Introducing the 2018 PLA Cohort & Welcoming the 2019 Cohort
By Erika Glover, 2017 Cohort
With each passing year since 1997, a new group of eager first-year college students joins the Sidney A. Ribeau President’s Leadership Academy. The 21st year of the President’s Leadership Academy was no different. Like those who came before them, the 2018 cohort is ready and full of so much potential for the times ahead of them at Bowling Green State University. They spent a majority of their summer on campus preparing them for the challenges of college and developing their leadership abilities and demonstrated them in their first year on campus. We are so excited to welcome the 2019 cohort and see the incredible and lasting impact that these scholars will have on the lives of many and on this campus!
2018 PLA Cohort Members: Connor Baumle | Tamiya Bender | Ryan Bissman | Gary Bradley | Lauryn Brown | Cieara Clark | Kellee Colon | Jordan Egbert | Joshua Ford | Jaamy Fountain | Hannah Hess | Nya Jerdine | Maddy Lyons | Francesca Marino | Crystal Martin | Nick Menster | Tori Pasquarette | Faith Pendleton | Kalinda Solomon | Jennifer Watley | Amani Wilson | Christopher Wilson
Nick Menster | 2018 Cohort
Summer Program or College Transition
I am so grateful to have had the opportunity not only to become a part of the newest cohort of the PLA, but also to spend a month of the summer on campus at a program designed specifically to help the incoming scholars become prepared and well-adjusted college students. My biggest takeaway from the summer program was that I should “trust the process,” as the PLA staff so frequently tells us. Coming into the program, I knew that I had been selected to be in a leadership program of some sort, and that it sounded like a neat way to get some involvement opportunities and some scholarship money. On move in day, I was the first scholar to arrive, and before I even had the chance to reach for the door, it was flung open and I was practically assaulted by a sea of smiles. I had never met another member of my cohort before move-in day, but right away, I felt a sense of camaraderie. The summer program, as most scholars will recall, was non-stop homework, service projects, and “optional” cohort bonding activities. It was exhausting, and I will never understand why Dr. Clemens hates naps with such a passion, but now I feel that the summer program prepared our cohort for the bustle of college life as a PLA scholar. Even though it was busy, it was made so much better by the twenty-one other scholars who were working through the same experience, Dr. Gonzalez made us all laugh, Lakeshia made us all cry, and Dunkin made us all donuts. My cohort is a truly amazing group, but we aren’t one of a kind. In fact, there are three other cohorts that we new kids are just getting to know with just as much passion and friendship as 2018, and that blows my mind. The PLA is a really special group, simultaneously fostering love and ambition, with a group of staff members and scholars who come together to create a huge falcon family.
Alyssa Tomins | 2017 Cohort
Reflection on Defining Passions First Year
College is a time for self-discovery and identifying one’s passions, but when I first walked onto BGSU’s campus as a first-year student, I felt like I didn’t even know where to start looking. Everyone around me seemed so sure of their majors, passions, and reasoning for pursuing what they loved. After a month of trying to be happy in with a major I didn’t care about and testing out various organizations that didn’t keep my interest, I knew I needed to make a change in the way I was approaching my first year of college. As scholars in the President’s Leadership Academy, there is a large emphasis during the summer program and first-year curriculum on values-exploration and identifying one’s strengths as a leader. While I had already established my personal values and identified my strengths, I had yet to genuinely examine how this information could lead me towards a more fulfilling path. I then spent a lot of time reflecting on how my values could define my passions, which led me to explore BGSU Votes. This student-led initiative strives to make our campus more civically and politically engaged through nonpartisan events, such as voter registration and education. I started volunteering with BGSU Votes my first semester and became an Ambassador in spring. Little did I know how much this initiative would inspire me to make a change on our campus. Once officially joining BGSU Votes, I learned the story Andrew Goodman, a college student who was lynched for registering African Americans to vote during the summer of 1964. The Andrew Goodman Foundation funds and supports voting-rights initiatives on various college campuses across the United States, including on our campus with BGSU Votes. This past summer, I had the privilege of attending the National Civic Leadership Training Summit hosted by the Andrew Goodman Foundation, and this was an inspiring experience. Being surrounded by hundreds of other student leaders who seek similar change on their campuses was critically helpful in understanding my purpose with BGSU Votes and AGF. I left this summit ready to tackle the problems BGSU faces with civic engagement, but I also gained so much clarity in terms of where my passion lies. I am so excited to see what change BGSU Votes can impact as we approach the upcoming midterm elections, and I am even more excited to see where this passion leads me.
