Students put their leadership abilities to the test in global competition

By Christian McCarville

Developing a sense of leadership is foundational for many different careers and life opportunities. The Collegiate Leadership Competition (CLC) gives students from around the world the opportunity to showcase their leadership skills and compete against other strong leaders.

Associate Director of the Center for the Development of Leadership Skills Laura Seplaki coaches a small group of Rider students to compete each year in the CLC.

“The CLC was created to provide an opportunity for leadership educators to coach a team, teach leadership skills through CLC terms and concepts, to bring various teams together for them to compete with each other,” said Seplaki.

Rider’s CLC team consists of six students: junior arts and entertainment industries management major Katie Blanton, junior accounting major LeeAnna Alpert, sophomore organizational psychology major Amanda Marrazzo, sophomore management major Lindsey Mulrooney, freshman elementary education major Kayla Kanarkowski and freshman arts and entertainment industries management major Megyn Kukulka.

Kukulka, a new addition to the team, explained why she was interested in competing in the CLC.

“As a freshman and new member of the Leadership Development Program I was looking for ways to continue to improve my leadership skills and meet new people,” said Kukulka. “As soon as I met my fellow teammates, I knew I was in the right place.”

This year, the CLC has gone fully remote, providing new opportunities as well as new challenges.

“In the past, we would meet at the University of Delaware and that would be our competition day,” said Seplaki. “All of the teams came together in the region, usually about ten or so teams. Going virtual, there are about 30 teams competing.”

This new virtual setting greatly widened the competition, but the team rose to the challenge.

“The one thing I love about the team this year is that, despite going virtual, they’ve been really cohesive,” said Seplaki. “They are really dedicated and push themselves to do even more.”

In the weeks leading up to the global finals, the team had to complete three different challenges to earn points. Points were earned based not only on the result of the challenge, but also on the leadership and collaborative processes used.

Seplaki began coaching the team by meeting with them once a week and teaching them the CLC terms and concepts. In the Knowledge Challenge, the team had to use these terms and concepts to respond to a variety of questions. Overall, they completed this challenge with a perfect score of 100 points.

The Spot Challenge required the team to work collaboratively and intelligently.

They were asked to buy a package of Oreos and stack them. The more Oreos successfully stacked, the more points earned. The team finished this challenge with a total of 80 points.

The Impact Challenge was where the team was able to truly showcase its abilities.

For this challenge, each team had to create a social media campaign and hold virtual events to support the campaign.

The Rider team used the FaceBook platform to develop the “Broncs Choose to Include” campaign. The team members partnered with the Unified Sports club to bring awareness to the values of diversity, equity and inclusion.

The social media campaign was shared throughout the university, building a strong following. Blanton commented on the success of the team’s campaign.

“This was the first time we were all given the opportunity to put our leadership skills to the test on a digital platform and, through this semester alone, we were able to create a digital campaign with over 500 followers, present a virtual event on the importance of positive interactions with those with disabilities, as well as take on several leadership challenges,” said Blanton. “I am so thankful for my team and everything we accomplished and this experience is something I will never forget.”

Going into the global finals, Rider’s team had already amassed a significant amount of points. The team would have to complete two more activities during the finals, and then its final placement in the competition would be determined.

On April 10, the team competed in the global finals, scoring enough points to finish in 6th place out of 30 teams. This was an incredible achievement for the team and Seplaki was proud of her team of leaders.

“They did such an amazing job because of the wonderful team synergy they developed,” said Seplaki.

The team had also chosen to award Kukulka as Most Improved Player and Mulrooney as Most Valuable Player.

With an impressive final placement, Seplaki was mainly grateful to have the opportunity to compete and have the team develop their skills as leaders.

“One of the mottos in CLC is: There will be one winner and lots of learners,” said Seplaki. “I think that’s the point of it all. That’s why I love competing in the CLC because no matter what, we are learning, we are winning.”

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