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The Leadership Circle—A Student Advisory Group

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The Van Loan School of Professional Studies has turned to its students for feedback, to enhance its programs, to better respond to its students’ needs, and to provide students with additional opportunities for personal and professional empowerment.
By: Rosemary Poppe

Innovative, experiential, supportive—each of these words describes Endicott—but moreover, they represent our students’ personal and academic attributes. For this reason, the Van Loan School of Professional Studies has turned to its students for feedback, to enhance its programs, to better respond to its students’ needs, and to provide students with additional opportunities for personal and professional empowerment.

Laura Douglass, Academic Dean of Professional Programs, Van Loan School, formed The Leadership Circle—a student advisory group—to utilize “student feedback as one of the primary mechanisms for deciding which events, programs, and challenges should be prioritized for a positive student experience.” Endicott’s first Leadership Circle was comprised of seven adult undergraduate students, nominated by academic directors from the Beverly, Boston Associates, Boston evening, and Online programs, for demonstrating exemplary leadership qualities. The first members of the organization include, Khadijah Pumarejo ’20, Victoria Garcia ’20, Caleb Rogers ’21, Michael Lydon ’20, Marisol Jimenez ’20, Andrea Campanini ’20, and Chris Olsen ’20.

Leadership Circle BadgeMembership within this program comes with responsibilities but it also comes with significant opportunities for growth. As a part of the program, each student received one hour of free executive coaching from Deirdre Sartorelli, Director, Colin and Erika Angle Center for Entrepreneurship, Assistant Dean, Curtis L. Gerrish School of Business. Sartorelli sent each student a copy of Discover Your Clifton Strengths, an assessment based tool which identifies one’s unique strengths and leadership style.

In her coaching sessions, she discussed ways in which each student could leverage their strengths and effectively progress toward their professional goals. She also provided members with a scholarship to attend the first inaugural, Endicott College & The Spark Collective’s, North Shore Women’s Inventure Conference, held February 29, 2020. Sartorelli says, “Working with our students on the Van Loan Leadership Circle was a source of inspiration for me. I saw that they cared for each other's success and learning. They understood how their semester long project would help ensure the success for current and future Van Loan students."

To learn more from their firsthand experience, each student spent one hour with Douglass, as she says, “to offer their insight into the school's strengths and areas for growth.” Their ideas and input will be considered when evaluating and adjusting Van Loan’s programs in the future. Additionally, the group was tasked with identifying a major initiative and executing on it, as a team. Sarah McMahon, Director, Organizational Management Program, Assistant Professor, functioned as the group’s academic coach, to support the team in the development and completion of their project. McMahon says, “Part of being a leader is exhibiting awareness, having foresight, and engaging in stewardship that promotes community development and growth”, and the team brought those words to life by creating an Unofficial Student Survival Guide, for Students by Students.

McMahon explains that the guide is “a resource for new Van Loan students—filled with the information they need to succeed. We’re not talking about class schedules and how to use your Endicott email. We’re talking about the real stuff: things you wish you knew earlier, tips for being a successful online student, advice for balancing school and life, recommendations on how to advocate for yourself, and more.” The team compiled a list of tools and practices which enabled them to be successful students, and shared it in three short videos, narrated by Caleb Rogers, Video 1, Video 2, & Video 3

This unique and empowering experience has served to develop our students’ innate leadership qualities, while also encouraging them to build on these skills, and give back to their Endicott community. Member, Dijah Pumarejo attended the Inventure conference in February and says that, “Participating in both the conference and in the Leadership Circle allowed me to recognize the similar and different needs of each student, before the start of their academic journey.” Member Victoria Garcia states that “Creating a way to help future Endicott College students—by offering them tips and tricks—fills my heart with joy! I am so blessed to be a part of a group of students who want the same thing—to help the next generation of Endicott gulls be the best version of themselves they can be.”

Rogers says, "When I was approached by my college advisor, Laura Douglass, to ask if I was interested in joining a leadership committee—after she felt I had expressed qualities of a leader,—I was honored. I take pride in working hard at this point in my life, so to have it recognized felt extremely good. I was able to work in a creative and collaborative fashion with the members of this committee. It was nice being able to show my capabilities within a team setting while having creative freedom in helping design this project. Everyone did a phenomenal job working as a team and I truly hope this project helps future and current students achieve success in school. I am very proud of this project."

The Van Loan School will continue to nominate students each year to participate in the Leadership Circle, to develop their innate skills, to create new enriching qualities, to enhance their academic and professional lives, and to help Endicott’s academic leaders improve the student experience. Learn more about the Van Loan School’s programs and explore more stories about our students, faculty, and staff.