LeaderShape Institute provides transformative experience for students

Megan Fleming
April 24, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s LeaderShape Institute is preparing for its annual summer conference, which provides an immersive and transformative experience for its participants.

The LeaderShape Institute is a six-day intensive retreat that gives students the opportunity to create meaningful interactions with their peers while focusing on three aspects of leadership: vision, teamwork and leading with integrity. The institute is coordinated by Student Engagement Programs, a unit of Student Affairs.

“LeaderShape is a transformative process for participants,” Kerri Musick, the graduate assistant for service and leadership, said. “It's really centric on ‘who am I,’ ‘who am I within the context of others,’ and ‘what am I going to do with that.’”

Musick said the coordinators are intentionally vague when they talk about LeaderShape. Even this year’s 65 participants will not receive an agenda until they arrive on site.  

“The idea is that if we give you the agenda up front and tell you exactly what's going to happen, you're not entering with a mindset of being present and ready for anything.’” Musick said.

Each of the six days of the institute has a theme. LeaderShape begins with “Building Community,” followed by "The Value of One, The Power of All," "Challenging What Is, Looking To What Could Be," "Bringing Vision To Reality," "Living and Leading With Integrity,” and finally "Staying in Action."

At the conclusion of the institute, participants will be able to: increase their commitment to acting consistently with core ethical values, personal values, and convictions; enhance their capability to develop and enrich relationships as well as strengthening their commitment to respecting the dignity and contributions of all people; embrace the belief in a healthy disregard for the impossible; and develop the capacity to produce extraordinary results.

The 2017 LeaderShape Institute will take place from May 8-13 at Camp Blue Diamond in Petersburg, Pennsylvania. 

Planning for the annual institute begins right after the previous retreat is over. LeaderShape identifies what did and did not go well and then selects two students to serve in on-site coordinator roles to facilitate planning the following institute.

The on-site coordinators are past participants that do behind the scenes work alongside Musick to make the LeaderShape Institute successful.

“The experience for me was pretty transformative,” said Kyleigh Higie, one of this year’s on-site coordinators. “I left with a much more broad understanding of Penn State and a much more broad understanding of the diverse students that we have here.”

“I would say that if you're willing to give a week of your time, there's probably no better way that I could think to spend it,” Higi said. “No matter where you are in your college experience, it is worth your time and it will change you not only in your Penn State experience but the way you approach your life after college ,too.”

LeaderShape is not just for student leaders. Musick said it's also for students who are aspiring to learn how to listen to their own voice more and maybe or maybe not prepare to step into larger roles on campus in the future.

“LeaderShape is for anyone who wants to come in with an open mind,” Musick said. “Anyone who is looking to the best version of themselves.”

LeaderShape is a national nonprofit that has programs at different places across the country. To learn more about Penn State’s institute, visit its website

Last Updated April 25, 2017