After five semesters of being a Peer Facilitator at the Barger Leadership Institute, I can confidently say that every iteration of our class has taught me something new. In my first year at the BLI, I remember hearing the phrase “Feedback is Love” a lot. As student staff, we had several check-ins with our Program Manager and were able to share our experiences on the job. I remember sharing that we should have an extended version of our one-credit mini-course where students could dive deeper into their project and explore the foundations of leadership through an action-based learning concept. This semester, I was able to be a part of our first ever 3-credit course doing exactly that. 

Over 16 weeks, I was able to work with students on projects ranging from food insecurity to mentorship programs. While most of our teaching concepts in this iteration of ALA 175 were similar, we were able to spend a lot more time in our groups to Pause and Reflect. First, we clarified our assumptions of target audiences using stakeholder interviews and techniques such as 5 whys. I was able to see groups take their time with their approach and really analyze the root of each problem. Teams also had the opportunity to learn from each other in cross-functional teams across the semester and build community value. Most importantly, as a Peer Facilitator, I was able to develop deeper relationships with our class. If there’s anything I have learned about leadership, it is that it cannot be done effectively without vulnerability. Students were able to take some time to reflect on the intersection of their personal experiences and their project. Through case studies and guest speakers, I had the opportunity to learn about several leadership styles and how uniquely effective they can be. Even though I was in the position of being a peer facilitator, I often found myself in the seats of a student - taking notes, listening, and observing.

After a remote year due to COVID-19, this semester’s three-credit class was a truly humbling experience. I frequently asked myself: What do I have to set aside in order to be a hundred percent present today? And this includes acknowledging the fact that you cannot be at your most present and engaged every single time. Sharing that with my peers is vulnerability. And my fellow peer facilitators supporting me, is leadership.