The goal of the Initiative is to connect with as many of our alumni and friends as possible to celebrate this shared milestone and enlist their support in building the story of the next 20 years and beyond.
When I think back to the time we had our first meeting as Snyder Fellows, I can distinctly remember Coach Snyder talking about his time as a teacher. My eager little ears perked up, as I knew I was finishing up my last year of my education degree. During our fireside chat with Coach, he began to tell us about he started teaching Spanish right out of college. Though he did know some Spanish, he talked about how rough it was teaching this subject because it wasn’t something he was proficient in. He worked hard every day to make sure he was putting his best effort forth to teach his students. During my first year of teaching, I feel like I was thrown into a similar situation.
I graduated from Kansas State in May of 2016. I was excited to get back to my alma mater, Salina Central, and teach high school journalism. My passion for journalism education started in those very classrooms, and my journalism teacher, J.D. Garber, was who I would be teaching alongside. During the summer I was preparing for my classes, thinking I was going to be teaching all broadcast journalism classes. Boy, was I wrong. When I finally received the schedule of classes I would be teaching, I saw I had six sections of a class called ‘Career and Life Planning.’ My immediate reaction was, “How am I supposed to teach kids about how to plan their career and life, while I am still trying to figure mine out?”
At this moment I knew I had to change my mindset. I was ready for this. I have the perfect set of tools: Coach Snyder’s 16 Goals. It was time for my to use these to master what Coach himself did so long ago in that Spanish classroom. It was time for me to become Miss Dinkel.
Being Miss Dinkel means the focus and motivation I had as a student now has to be instilled in the eager but sometimes insecure high schoolers I see each day. Many of them show up in my room with different abilities and personalities, but when they leave they take with them a no-self limitations attitude.
As a member of the inaugural class of Bill Snyder Leadership Legacy Fellows I was taught life goals that would shape me as a person and as a leader in the classroom. Choosing one of Coach Snyder’s goals meant picking a slogan I could live my life by but also share with my students. Goal #12 “No-Self Limitations” to me meant to forget the impossible. It also meant to rise up to any challenge because many of us can accomplish way more than we ever expected.
Being Miss Dinkel in my first year teaching was hard and required me put in extra time to share this philosophy and vision with my students. Posting it around the room and having students define themselves with Coach Snyder’s goal was my first shot at making a difference. It was received with no angst and sparked the start of me using his goals in all my classes.
In the fall of this school year my vision seemed to finally strike a cord with one of my students. Junior Kamryn Arnold was unsure of her abilities at best when we first met a little over a year ago but after being a part of her national recognition for award-winning design at the National Scholastic Press Association Convention I saw in her what I had seen so many years ago in myself. She had developed that no-self limitations attitude, worked extremely hard towards a goal and when she was done it was clear that her insecurities were gone.
It was clear after my first small victory towards instilling my vision in my students that the work ahead was within reach but that my journey was far from over. I can still use each of these goals to improve myself, and hopefully pass it on to all of my current and future students.
This past January, the Leading Change Institute (LCI) launched its first institute abroad in Ziguinchor, Senegal. The institute built on relationships started through the 2016 and 2017 Mandela Washington Fellows hosted at Kansas State University. LCI is an endowed leadership program made possible through the generous support and vision of David and Ellie Everitt . The Leading Change Institutes launched in 2015 with the sole purpose of bringing together thinkers, doers, scholars, and leaders that are all collectively addressing real issues with tangible strategies. This program marked the sixth institute for the Staley School and the first to be hosted internationally.
The Leading Change Institute partnered with DECLIC, an international youth organization that engages passionate, skilled, and positive young leaders from a diverse tapestry of cultural backgrounds to respond to the youth leadership challenge in West Africa. DECLIC was founded in late August 2016 by five Mandela Washington Fellows, one of whom is a 2016 Kansas State University Mandela Washington Fellow graduate, Salif Kanoute.
Throughout the three-day institute, global thought leaders working across a multitude of sectors and youth of varying ages engaged in dialogue to harness new thinking, develop a Theory of Change for DECLIC, and to discuss strengths and the community methodology, all as a way to advance youth leadership across the continent of Africa.
