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BSC Developing Leadership Skills that Benefit Region, State & Nation

  • Created
    Monday, February 02 2009
  • Created by
    Jim Nelson/Media Relations - (304) 327-4103
Students in the Emerging Leaders’ Institute
(ELI) at Bluefield State College have enjoyed a
productive academic year.  Pictured during their
recent trip to Winston-Salem State University are
ELI representatives (Front Row- L to R) Micah
Blanks, Karen Hargrave, Ophelia Sims
(ELI Administrative Assistant),
Sylvia Taylor (Back Row- L to R)
Linda Trigg (ELI Director), Howard
Coston, and Christina Smyre.)

(Bluefield)—The Emerging Leaders’ Institute (ELI) at Bluefield State College received an energizing infusion of new students this academic year and, as a result, the ELI students are actively developing their leadership skills, academic proficiency, and commitment to community.

ELI was established at Bluefield State College several years ago to provide African-American students majoring in NASA-related activities with opportunities for leadership development through a comprehensive program based in leadership theory and practice.  The program stresses civic service and academic productivity, while stressing ethical responsibilities of individuals and organizations.  Under the direction of Dr. Felica Wooten Blanks (ELI Executive Director) and Linda Trigg (ELI Director), ELI selected seven BSC students to participate in this year’s program.  The ELI class of 2008-09 includes Javon Carpenter, Howard Coston, Karen Hargrave, Edmond Smith, Christina Smyre, Sylvia Taylor, and Kristen Williams.

During the fall semester, ELI participants attended a presentation by Sundi Lofty, script writer for TV ONE, conducted a field trip to Winston-Salem State University, and took part in leadership workshops presented by Dr. Michael Henry.  They also completed workshops presented by Dr. Blanks, focusing upon basic qualitative research methods and focus group methods.   “The students have learned a tremendous amount,” noted Trigg, who also serves as a faculty member in the College’s School of Engineering Technology & Computer Science.  “They’re very interested in volunteering and giving back to the community.”

Each ELI student will now mentor at least 10 pre-collegiate students to encourage their interest in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics, according to Blanks.  “Our students are presenting to students identified through the Wade Center and area community-based organizations,” she explained.  “Additionally, they can also work with adults who haven’t attended college.”

“After gaining knowledge regarding research methods and developing an understanding of the processes for collecting data during the fall semester, Emerging Leaders’ Institute students will conduct behavioral research projects involving qualitative research methods this semester,” Blanks added.

Since the programs establishment at BSC in 2001, every ELI participant has graduated from the College.  “We expect the same 100% graduation rate from this year’s cohort,” the ELI executive director observed.

The Emerging Leaders’ Institute has gained statewide recognition by the NASA-West Virginia Space Grant Consortium and serves as a model for similar programs being studied and replicated at other institutions of higher education in West Virginia.