York University students joined the ranks of more than 60,000 LeaderShape Institute graduates worldwide who have explored what they want to achieve and who they want to be in the world.

Coordinated by York’s Student Community & Leadership Development (SCLD), the LeaderShape Institute has developed a strong reputation for being one of the best leadership experiences at York University. The program included six days of intense dialogue and self-exploration in a supportive learning community. Students were challenged and pushed out of their comfort zones to produce a breakthrough in their leadership capacities by developing a personal vision for the change they wish to see in the world.

“LeaderShape was a life-changing experience,” said Jillian Lynch, a fourth-year kinesiology and health sciences student. “This experience arrived at just the right time in my life. I was just beginning to lose momentum to keep making an effort to create positive change. Thankfully, LeaderShape left me feeling refreshed and rejuvenated with a new purpose in life.”

Lynch returned to campus with an action plan on how she could implement positive social change.

“Upon my return to York, I immediately set out on taking the steps to organize a Dance Marathon Fundraiser for SickKids Hospital. Days later, I finalized that the event will take place at The Underground on Feb. 1, 2018,” she said.

Some of the participants in this year’s LeaderShape Institute

One of the core teachings behind the LeaderShape Institute is that leadership is not positional, but rather, it is in how you relate with others. This principle is what informed many of the participants’ experiences in forming strong bonds with one another to challenge pre-conceived notions of what it means to be a leader with a “healthy disregard for the impossible”.

“My experience was quite profound,” said Duan Parchment, a third-year biology student. “I connected with a lot of amazing students in the York community, who helped me see the world differently.”

In the weeks following LeaderShape, students continued to reflect on and share their experience with their peers and sponsors.

“I learned that you are not born a leader, but rather, you cultivate leadership by living through possibility, creating a vision, and forming networks in order to empower one another in bringing a vision to life,” said Rita Iafrate, a third-year law and society student. “No dream can be too big so long as you start small and take bigger steps every day to make your vision possible.

“The friendships and connections I made will allow me to create more opportunities for students on campus, which will in turn create a positive change at York. I am forever grateful for this experience.”

The event was made possible with support from the following campus partners: Athletics and Recreation, Counselling & Disability Services (CDS), Atkinson Centre for Mature and Part-time Students (ACMAPS), Calumet, Career Centre, Centre for Aboriginal Student Services, Department of Community Safety, Founders, Glendon – Office of Student Services, Housing and Residence Life, McLaughlin, McLaughlin College Council, New College, New College Council, Office of Student Community Relations (OSCR), Office of Vice President Finance and Administration, President’s Office, Registrar’s Office, SCLD – Club Peers, SCLD – Health Ed, SCLD – Media and Communications, SCLD – RED Zone, Stong, Stong Student Government, Vanier, Winters, York University Libraries, York Federation of Students.