“The model that DELIC has woven into their organization is not just theoretical; it’s how they operate and is an embodied approach to leadership, which was perhaps one of the things that excited us the most throughout the institute,” said Trisha Gott.
In the spirit of the Leading Change Institute model, this group recognizes that the most challenging problems are multi-layered, cross-sector, and interdisciplinary.
“The passionate youth who make up DECLIC are wholly committed to creating opportunities; economically, politically, and socially, for the community that they love. We firmly believe that 10 to 15 years down the road, we will be able to recognize a significant shift as a result of their work,” said Mary Tolar.
Beginning in mid-June, the Staley School will host its next Leading Change Institute; the 2018 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. K-State will host 25 of Africa’s bright, emerging civic leaders, including two of DECLIC’s core team members, for a six-week Civic Leadership Institute, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.
You can follow DECLIC’s journey on Facebook and subscribe to “The Loop” to receive updates of the upcoming Mandela Washington Fellowship!
I sometimes think back to one of the first questions I was ever asked right before joining the Snyder Leadership Legacy Fellows: “Which of Coach Snyder’s 16 goals to success do you think is most important?”
I contemplated the question while bouncing back and forth off of some of my favorites (unity, never give up, etc.) and wished somehow they could be combined into one. That’s when it hit me. What is this organization all about? Leadership. Leadership, to me, embodies so many of the other goals. To possess great leadership skills is to possess a passion for the other goals to success as well. Not only is having a passion for them necessary, but being able to live them out. Leadership is unity, it is showing great effort, it’s definitely responsibility, and to me, it is the rest of the 16 goals.
I wanted to be a part of the Snyder Leadership Legacy Fellows because I realized how important leadership skills are to have and really wanted to grow and develop those skills. This organization really has taught me so much about leadership. I’ve gotten the opportunity to grow close with other leaders, to attend workshops that help strengthen those skills, to coach, to be coached, and more.
This semester, I am student teaching in a sixth grade classroom and I use the leadership skills I have gained through this organization everyday. I remember our first retreat together as Snyder Fellows; we all went to a practice field early in the morning and split into teams. As teams, we worked through obstacles and competed in different activities. The only way to succeed in any of the activities was to work together as a team. It really showed me the power of teamwork. I reflect on this memory each day as I work in the school. As teachers, we all work together as teams to get things accomplished and to meet the students’ needs. I realize that we are our best selves as a team – united. It’s so important to me to exhibit these skills as a student teacher. I aim to inspire the kids to be leaders just as the Snyder Leadership Legacy Fellows has inspired me.
Another important impact this organization has had on me was the opportunity to coach a sports team. I coached third and fourth grade soccer. I had never coached anything before and the last time I played soccer was when I was in elementary school myself. It dared me to go outside of my comfort zone. It helped me relate to my students at school when it was their turn to try something new. I remembered how I felt my first days of coaching soccer and how I managed it: I utilized the people around me to help me and guide me. I got help from those people who maybe knew a little more than I did and realized that that is ok. Part of being a great leader is also the ability to be led and to learn from others. I relay my experience to the students in hopes that that will give them the courage to persevere, to allow themselves to learn from others, to try something new, and to learn something new. This experience also helped my communication skills with my co-coaches, parents, and team. Communicating with them was crucial in order to run a successful team. I use these skills to help me while I teach as I am called to communicate information to the students, to my coworkers, and to parents. This organization is the real deal; you will use these skills in your everyday life.
Our world needs great leaders. It needs great leaders that possess the 16 goals that Coach Bill Snyder talks about and exhibits. Being a leader is more than just being able to command a group of people; being a leader is being able to be selfless, to inspire others, and to be able to understand and adapt to a growing world. I have truly found the importance that this organization has played in my life and I am forever grateful.
On Monday, Feb. 19, students, faculty, and community members gathered at the Leadership Studies Building to engage in the first Cats for Inclusion community dialogue of the spring semester.
