Telling Our Story

The Marvin Center for Student Leadership is dedicated to support the BGSU community. In alignment with the university's Focus on the Future Strategic Plan, we would like to highlight some BGSU students, staff, faculty, and alumni.

Head shot of Harry Watts.

Watts helps facilitate first Fall Leadership Conference

Brian Geyer | Marvin Center for Student Leadership

Marvin Center graduate assistant Harry Watts helped facilitate the Fall Leadership Conference, which was held virtually on Zoom, Saturday, Nov. 7.

The Fall Leadership Conference was created for the 2020 school year as a virtual option to the Leadership Academy offered by the Marvin Center for Student Leadership in previous years.

“We wanted to create something that students could participate in and learn something, but still aligned with our values and allowed for an exciting day,” Watts said.

The Leadership Academy, which the Fall Leadership Conference was modeled after, used personal knowledge and experiences, leadership experts, along with small-group discussions to foster a positive environment to learn about leadership skills. 

The Marvin Center of Student Leadership prides itself in being a place where leadership is learned. The Fall Leadership Conference is no different, allowing students to reflect on personal values and different leadership styles.

“Taking the time to reflect is a cornerstone of leadership development. Before you can help others, you must help yourself. Helping yourself starts with understanding yourself,” Watts said.

In preparation for the conference, Watts and other campus partners put communication on the forefront to successful training sessions. Watts said staying positive and having a space to make mistakes made all the difference in successfully creating the event.

The conference involved different panels in which alumni and other campus partners shared their success at BGSU, creating a space for students to make their own career goals. Watts said he hopes the conference was able to instill students with professional development and leadership competences. The hope from Watts and the Marvin Center is for students to not just become students in their field of study but on campus as well.

“The program helped provide a unique opportunity - in that students got to attend a conference as undergraduate students. I know in my undergrad career, I never had the option to attend a conference, so I believe this was a great opportunity for students’ development as they navigate their own career paths,” Watts said.

Selected sessions from the 2020 Fall Leadership Conference can be found on the Marvin Center’s YouTube channel.

photo of Olivia wearng a black and white polka dots top

Virtual ELC provides self-paced leadership

Brian Geyer | Marvin Center for Student Leadership

Graduate Student Olivia Burkholder graduated with her bachelor’s degree at BGSU in spring 2020, during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Burkholder started the Ethical Leadership Certificate as something to do as social-distancing measures were being put into place.

The Ethical Leadership Certificate (ELC) is a program facilitated through the Marvin Center of Student Leadership that focuses on integrity and purpose as a leader. The program puts an emphasis on personal values, ethical decision-making and changing society. The ELC is virtual and self-paced, giving students a format that fits their own schedule.

“I really enjoyed the self-pace especially with all of the videos uploaded. It made it different modalities of learning. We did reflections along with the videos to critically think about the material that I really understood,” Burkholder said.

The Marvin Center believes leadership is learned, which is reflected throughout the ELC.

“You don’t have to be in a high position to be a leader. You can be a leader within your community or organization by creating steps to create change,” Burkholder said. “It’s something that’s really misconstrued in society. We all say, ‘they’re born to be a leader,’ but really, it’s the opposite. We’re learned into these positions. We can always work to be a better leader.”

The ELC sessions helped Burkholder identify her core values and develop a mission statement she could reflect on, making the mission statement her favorite part of the sessions. She said it was important to also reflect on how your values are different from other people.

“(The ELC) has definitely helped me through the start of my graduate program because I’m not always going to have the same values as a student or someone who I’m counseling or working with. Knowing that, looking through a multi-cultural lens when I’m working with people is really going to help further my process of being a leader and actually create an impact on that student’s life if I can see things a little bit differently.”

To Burkholder, leadership training is important. Her belief is the training is applicable to all different phases and aspects of life – whether it’s in a business, organization or community. Leaders are found everywhere.

“When we have this knowledge and ability to be leaders – that’s when we create positive change within our communities,” she said. “I think it’s really important to have that knowledge and a multi-cultural lens and a really strong sense of self, so we don’t impose our own values on people.”

For Burkholder, it’s about further contributing to society and whatever community a person finds themselves in.

image of student

Dietrich achieves with Center of Leadership programs

Brian Geyer | Marvin Center for Student Leadership

Fifth-year psychology and English student Kelsey Dietrich attended the Inclusive Leadership Certificate two years ago. This was her first certificate with the Marvin Center of Student Leadership.

The Marvin Center of Student Leadership’s programs range from social justice leadership, ethical leadership and inclusive leadership certificates, all with the goal to achieve true leadership abilities.

“I did the Inclusive Leadership and I was in the first class when they started the Social Justice Certificate – which is kind of cool – and then last spring I did the Ethical Leadership,” Dietrich said.

Dietrich had always been involved on campus. She founded a yoga club and is a peer educator within the Wellness Connection on campus. Yet, Dietrich said it was easy for her to go through the motions of her organizations.  

The Marvin Center’s certificate programs helped solidify and identify her values, allowing her to align her actions with them.

“These programs actually made me take a step and realize: ‘What do I see in myself as being a leader? What do I strive for as a leader? How do I see other people being leaders?’ – and how to actually incorporate that instead of just forgetting about it,” Dietrich said.

During these certificates, participants work on different activities that focus on developing a better sense of self and belonging. Dietrich said the moment that stands out the most to her was within the Social Justice certificate in which she said she had to reflect on her identities. Each person throughout the session wrote out a paragraph expanding on their identities and values.

“We then shared them out loud - that was a really reflective for me,” Dietrich said. “It was really powerful to hear other people’s little paragraphs.”

These programs have helped shaped Dietrich’s life. Her involvement with the Marvin Center of Student Leadership has helped her become a more outspoken person she said.

“I used to be very quiet in my beginning years – even to the beginning of my fourth year. These spaces that are held through the Marvin Center really allow everyone to have a voice and to find their voice. If someone is nervous or doesn’t like public speaking or doesn’t want to have an opinion – that’s okay, I’ve been there. These spaces are safe and inclusive, and you can start to dip your toes into speaking in front of others,” Dietrich said.


Joyce to facilitate Inclusive Leadership Certificate

Brian Geyer | Marvin Center for Student Leadership

Second year student Javana Joyce was introduced to the Inclusive Leadership Certificate through campus update last year.

The Inclusive Leadership Certificate is a program offered by the Marvin Center for Student Leadership and the Office of Multicultural Affairs. The program’s goals are to help a student develop the attitudes, knowledge and skills for inclusive leadership in an increasingly diverse world.

“The ILC to me is a program that is really eye-opening with general education on privilege, power, the system, and identities – everything all at once,” Joyce said. “It’s a general ‘here’s what goes on in the world.’”

Joyce said she thought she was knowledgeable before completing the ILC but learned a lot more than expected. The program made her think and reflect on the knowledge she already knew.

“It made me feel like a better advocate and a better leader,” Joyce said.

She said the course enabled her to have conversations about social justice issues and advocate for those things effectively.

Since taking the course, Joyce has committed to being a student leadership assistant and facilitating the ILC herself, crediting the SLA who facilitated her session for her passion in social justice.  

Joyce said she believes the ILC is about an education that never stops.

“Even if you think you know, you do not know everything and there’s no way you can know everything; So why not get a certificate and have this program under your belt? Education never stops.”

The Inclusive Leadership Certificate session will begin on Thursday, Oct. 8 at 6:00 p.m. and will continue weekly until Nov. 19. The registration form can be found at