LeaderShape Program Changes Lives

Posted on August 15, 2012 by Sally Mesarosh

When Shelby Prockish first heard about “LeaderShape” in his psychology class at Mesa Community College, he was intrigued.  After further inquiry, he was told by others who had experienced it that it was a fantastic experience, but inexplicable, unless you had been through it yourself.  This REALLY peaked his interest, so he enrolled in the 6-day LeaderShape Program to find out for himself.

Did he find their claims to be true?

“Absolutely,” Prockish said.  “You learn so much. Everyone’s experience is different, depending on the depth you want to take it.”

LeaderShape is an intense, action-packed program that is held at Central AZ College in Coolidge each June and attended by approximately 60 students from 9 of the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges. The program has been facilitated for university students around the country for over 25 years, but MCCCD is the only community college district that offers the program. Approximately 500 students have graduated from the program in the 8 years MCCCD has hosted it.

“The goal of LeaderShape is to create a group of leaders who are committed to leading with integrity, while having a healthy disregard for the impossible,” said Erica Horihan, a program specialist at MCC’s Red Mountain Campus. “It sets out to help the student understand their values, and to help them direct their passions by creating a vision statement for themselves.”

Horihan said a great deal of personal development occurs in both the students and staff during the 6-day program.

“They learn about themselves, about why it is important to lead with integrity, and to turn their passion into something bigger and greater to help their community,” Horihan stated. “I have seen this program literally change students’ lives.”

For Prockish, the most striking experience was a game in which each participant in a circle passed around an object and everyone had to touch it. When outside obstacles got in the way, it became very challenging.

“It demonstrates how things are thrown at you in life and how you learn to cope,” said Prockish, who has attended the program twice, once as a participant and once as a coordinator. “It’s not really a game, it’s a learning experience.”

Horihan tells a powerful story of how the program changed the life of one student during her first year with the program.

“We had an adult re-entry student with a severe stutter who on the first day asked not to be called on to answer questions in front of the group,” Horihan said.  “By the end of the week, she stood in front of 70 people and sang a song in her native Navajo language. She went to work the next week and her employers paid her for the entire week she was out because of the huge difference they saw in her.”

The student went on to do speaking presentations at national conferences discussing issues to the Native American community.  She then fulfilled her vision of supporting the transgender community by opening a half-way house for transgender teens in downtown Phoenix. 

Horihan said the student attributed her success to her participation in LeaderShape.

For Prockish, 28, the experience clarified his vision of bringing the students of two distinctly different MCC campuses—Red Mountain and Southern and Dobson—together in unified activities. He said the program helps him as he pursues a major in business and a minor in psychology while working in the Service Learning Office at MCC’s Red Mountain Campus.

“You can apply what you learn to your entire life,” Prockish said.  “Not just your career, but your family, your friends and your relationships. I think it’s an awesome experience for anyone, whether you are an extrovert or an introvert. No matter where you are on the spectrum, you are going to learn something.”

Students who are interested in the LeaderShape program can contact MCC’s Student Life and Leadership office at 480-461-7285 for the Southern and Dobson Campus, or 480-654-7759 for the Red Mountain Campus. There is no cost for students to attend. The next session is May 15-20, 2013. Application: http://tinyurl.com/maricopaleadershape2013

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