The Cats for Inclusion campaign was established in 2015 as a partnership between the Black Student Union and Staley School of Leadership Studies. This student-led initiative seeks to address issues of racial injustice and other forms of oppression within the K-State and Manhattan communities.
The partnership is facilitated through participation in a special section of LEAD 405: Leadership in Practice. This spring, there are 31 students enrolled in the section, led by instructors, Drs. Mike Finnegan and Kerry Priest, and Ms. Erika Davis.
“What’s really cool about the Cats for Inclusion Campaign is that it started because students saw a need to engage in meaningful conversations around inclusion and diversity,” said Finnegan.
The purpose of the February 19 dialogue was to cultivate a better understanding of the campus climate and experiences of students, as well as build a network of individuals, groups, and organizations working toward a more inclusive K-State.
Kicking off the evening, LEAD 405 students McKenzy Umscheid and Erin Graber provided context and history of the Cats for Inclusion Campaign and shared the #YouAreWelcome video as a way of instantly creating a space that celebrated diversity and fostered inclusion.
A panel of five students then volunteered to share their own “inclusion stories.” These stories highlighted challenges around race, gender, ethnicity, and privilege. Each presenter modeled what it means to be courageous and vulnerable in sharing their story at a public forum. The five participants were Julissa Andazola, Samantha Rose, Sarah Ward, Anna Faust, and Darrell Reese Jr.
After the panel, participants dispersed into small groups that were facilitated by LEAD 405 students. Emily Lavery, a junior in human resource management, helped to facilitate a group discussion alongside her peers. “I hope that people walk away with an action plan. I don’t want it to be one of those things where people just sit and listen. I hope that everyone here brings this information into their [own] circles.”
As vulnerability was embraced and stories were exchanged, individuals were able to identify shared values and cross-pollinate visions and ideas of how to help advance inclusion on campus and in the community.
“Cats for Inclusion supports the idea that we all can exercise leadership to make progress on the challenges facing our campus. Whether it is talking to someone new each day, or developing new courses and events, we all can do something,” said Dr. Priest.
My name is Lauren Mertz and I am lucky enough to be in the third class of Snyder Leadership Legacy Fellows. I wanted to write about my experience coaching youth soccer in the Manhattan community last fall, as this was one of my most favorite memories during my senior year. Along with three other wonderful fellows, I had the chance to coach the most rambunctious, fun-filled and energetic group of fourth graders around. There were three main lessons I took away from this experience – consistency is key, improvement happens in the little moments, and laugh more.
Repetition is the greatest teacher, and this was true for our team throughout the whole season; this also happens to be Coach Snyder’s Goal #14: Consistency. With busy fall semesters, applying for big kid jobs, and attempting to maintain friendships, I sometimes caught myself forgetting the small things. I had no idea how much value these little things had for this group of kids. I will never forget when I wasn’t able to make it to a practice, and wasn’t able to chat with them about what they had learned in school that day, and the following week they made sure to subtly remind me. It’s these little conversations and moments that add up during the course of the semester and it’s about so much more than sports, at that point.
Understanding that teams will not change and improve overnight was such a big lesson for me. I am a highly competitive person, and coaching fourth graders is sometimes the equivalent of herding cats. I learned how to spot out little bits of improvement and growth in each player, and then to celebrate these as big wins. I think this will be exponentially helpful in my future career, as I will be managing a team of people. Having the ability to spot these little inches forward and celebrate accordingly boosted team morale and confidence. Seeing those kids realize they were being recognized for their hard work was one the most rewarding parts of this experience.
Lastly, I learned to laugh more from this group of kids. It’s so easy to get caught up in the stresses of each day, but seeing those kids twice a week made me feel alive and brought so much joy to my days. They made me laugh with their puns, dance moves, and all around demeanor. I already miss their inexplicably goofy questions about my day, or if I was a grown up (far from it), or what I had for lunch. These kids naturally, and without effort, sought out the joy in this world. I have worked to capture that joy and take it with me each day so I can hopefully share it in a way that those kids would appreciate.
These are just a few of the lessons I learned from our team. They were an absolute gift to my life and I miss them already. I could not be more grateful for the experience of hanging out with fourth graders each week, and by the end of the season, I had learned more from them about life than any amount of knowledge we could have given them about soccer.