Nijah Slaughter | 2016 Cohort
RM Summer Program
As a PLA Scholar who immensely enjoyed my summer program I thought I would be a great resource for the new cohort. During training week, I was nervous about how the new cohort would perceive me, how well I would handle difficult situations, and most importantly, how I would make an impact of these students’ lives. I enjoyed connecting with the scholars on a more intimate level, and PODs is where we provided scholars these personal interactions. I became really close with these five scholars and emphasized that I wanted to continue these relationships after the Summer Program was over.
I also enjoyed challenging the new cohort to step out of their comfort zone, and do things they have feared. I believe having students face their fears ignited personal growth in their lives and helped me grow as a leader. Now, as I step into my junior year it seems that I should be seasoned in my leadership style and confident about my leadership philosophies, but I always think there is room for positive change in a leader’s life. The PLA summer program has transformed me into a more empathetic patient leader. I have learned that people have their own traumas that I must be sensitive to. I learned to bring possible solutions to the table rather than asking others for results without giving them direction on what I am looking for. Lastly, I have learned that everyone needs a friend. Rather than jumping to new business during execute board meetings, debriefing about personal feelings and internal conflicts, will help run an effective, engaged, meeting.
I enjoyed working as a Resident Mentor to the 2018 cohort, and I hope I had an impact on each and every scholar’s life.
Last fall our scholars’ families had the opportunity to come up for an open house to meet other members of our PLAmily! There isn’t much better than Freddie and Frieda, Football and Falcon Family Weekend! This year PLA's Family Weekend Event will be on Saturday, October 12. Stay tuned for more details.
Like each new cohort to join the PLA, the 2018 Cohort had their summer program last July! It was a summer of personal growth, challenging perspectives, rope courses, and plenty of cohort bonding! We are so excited to see their skills put to work!
One of the many incredible opportunities that comes with being a PLA scholar is the PAL program! Each year an upperclassman is paired with a first year scholar to provide support and guidance in a mentor/mentee relationship! It is a requirement to take a picture on each PAL date, here are a few of our favorites!
2018 Fall Retreat
The 2015 Cohort planned and executed an incredible weekend for this year’s annual Fall Retreat. The year’s theme was Clue, where scholars were faced with the task of solving a mystery using their strengths and working together to apply concepts of diversity, inclusion, servant leadership, and critical thinking. These few days proved to be an amazing opportunity for scholars to strengthen relationships outside of their own cohort and within. We are so proud of 2015 for all the hard work they put into this successful retreat and we wish them all the best as Falcon Alumni!
Evening at the President’s House
Last fall President Rogers and Dr. Earl were kind enough to welcome the PLA into their home at the University House for an evening of holiday festivities. We found ourselves in song at the piano, in conversation in the kitchen, and sharing memories by the fire. Here are some of our favorite memories!
Gleaners Service Project in Detroit
On April 6, the PLA went to Gleaners Food Bank in Detroit with President Rogers and Dr. Earl! Scholars had the opportunities to package food, break down crates and boxes and organize stock. Together, we packed 45,000 pounds of food for more than 32,000 people!
Once a month, all the scholars and staff get together from forum on a Friday evening. This year we have had a few special guests and fun events! At the beginning of the year, Dr. Ribeau visited and shared some wisdom with us, later in the semester, Leon Bibb and Ellen Connally spoke about their experience, and mixed in with plenty of reflections and discussion, the seniors had their superlatives.
Each year the senior cohort plans a colloquium highlighting and reflecting on the accomplishments and memories from their past four years. At the banquet, awards are also given out for outstanding effort and service to the BGSU community. This year, the 2015 Cohort had their time to take the stage and they did not disappoint. You will be missed, 2015!
- Jacob Clemens, Associate Dean of Students, PLA 1:1 Advisor
- Val Erwin, Doctoral Graduate Assistant, PLA 1:1 Advisor, PLA Cohort Advisor – 2019 Cohort
- Andrea Hauser, Doctoral Graduate Assistant, PLA 1:1 Advisor, PLA Cohort Advisor – 2018 Cohort
- Megan Arnold, Assistant Dean of Students for New Student Orientation, PLA 1:1 Advisor, PLA Cohort Advisor – 2016 Cohort
- Lakeshia Dowlen, PLA 1:1 Advisor, 2017 Cohort Advisor
Scholar Staff & Interns
- Maddy Lyons, Service
- Joshua Ford & Rashard Thomas, PLA Onboarding
- Lauryn Brown, Public Relations & Social Media
- Savannah Hinde & Nick Menster, Forums
- Seth Crosby & Amani Wilson, Thompson Meetings
- Christopher Wilson & Tori Pasquarette, Teaching Assistants for LEAD 1000
- Xavi Boes, Seth Crosby, & Sarah Kittner, Resident Mentors for the 2019 Summer Program