Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Full Circle

Towson University recently celebrated its 10 Year Anniversary partnering with LeaderShape to offer the Institute at their institution. We are excited to highlight some history and personal experiences from administrators, participants, and facilitators in this blog series.

This post is from Darcy Accardi, the Assistant Director of the Baltimore Collegetown Network, a consortium of 14 colleges and universities in the Baltimore region. She is a graduate of Towson University, where she participated in LeaderShape as a student, and the University of Maryland. Her favorite LeaderShape saying: “Have a healthy disregard for the impossible!”

10 years. It has been a little over 10 years since I went through the Institute program as a junior at Towson University (I’ll date myself!). I had no idea the impact that week would have on me as a person and also in my life’s journey- which continues to be a work in progress!

I was a graduate of the first campus-based LeaderShape Institute at Towson. On campuses where LeaderShape has been around for several years, students are clamoring to be accepted into the program. I didn’t have the experience of previous graduates telling me that the Institute would be a “life-changing experience” or “I can’t explain it, you just have to do it” as so many students hear about the program at Towson today. (This year TU hosted 2 Institutes because the demand is so high!) While I was interested in attending back in 2005, I really was not prepared for the amazing growing, learning, and bonding experience that is the Institute. For me the Institute week planted a seed that would continue to grow over the next several years.

After graduation I worked at Towson University for five years, developing a new Civic Engagement department. During that time I was a LeaderShape cluster facilitator for the Towson campus session and also for the first Baltimore Collegetown LeaderShape Institute. While I worked at Towson in Civic Engagement, I helped draft the proposal for the Baltimore Collegetown LeaderShape program, so it was an honor to be a Cluster Facilitator for the first Collegetown session of the Institute. (Towson University is a member of the 14-campus Baltimore Collegetown network.)

Being a Cluster Facilitator was a powerful experience for me. Helping students identify their passions and visions for a better world is nothing less than inspiring. And it helped me update and refine my own vision, which as of today reads:

“Leadership roles in business, government, and nonprofits throughout the world are evenly split between women and men.”

I currently try to work towards my vision by presenting at leadership conferences for college women and working with students through LeaderShape's Institute program. My plan is to continue to advance my vision in whatever capacity I can through my professional career as well as volunteering. It has become a central part of who I am and how I view my personal mission.

I currently serve as the Assistant Director of the Baltimore Collegetown Network. In this role I have been able to expand my involvement with LeaderShape and became a Co-Lead Facilitator in 2013. This summer I will co-lead my third Baltimore Collegetown LeaderShape Institute - and you know I’m excited about that! My current work with LeaderShape allows me to keep at the front of my mind the values of integrity, humanity, compassion, and hope for the future. I know that for at least six days a year (sometimes 12!) I get to live in possibility, encourage students to find their voice and pursue their passions, and engage in an inclusive community where people can be vulnerable, dream big, and dare to be their best selves.

At every Institute I have been a part of I am blown away by the visions of our students and leave feeling such hope for our communities and the world. I find comfort in knowing there is a large network of people, spread throughout the world, who have shared this experience and know what it means to “have a healthy disregard for the impossible.” From my experience as a participant (oh yes, and on-site coordinator), cluster facilitator and today being able to co-lead, in particular for the institute I played a part in launching, I have taken many gifts and blessings from the Institute experience. I only hope I can adequately pay it forward, although I think the sky is the limit in terms of opportunities to make a difference and give back. The way I see it I have the rest of my life, a big vision, and a whole world out there- at least I won’t get bored!

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