If you are interested in the 2018-2019 Snyder Leadership Legacy Fellows Program, you can find the application here.
Each fall semester, the Staley School of Leadership Studies extends a unique invitation to junior and senior level students to serve as class leaders and teach alongside faculty for LEAD 212: Introduction to Leadership Concepts.
The peer-led learning communities cultivated in this two-hour block over the course of a 15-week semester are highly beneficial to both the class leaders and the students taking the course. Those selected to serve as class leaders help to establish a safe and positive space for learning and self-growth by facilitating small group discussions, leading active-learning exercises, and empowering students in their leadership and academic endeavors.
Peer-led learning communities have shown to contribute to students’ overall collegiate success. Students have shown to perform better inside the classroom, have a greater sense of community, and grow in leadership efficacy by learning alongside peers.
Melissa Hollar, a senior in marketing with a minor in leadership, served as one of 50 class leaders this past fall semester of 2017. “It really helped me recognize how important building and maintaining strong relationships with people is to me,” Hollar said, “I’ve loved connecting with my students, seeing them around on campus, or answering questions about classes to take. Overall, being a class leader has been the most influential and impactful thing I’ve done since being at K-State.”
Adam Johnson, a senior in Bakery Science and Management, Food Science and Industry, and a minor in leadership, experienced many dimensions of growth through the experience of serving as a class leader.
“This position made me learn of my abilities as an individual and as a facilitator. It gave me so much confidence with my everyday life. Caring for others is an extremely important part of being human, and this role gave me the platform to do so, not only for my students, but for myself. I’ve learned so much from them and I loved this opportunity,” said Johnson.
Emily Polston, a senior in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies with a minor in nonprofit leadership, found that serving as a class leader allowed her to help educate students about the importance of engaging in difficult conversations and using that to bring about productivity and change through dialogue and locating common understanding.
“The most profound learning that occurred for me during my time as a class leader involved interacting with differences. The students that I was able to interact with in my learning community allowed me to continue my personal growth alongside theirs and it was such an incredible experience,” said Polston.
The Staley School of Leadership Studies is seeking applicants to serve as LEAD 212 class leaders for the 2018 fall semester. If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity, you can find the application packet and additional information at
On Tuesday, November 14th, the Kansas State University community came together to “live out loud” the values that make K-State such an extraordinary place. As the nation’s first operational land-grant university, Kansas State was founded on a vision of knowledge and education for all, and the #KSUnite walk was an important time to gather—at this time, in this place—to affirm our commitment to equal opportunity, learning, and service to the common good. Continue reading “Continuing the KSUnite Walk, Together”→
What to expect during our 20th Anniversary and Reunion Weekend: The who, what, when, where, and why of reconnecting with leadership studies!
John F. Kennedy once said, “leadership and learning are indispensable to each other,” and I couldn’t agree more. As a sophomore, I have only been involved within the Staley School for a short period of time, but it has already impacted my life immensely; I have been challenged to grow in ways I never expected. K-State and leadership studies have truly become a home for me, and I know it is also considered a home for many of you. As a Staley School of Leadership Studies Ambassador, I couldn’t be more excited to welcome you home for our 20th Anniversary Celebration!
In the fall of 2005, the Staley School of Leadership Studies offered its first course in nonprofit leadership studies—which began a new “track” of the leadership studies minor, focused specifically on developing the leadership needed in the growing nonprofit sector. This unique program is helping to prepare a new generation of nonprofit leaders through focused curriculum and hands-on learning experiences. The students and alumni of this program are part of a network of leaders who are impacting communities around the state of Kansas, the United States, and beyond!Continue reading “Fostering Leadership for Life: Nonprofit Leadership Studies”→
For the second consecutive summer, from June 16 to July 30, the Staley School of Leadership Studies hosted the Mandela Washington for Young African Leaders, a flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), which empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking. The cohort of Fellows hosted this year, a group of 25 bright and emerging young civic leaders from Sub-Sahara Africa, were part of a larger group of 1,000 Mandela Washington Fellows hosted at institutions across the United States this summer. The Fellows took part in a six-week Civic Leadership Institute throughout which the Staley School facilitated opportunities for cultural exchange and leadership development to advance the work of each Fellow by growing their capacity to lead change upon return to their home countries.
