Watson Chronicle


Student Opportunities and Student News

Leadership Studies Aids Local Veterans through Partnership with Step Up for Soldiers

Monday, November 18, 2013

Leadership Studies Students

For the past 20 years, UNCW has offered a Leadership Studies minor to students in any academic field and it has been a program of the Department of Educational Leadership in the Watson College of Education since 2004. Students learn leadership concepts and develop personal leadership styles in a series of courses offered by LED Coordinator Joanne Nottingham. During the final semester, they work to hone these skills by teaming on a leadership challenge project in service to the community.

This year LED 411 students chose to partner with Step Up for Soldiers, a Wilmington-based non-profit founded by Tom Russell in 2004 to aid disabled veterans. After branding their project Lead. Learn. Serve., students worked in small groups to manage public relations, advertising, event coordination, social media and finance. Emma Finch served as the class communications point person who documented class discussions and decisions in writing and emailed them later. Gussie Quinata was the initial contact with Tom Russell and Alexis Ehrlich wrote the press release approved by UNCW University Relations. Haley Alber, Lauren Hillen and MacKenzie Hopkins enlisted the help of Southern Sign Company, a Step Up for Soldiers sponsor, on design and production of a banner; Brendan Easlick created a Facebook page, and Travis Heenehan, Chelsea Payne and Steven Tanaka arranged for teams to attend the Combat Mud Run and man tables at numerous UNCW sporting events including soccer and club ice hockey games to raise awareness and money for the cause. Ben Fisch and Matt Pauley assumed financial responsibility for the donations collected at each event.

Last year, Leadership Studies worked with Cell Phones for Soldiers, a national organization but students say supporting the military in partnership with a local organization is more rewarding because they feel connected to the cause. The class had an opportunity to meet founder Tom Russell and hear his vision first-hand. Matt Pauley said it was inspirational. Russell’s current goal is to raise enough funds to build a handicap-accessible home as a place for injured returning veterans to heal, and Pauley says, “We really want to help him.” It feels great, students say, when enlisted men and veterans seek them out at events to say, “thanks.”

For information on Step Up for Soldiers visit http://www.stepupforsoldiers.org/

For information on the Leadership Studies project visithttps://www.facebook.com/UNCWStepUp