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"The Loop" Blog

Letter from 20th-Year Engagement Initiative Committee Member, Mako Miller

More Than a Program—It’s a Family

Whenever someone mentions the Staley School of Leadership Studies, my face lights up! For me, it truly felt like a second home (and not because SSLS started out as Leadership Studies and Programs in two houses located on Manhattan Avenue). It was my home away from home because it had that family atmosphere. Leadership Studies is where I learned about my abilities and skills as a leader because the faculty and staff knew their students on a deeper level beyond the classroom.

When I think of the faculty and staff of Leadership Studies, I don’t think of professors. I immediately think of family. People like Candi Hironaka, Mary Kay Siefers, and Susan Scott welcomed me into their homes where I met their families and felt the support of people who truly cared about their students. Because of their genuine kindness they knew me on another level and were able to find the leader within me and help develop me into the person, mother, partner, and professional I am today.

Many of you may have been a student employee or intern with Leadership Studies, helped recruit and represent the program as a student ambassador, participated in Leadership Challenge, helped lead a small group as class leader in Introduction to Leadership Concepts, or taught leadership skills on the Colbert Hills golf course through The First Tee. For me, these were my experiences as a student in the minor, and I give credit for these experiences to the family at Leadership Studies that tapped into my strengths and talent to help put me in those positions to learn, grow, and develop as an individual.

Leadership Studies Faculty/Staff Photo from 2004, featuring Mako Miller
Here are the faculty and staff of Leadership Studies in 2004, standing outside the two houses that were the program’s first home. As you can see, Mako is pictured here as an important member of the team! This environment of collegiality with student employees is a critical piece of our story. Since the very beginning, students have had a vital place at the table in nearly every aspect of the Staley School, and these mentorship relationships and work experiences have resulted in great growth and learning on the part of both our students and our learning community as a whole. You can be part of making these opportunities available to future K-State students through your contributions to Leadership for Life!

As a first-generation college student, I needed that guidance to help me on my journey through a landscape unfamiliar to myself and my family. Leadership Studies helped guide me by developing relationships, honing in on students’ talents, and directing them through their leadership development. They helped me find my voice, they paid attention, and helped me discover strengths about myself I didn’t know existed. For Leadership Studies, it’s more than faculty teaching students, it’s about the relationship-building to develop knowledgeable, ethical, caring, inclusive, and diverse leaders in an ever-changing world.

Because of my experience, I am proud and honored to have the opportunity to support the Staley School and give back through the “Leadership for Life” 20th Anniversary Fund. I want others to have a positive and impactful experience like me through Leadership Studies, and I know I can do my part in helping create those experiences through supporting the fund. I would ask that you think back on your time in the minor or programs, and consider how you can help create impactful and meaningful opportunities for current and future K-Staters.

Always a Leadership Wildcat,

Mako Miller (’04)

P.S. I jumped at the chance to serve on the SSLS 20th Year Engagement Committee and have been working to connect with peers from Leadership Studies. I hope to hear back from all of you to catch up and gather feedback on ways to engage with you for the 20th Anniversary Celebration and years to come!

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