YALI 2017 at K-State came to an end with celebration and graduation ceremony on Saturday July 29, 2017. On this day, our 2017 Mandela Fellows received a certificate from Dr. Mary Hale Tolar, Director of the School, and Dr. Brandon Kliewer, professor of civic leadership, in acknowledgement of their completion of the 2017 Institute at Staley School. Also, the Fellows received a certificate of appreciation from the the City of Manhattan.
Every year, students have the opportunity to spend winter and spring breaks doing a number of things. Some students spend time at home or elsewhere, taking advantage of the opportunity for rest, relaxation, or additional hours to work at their jobs in their home communities or around Manhattan. But, through the Alternative Breaks program, the Staley School invites students to consider using their breaks to serve others. Continue reading “Fostering Leadership for Life: Alternative Breaks”→
The LEAD 212: Introduction to Leadership Concepts course has been a cornerstone experience of Leadership Studies for 20 years. From the beginning, this course has invited junior and senior level students to teach alongside the faculty, as a way to advance their leadership learning and the learning of the students they work with. These “Class Leaders” serve as valuable points of connection and learning for students along their leadership journey and their K-State experience. Continue reading “Fostering Leadership for Life: LEAD 212 Class Leaders”→
International Service Teams, formerly part of Community Service Programs, first began in 1989. Since that time, over 400 K-State students have lived and worked alongside communities in 22 different countries on five continents. While the program, partners, and students have changed over the years, the core has remained the same—that service is reciprocal, that our teams are going to learn from and with the community, and that the service projects are driven and determined by our site partners. Continue reading “Fostering Leadership for Life: International Service Teams”→
The K-State community has returned to the campuses of Kansas State University to begin another academic year! With a new semester comes new opportunities for learning and growth both inside and outside the classroom. For 20 years, the Staley School of Leadership Studies has been proud to be part of the K-State experience. Continue reading “A New Academic Year: Learning for Civic Purpose”→
Last week marked week five for the Mandela Washington Fellows who came to the city of Manhattan, Kansas for the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), hosted by the Staley School of Leadership at Kansas State University. This remarkable group of young African leaders are here for a six-week Civic Leadership Institute. Throughout the course of the institute, the Staley School will facilitate opportunities for cultural exchange and leadership development to advance the work of each Fellow by growing their capacity to lead change upon return to their home countries.
As a current English teacher in Kansas City, Kansas, I have been enjoying the additional time for reflection that summer brings. With the Staley School of Leadership Studies (SSLS) celebrating its 20th year, many of these reflections have been on my own undergraduate experience and engagement in the Staley School. My name is Whitney Morgan, and I am a Nonprofit Leadership Studies minor, class of 2012. When asked to serve on a committee for the School’s 20th Year Engagement Initiative, there was no question that I wanted to give back to a program that gave so much to me. Continue reading “Letter from 20th-Year Engagement Initiative Committee Member, Whitney Morgan”→
Unbelievable, yet it has been four weeks since an amazing group of Mandela Washington Fellows arrived in the city of Manhattan, Kansas for the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), hosted by the Staley School of Leadership at Kansas State University. This remarkable group of young African leaders are here for a six-week Civic Leadership Institute. Throughout the course of the Institute, the Staley School will facilitate opportunities for cultural exchange and leadership development to advance the work of each Fellow by growing their capacity to lead change upon return to their home countries.
Three weeks down, three more to go for the 2017 Mandela Fellows. The Fellows continue to learn and explore the city of Manhattan and the state of Kansas. The Mandela Fellows are on a educational journey for a six-week Civic Leadership Institute at Kansas State University. Throughout the course of the Institute, the Staley School will facilitate opportunities for cultural exchange and leadership development to advance the work of each Fellow by growing their capacity to lead change upon return to their home countries.