Cassy Castle, 2012 Cohort:
If you asked me several months back how I would spend my summer, my very last answer would be that I planned on spending a month with twenty four complete strangers. I found myself feeling anxious and not knowing what to expect as I walked to the check-in table. That day, I had no idea that I would learn so much about myself and meet friends who would help me through the process.
I became increasingly interested in the fact that if I willingly applied what I learned to my life, I would become a stronger leader and confident in my growth as an individual. I struggled with my own vision of a leader, and soon realized that I had it all wrong. I learned to listen more than speak, and I worked to understand, rather than judge. I rediscovered what my values are and how they are active in my life, making me recognize the qualities of an authentic person.
We took part in various service projects in and near Bowling Green, including work with Metro Parks and Habitat for Humanity. Our service projects were mostly hands-on, and we worked with great effort to serve others.
Some of my favorite memories are the challenges we faced at Camp Heartland and Camp Palmer. The high-ropes course made me face my fears, and the wall showed me how I can help to encourage and strengthen others. Smiles shone and tears were shed, but overcoming those obstacles together created a bond so strong that the difference was hard to go unnoticed by those around us.
Not only did I learn valuable skills to be a better leader, I learned more about myself than I have in my entire life. I saw all of me for who I am – my strengths, weaknesses, flaws, talents – but the summer program taught me how to build upon those strengths and talents, while letting others step in for my weaknesses. Not only have I been blessed with wonderful cohort members and caring faculty, but I now have a PLAmily that will support my accomplishments, hold me up when I stumble, and accept me for who I am.
Celeste Smith, 2011 Cohort:
Coming into college, I was extremely nervous. I had preconceived notions about what to expect, one of them being that college is very hard and that basically you are on your own. While this may be the case for some, it is not one hundred percent true. The Sidney A. Ribeau President’s Leadership Academy has played a major role in my transition from high school to college, as well as contributing to my successful first year here at Bowling Green State University.
One of the major things that the PLA offers that helped me in my freshmen year of college is the fact that it is great for networking. Through the PLA, I have met some amazing, intelligent and ambitious individuals. Some of the friendships I have made have helped me through my first year and I know that some will be lifelong. These people I met have helped me when I needed it, motivated me when I was down, and have just been great friends. Had it not been for PLA, I probably would not know half of the people here on campus that I do now.
In addition to networking with my peers in PLA, the staff has also contributed to my great first year. They are always there with a helping hand and a listening ear. They show us tough love, which is needed with how serious college is, as well as how fun it can be. The one-on-one advising sessions with Dr. Snyder helped me in so many ways. When I felt stressed or overwhelmed, she was there to listen and tried to help in any way that she could.
The Summer Program that all incoming scholars are required to attend played a major role in helping my freshman year go by as smoothly as it did. While the Summer Program was one of the biggest assets to my successful first year, it was also my favorite part. It prepared me for the workload of college and also how to manage time, read syllabi, and become more familiar with the campus.
Furthermore, study tables are what helped me academically. Study tables were required, so it was a set time for me to focus directly on my academics. It allowed me to get a lot of work done, which led to me earning a very high grade point average.
To conclude, PLA has helped me in so many ways during my first year. While the requirements may sometimes feel like a hassle, it is beneficial in the long run. I am truly thankful for this scholarship and the people in it, both my peers and the staff.
Greg Cherry, 2010 Cohort:
As a new member of the PLA in the fall of 2010, I knew that there was a lot for me to learn, a lot for me to do, and quite frankly, I was nervous and anxious about everything. I had friends in PLA, I had friends outside of PLA, but I didn’t really have anyone at college that was older than me to just sit down and talk with about different things in life. Fortunately for me, the PLA has a program that provided me with that resource, and that program happened to be the PAL Program
We arrived in the Union for the PAL meeting. My cohort was one part anxious and one part skeptical. We went into the room and saw the faces of the 2008 cohort, many of whom we did not recognize. We did an activity where we had to find our mentor, and it was then that I was introduced to mine. At that moment, I didn’t see how we could have anything in common, but afterwards, I realized there was much more than what met the eye.
During my first meeting with my pal, I realized how relaxed she was and how much we agreed on and thought alike on several topics of discussion. She and I shared many laughs, many “real talks” and there are memories that I won’t forget. We were both from different backgrounds, different upbringings, but yet were able to get along so well. I thought that was the greatest thing about the program. It brought together two initially unlike people, who, over time, realized they were much more alike than they thought. We all knew that at the end of the day, we had an older member of the PLA that we could go to, and as a college freshman, that security is so vital to have.
Now I am a junior, and as the time draws closer for me to get my PAL, I’m more excited than anything. One thing that the PLA has taught me is that it’s such an amazing thing to have a mentor who is there to take you under their wing and guide you. That’s what I want to be able to do for my PAL, and I know without a doubt, that they’ll teach me just as much as I teach them. The new members need that guidance that only experience can provide, and us older members can be rejuvenated and revitalized by seeing how much excitement and energy the freshmen members have about college. If you go into the program with a positive outlook and a willingness to learn and make a new friend, then it’s going to be a great adventure for you and something that you enjoy.
Brionna Powell, 2009 Cohort:
The President’s Leadership Academy is a name that almost everyone on campus has heard of. The organization has taught me so much within the past three years and because of that, I am a completely different person then when I first entered college.
The final “exam” is the senior cohort being in charge of planning and executing the annual retreat planning process. Everything we have learned and all our experiences have shaped us for this overwhelming yet rewarding process. We began the planning back in January. It actually seems unreal that my fellow PLA scholars will be at an event completely planned by my cohort. The “unreal” feeling comes from knowing that until September 21, all of the hard work is only on paper, in the form of receipts, lesson plans, and tons of academic research. When we actually execute this retreat it will be “real” and others will benefit from what we have planned for them. We have great leadership based educational sessions that will allow my fellow PLA scholars to leave as better leaders and fun PLAmily bonding activities. I know this will be one of the best retreats because of the dedication my cohort has to the PLA and to planning the best events.
I would like to call this retreat our “baby”, we have carried it for nine months and soon we will be delivering the hard work that we have put into the planning process. I am pleased to say this will be a beautiful “baby”, one that I hope my peers will be in awe of for weeks, months, and even years later.