BLP summit promotes leadership growth in students

Abigail Lowrie, Layout Manager


Each fall, the first phase of the Benedictine Leaders Program teaches new students what it takes to be a Benedictine leader, following our core themes of community, service, reason and faith. This year, speakers included Katie Wieliczkiewicz (community), Dr. John Hopkins (reason), Angela Carlin (faith), and Dr. Jeff Crane (service) to give us their perspective on what it means to lead through these four core values, and wrapped up the six week course explaining how they are all interconnected when it comes to leadership.

The spring semester hosts BLP phase 2, a full day of leadership learning, workshops, and discussion, with your fellow peers to have a better understanding of your own personal leadership styles, and how to use your personal talents to contribute to the common good. Sophomore, Madelyn Laskowski, explained, “BLP to me, means that we are shaping the future. It is a place where we can develop our own leadership style and find out more about our own leadership. It’s definitely a place where ideas are welcome and can be bounced off of.”

This year the keynote speaker was Danielle Roberts from the University Engagement team at Catholic Relief Services (CRS), based in Baltimore. Her message focused on ethical means of consumption, and considering the impact of every single action that you make including the good and bad. Roberts started her speech with a story about her time spent in El Salvador, and working with families high in the mountains, who did not have direct access to clean drinking water. A truck would come on a random schedule to fill each families water bucket, but if they couldn’t afford it at the time, they would miss their chance at clean water for an unknown period of time. Roberts began to investigate how much the water cost, assuming it was a pricey item, considering so many families went without it. When she discovered that it was only $5 to fill their bucket, her instant reaction was “I have $5 in my pocket, I’m sure everyone in this group has $5. Why don’t we just give them each $5 or even $20?” assuming she’d found the solution to their water problem. It is this kind of service thinking that continues the cycle of living for these families, Roberts explained, quick fix solutions are not ones that are long lasting and don’t address the systematic problems at hand.

Student leaders were handed a piece of paper with 4 grids with the letter P, A, C, and T. We closely examined the meaning of each letter and how it relates to our leadership both in our community and globally. P meaning pause, encouraging us to step back and consider the affect our actions will have. A meaning assume that you are wrong, you can not enter someone else’s culture and simply give them what you assume that they need, you must integrate yourself into their culture, engage with the people, and begin to learn and understand what they need, not just what you assume is the problem. C meaning creativity and joy, service is not about deprivation but what can you change or do better in your day to day activities, and thinking about how you can do things in a new way while still meeting your needs and bringing happiness. T meaning together, how can you share an experience or make it easier for others? Think about advocating, education, and passion, the butterfly effect.

Speaking about their interpretations of Roberts’ speech, Carlin, Hopkins and Wieliczkiewicz hosted a panel discussion to emphasize the importance of what we heard, and how we can apply it to our Saint Martin’s community. Wieliczkiewicz discussed how Roberts’ message fit perfectly with Saint Martin’s Year of Community, explaining, “we cannot build a community without knowing who is in the space, contributing their talent to the cause. If you are going to live a life of joy, we need to see the beauty in every day and every person. We have so many battles to fight but we can’t do everything, having a community means that you can divide up the work that needs to be done, and conquer.”

The symbolic ending to the Benedictine Leader Program Summit is the pinning ceremony. Father Kilian joined Angela Carlin in blessing the pins, prior to presenting them to newly distinguished Benedictine Leaders.

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