During the 2021-2022 school year, Clarke University launched its new Future Women in Leadership Cohort, granting 13 aspiring student leaders access to unique professional development opportunities offered through Clarke’s CareerPLUS program, as well as guidance from mentors and instructors. This pilot program was generously underwritten by Clarke Alumna Mary Jean Jecklin ’69.
Each participant was nominated for the program by a university employee. They then took part in a series of online courses, a leadership assessment, a session with a leadership coach, and networking opportunities that students were able to complete alongside their regular coursework.
Jaida Kroning ’22 is a Social Work major and took part in the Women in Leadership Cohort while completing her final year of classes at Clarke. She found that she was able to apply much of what she learned in her daily life.
I have been able to apply things I’ve learned in my work with the Riverview Center and the Boys and Girls Club, as well as student activities like the Clarke Association of Student Athletes,” Kroning said. “These courses helped me self-evaluate and identify leadership traits I knew I had, while also discovering new ones. Clarke has always had this holistic approach to helping me develop as a student and as a person, and this program has been a nice way to cap off that experience.
Capitalizing on micro courses in the University’s CareerPLUS catalog, the participants explored topics including “Developing the Leader Within,” “Understanding Diversity to Build Empathy,” and “Courageous Conversations.” Mariann Kurtz Weber, who is the also the Business and Community Liaison for Clarke University, facilitated one of the micro courses offered through the Future Women in Leadership program.
“By taking these three courses as a group, the students were able to not only learn from the instructors, but from one another,” said Kurtz Weber. “The cohort provides a supportive atmosphere and gives these students critical leadership experience that can help them stand apart from other applicants as they apply for jobs or to graduate school.”
As for Mary Jean, she was thrilled to see the program she piloted come to life and connect students to these valuable resources.
“Developing leadership skills in women is important. When Courtney Leonard, Executive Director of Development, suggested underwriting this new program, I anticipated this would be a valuable growth opportunity for students,” Mary Jean said. “From the “thank you” notes I received at the end of the seminars; I am delighted this proved true. The participants confirmed they are better prepared to be current and future leaders. Such a wonderful, positive result.”
Leadership micro courses are also available to the public through the CareerPLUS program. More information on these and other professional development offerings can be found at clarke.edu/careerplus.