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Students learn leadership skills during annual retreat

December 2, 2014

KOKOMO, Ind. — “Love, Peace, and Leadership.”

Leadership retreat 2014Brandi Martin on the climbing wall at Leadership Retreat 2014This year’s theme to the annual leadership retreat at Indiana University Kokomo focused on challenging students to get out of their comfort zones.

“This retreat taught me that we all lead in different ways,” said Dakota Smart, freshman. “Being a leader isn't about leading a group. It's about directing a group of people or one person in the right direction or encouraging others to keep going through whatever obstacles they may face.”

Every year, IU Kokomo takes a group of students on a two-day retreat, at the Tecumseh Leadership Center in Brookston, Indiana. It is designed to help the students discover their capacity of being an effective leader, through participation.

“It’s in an environment where people feel like they can try new things and talk to new people that they might not talk to on campus,” said Maria Ahmad, coordinator of student life and campus diversity.

“It wasn't at all what I thought it was going to be. I figured we were going to do more of leadership type of things, but we went more in depth than that. They showed me a lot more than I expected and I loved it,” said Smart.

Brandi Martin, sophomore, just recently returned from her second leadership retreat.

“This year, I learned a lot about leading groups, and I also gained a bunch of new friends. The retreat is a great way to meet people around campus. I still talk to friends I met at last year’s retreat,” said Martin.

The Office of Student Activities, which sponsors the retreat, received a record number of applications this year. A committee reviews the applications and selects the attendees.

They take a variety of students ranging from freshmen to graduate students, as well as from a variety of majors. It brings together students as a group, who might not otherwise meet each another on campus because of their different interests and fields of study.

“I learned more about who I am as person, how to read other people, how to intervene and direct bad situations, how to work with others, and how to be a leader obviously. I learned to not judge stereotypes, but to learn their stories before making assumptions,” said Smart.

During the retreat, students participate in team building activities. One of which includes placing a student on a gurney and having the others carry them safely through an obstacle course.

“Sometimes they add an extra challenge to this activity, sometimes they only allow the participants to use one hand. This really enforces the need to be able to effectively communicate with the people you are working with,” said Sarber.

Dejianna Butler, freshman, was not sure what to expect when she arrived at the retreat because it was her first time attending this type of event.

“I learned that I have a lot of learning to do,” said Butler. “It is cool because I can apply the things I’ve learned to basketball.”

Coming together to learn about leadership helps build a stronger student environment.  Some students become more active on campus after returning form the retreat.

“I want the students to come away with a greater connection to the campus, even though we aren’t at the campus. Also, I want them to feel more connected to the other students,” said Sarah Sarber, dean of students.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

Story written by student writer Calani Hitchell. Calani is an intern in the Office of Media &


Last updated: 12/22/2014