Bolstering scholarship

Hauenstein Center accepting nominations, applications for Cook Leadership Academy

By Kyle Doyle | 2/22/17 9:22pm

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A strong leader is someone who is willing to take risks for the betterment of the majority. A passionate leader is someone who takes the time to listen to those whom they are leading and takes all of their opinions into consideration. A wise leader weighs their options and thinks through a decision, instead of acting on pure impulse.

The Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University is striving to mold young leaders to have those qualities in its Peter C. Cook Leadership Academy (CLA), which is now accepting nominations and applications for membership in its ranks.

The CLA is accepting nominations and applications from students from now through Tuesday, March 21. The CLA is looking for any person from any field who exhibits exceptional leadership qualities and only wants to build upon them more.

“We take students from across the university who are at different levels in their academic attainment who are generally successful but are from different majors all over the campus," said Chadd Dowding, senior program manager at the CLA. "(We) bring them together into a cohesive cohort and have them work on their leadership and professional development."

The cohort Dowding described is comprised of 60-plus undergraduates at GVSU who have the traits described above and who hope to grow and nurture their leadership skills through the programs provided by both the Hauenstein Center and the CLA.

Those involved in the CLA have a wide range of opportunities and events in which they can participate and use to improve themselves as leaders. These events include the Wheelhouse Talks, a series of lectures put on by local leaders to share their leadership experiences; the Common Ground Initiative, a program that brings together conservatives and progressives in an effort to promote understanding of and collaboration with the other side; a mentorship program; and much more.

The mentorship program pairs a fellow of the CLA with a mentor who is a successful leader from somewhere in the greater Grand Rapids area. The pair meets six times over the course of the academic year to work on developing skills.

Being able to connect with an individual in the professional community who can really help them grow and can support them is one of the aspects most of the students really enjoy, Dowding said. It offers them a chance to become better.

The talks and mentors are not all that make the program what it is. The CLA also offers opportunities to travel to different places in the U.S. to meet with executives from companies and the United States federal government.

One of the bigger trips involves the fellows traveling to Washington, D.C., to talk about the intersection of government policy and business.

“This was kind of an immersive experience for a handful of Cook fellows that had the opportunity to go and learn first-hand from leaders in government, in the nonprofit world and in business how democracy works on a level like that,” said Scott St. Louis, the program manager for the Common Ground Initiative and a former Cook fellow. “It was really exciting.”

Dowding said the CLA also offers a sense of fraternity among its members that is almost family-like.

Both Dowding and St. Louis encourage interested parties to seek nomination from a professor or apply alone at hauensteincenter.org/applycla/. St. Louis said it’s an experience that individuals don’t want to miss out on.

“It’s the culminating experience of a liberal education for students here at Grand Valley,” St. Louis said. “It’s something that teaches you how to take what you’re learning in the classroom and apply it to real-world (situations) in an ethical and effective way.”

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