USM graduates its first leadership program participants


The University of Southern Mississippi instituted a new program in 2014 to give students access to leadership training and resume building skills. This new program will have its first graduates this semester. The university put the program forward to help students enter the job market and appeal to employers.

“We talk a lot about leadership theory, but more importantly, we concentrate on practical skills,” said Christy Arrazattee, director for the Center for Community and Civic Engagement. “Students have the opportunity to observe leadership skills and then actually practice them by implementing a leadership project in their final semester.”

Arrazattee said the program uses different tools to get students ready for the working world.

“We also work on resumes, future goals, interview skills, using Google Drive [and] building an online portfolio — all important skills that will help once they get to the job market,” Arrazattee said.

All students are eligible for this program. Students have to sign up for IDS 181, an introductory course on leadership. According to the course’s syllabus, the course can help develop leadership abilities by teaching students to identify certain behaviors.

This course said its goal is to challenge students’ ideas of leadership and to teach students leadership theories and how to put them into practice so they can better lead groups on campus and in the workforce. This also helps students in the workforce as they can put this program on resumes.

There is no commitment for the first course. However, for students to continue in certification, there are other required classes.

“If students wish to continue with the leadership certificate after taking IDS 181, they need to complete three electives related to leadership — most of which are general education classes — participate in and write reports on three leadership experiences outside of the classroom and complete IDS 450 Practicum in Leadership, where they will complete a large team leadership project,” Arrazattee said.

“The Leadership Experience Program is a great opportunity for you to enhance your existing leadership skills,” the site for the Leadership Experience Program reads. “You will gain critical leadership and personal development skills that will help you excel personally and professionally, both inside and outside of the classroom.”

Junior psychology major Christopher Huffman is among the program’s first graduates and is a 2015 Southern Style Team member, IFC Executive Board Member and a member of SGA. Although he is not getting his degree this semester, he said he is already using the information that he is receiving from the program.

Huffman said he is excited and that one of the best things he and classmates have been able to do is work with the American Cancer Society on Relay for Life.

“Through the Leadership Certificate Program, I have gained so much on personal and professional development,” Huffman said. “In our open class environment, we have
learned professional skills like perfecting our resume, bettering our interview skills, and learning new graphic design skills.”

Huffman said the material was easily applicable to his many roles on campus. He said he plans to use these strategies throughout his life to help him as a candidate for graduate schools or possible employment.

Huffman encouraged other students to try the program as well.

“I challenge any leader on campus to sign up for the program to have your leadership skills challenged and changed for the betterment of yourself,” he said.