Beacon Leadership Project: Leaders at the Point

Students of the Beacon Leadership Project

Students of the Beacon Leadership Project

Natalia Cooper

After weeks of near drought conditions, the Boston area caught a battering of rain last Thursday. The much-needed storms caused some UMass Boston students to spend the day playing in the mud … sort of.

Eighteen students participating in the Beacon Leadership Project at UMB were on Thompson’s Island for their second day of orientation into the year-long program. The first day was spent indoors here on campus doing “getting-to-know-you” exercises and receiving a general overview of the program.

Joyce Morgan, director of Student Life, described the students’ day on the island as a “compassionate challenge.” The excursion to the island was just one piece of what Morgan calls experiential learning. She also said she “didn’t hear a peep of complaint” from the students as they braved the mud and rain. To her, that shows how the BLP students are “good sports” as well as being dedicated.

The Beacon Leadership Project is a year-long program offered to undergraduates who maintain a GPA of at least 2.5, CPCS students with at least ten competencies, and graduate students with at least a 3.0 GPA and no more than 18 credits are all eligible to apply for the program.

The year-long program boasts six credits, the first semester consists of coursework, and the instructors are called facilitators as opposed to the more formal title of professor. The second semester fills the experiential learning part of the project. It is during the second semester that students, either as individuals or in small groups, work on a service learning/community action project. The service learning component of BLP gives students a chance to plan and implement community actions using the skills they develop in the first semester’s coursework.

The literature available on this program boasts an “individualized professional mentorship” where students are “matched with an appropriate local leader.” The students then work with their mentors to develop goals and activities.

Student trustee Heather Dawood is one participant in this program. Over her three years at UMB she developed an interest in community service action plans and social marketing. Dawood plans to use the things she learns in this program to use in her Breast Cancer activism. “BLP gives me an opportunity to put all of my Breast Cancer Awareness campaign on campus,” Dawood said.

Dawood is also excited about the fact that the students in this program work together for the whole year as opposed to just one semester. “The students have a real commitment to the program and we’re all working toward similar goals,” she said.

The application process for next year’s BLP doesn’t start until the Spring semester, when the call for nominations and applications are announced. For more information contact [email protected] or call the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs at (617) 287-5800.