March 11, 2016
The LEADS (Lead, Engage, Achieve, Discover, Succeed) Conference brings together members of online honor societies, student organizations, and student advisory, as well as Peer Leaders, with a goal of enhancing academic potential, gaining new leadership skills, and exploring opportunities for professional development and advancement.
Conference co-chair Laura Corddry, senior director of Student Success in the College of Online and Continuing Education (COCE), says that she and her team took a tracked approach to building the program this year, giving attendees the opportunity to zero in on some of the most frequently requested online student services: leadership development, academic achievement, and career preparation. This required the team to collaborate with departments across the University, including partnerships with SNHU Career, Academic Advising, and the Office of Alumni Engagement.
“We took the feedback from last year’s participants very seriously when we sat down to plan the 2016 event,” Corddry says. “Other than Commencement, this is the largest gathering of online students throughout the entire year, and we really want to give them the opportunities they crave.”
Not surprisingly, those opportunities revolve around connecting with fellow students and ensuring their studies are relevant in the job market. This year’s sessions were facilitated by SNHU staff and faculty, as well as outside experts like Marc Williams ’15 and Donna Williams, the CEO and president, respectively, of TMT Services International, an organization dedicated to guiding clients through common challenges to achieve growth and success. Marc Williams recently completed a Bachelor’s degree in General Studies with SNHU, so his attendance and presentation on career success was especially personal and powerful.
Other session highlights included: Be a Leader, Not a Dictator; Resume & Interviewing Success Strategies; Making Moral Choices; Conflict Competence; Navigating Career Change and Advancement; and Tips for Educational Success.
David Numme ’16, a course technology specialist at Dartmouth College, presented two sessions of Tips for Educational Success. Numme completed his MBA in February, and says that building a professional network and a personal brand were vital elements to his success in an online learning environment. He focused his presentation on the many ways students can connect with each other and explore leadership opportunities in their COCE program.
“Looking back at my first few terms, I was just plodding along, trying to figure out how to make the most of my experience. My ‘ah ha!’ moment came when I started to get involved and make friends outside of the virtual classroom. You pour over discussion boards as a student, and you get out of your academic experience what you put into it; the same principle applies for building relationships. SNHUconnect, the online student union, gives students the chance to interact and feel connected outside of their schoolwork.”
In addition to facilitating his sessions, Numme also had the honor of introducing keynote speaker and SNHU alumna Beth-Ann Roberts ’91, senior vice president of regional markets at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. Roberts spoke about her experience at SNHU’s Salem Center, a tight-knit satellite location in southern NH that caters mostly to working adults and nontraditional learners who wish to pursue a degree on their own schedules, but in classroom settings.
Roberts’ message resonated with Numme, who says her SNHU experience twenty years ago still represents many of today’s students. “She was working full time and about to have a child while she was going after her degree. Many of us in the room are similarly pulled in different directions, and she had wonderful, practical advice for us to persist and succeed.”
Gary Aviles, president of Miami-based Request Path Media, will graduate this spring with his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Technology with a minor in Social Media Marketing. Aviles attended the COCE LEADS conference as a member of SNHU’s chapter of the National Society for Leadership and Success (NSLS); he has been a peer mentor in NSLS and an active member of SNHUconnect. “The main highlight of this conference, for me, was finally getting to meet face-to-face all the people I’ve gotten to know over SNHUconnect for the last two years.”
Tiffany Fifer, conference co-chair, director of Online Engagement in COCE and the mastermind behind SNHUconnect, agrees with Aviles that these in-person connections were the most exciting thing about the conference. “This is what my colleagues and I talk about all the time; this is what our work is based on: how do we give online students opportunities to connect in meaningful ways, when they rarely, if ever, get to meet in person? It all came together at COCE LEADS. It was incredible to see.”
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