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Professor brings out the leader in students

Maybe not everyone is destined to be president of the United States, CEO of a Fortune 500 company or even head of a school PTA. But Purdue University Calumet Professor Rachel Clapp Smith hears in some way each semester from her students, “I came into this class thinking I wasn’t a leader, but I quickly learned I am one!”

Clapp Smith is an assistant professor of leadership in Purdue Calumet’s College of Business. Among classes she teaches is the experiential learning, senior level offering, “Leadership.” In the class, she leads her students to understand leadership theories, practice methods of evaluating effective leadership, and develop a personal leadership action plan based on research-validated theories, such as transformational leadership.

Her students also apply their lessons and develop their leadership skills by partnering with and contributing to local, not-for-profit organizations.

“By working with community partners, our students develop understanding of how they can influence change,” said Clapp Smith, who earned a 2011-12 Purdue Calumet Outstanding Faculty Award for her scholarly research in global leadership development and preparation of effective leaders.

At a recent class luncheon, students joined community partner representatives from Junior Achievement Northwest Indiana Division, the Delaney Projects Reunion Fund of Gary, the Salvation Army of Munster and East Chicago and the Sojourner Truth House of Gary.

Teams of students have been assigned to the not-for-profit organizations to apply leadership skills they are developing in response to a targeted project.

“I am looking for our Purdue Calumet student team to help identify proof points we can use to develop a marketing piece for recruiting Junior Achievement volunteers,” Katie Hobgood, Junior Achievement Northwest Indiana Division program manager, said.

For Sojourner Truth House, a day ministry for at-risk women and children, Purdue Calumet students will apply leadership techniques to help increase acquisition of food and clothing that is provided to Sojourner clients.

Later this year, the students and community partners will report on their fall semester experiences.

Some 175 students have studied leadership and developed related skills under Clapp Smith’s instruction in the hands-on course. As experiential learners, students integrate traditional and applied learning in a real world environment, collaborating with faculty and community partners.

“About 70 percent of leadership learning comes from doing,” Clapp Smith said. “In this class, students first study effective leadership and then go out and do it.”

Clapp Smith also heads The Leadership Center at Purdue Calumet, an outreach laboratory for leadership study by faculty and community members who have leadership and supervisory responsibilities. The center aims to help organizations and individuals address practical leadership challenges with contemporary thinking from relevant fields of research.

Other information can be obtained by contacting Clapp Smith at 989-3216 or Rachel.Smith@purduecal.edu.

College fair on campus

Representatives from more than 100 colleges and universities will gather in the Purdue Calumet gymnasium Tuesday, Sept. 17, for the Central Midwest College Fair.

High school students and their parents are invited to attend and visit with admissions officials from schools throughout the Midwest and beyond between 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. A complete list of participating colleges and universities is available at webs.purduecal.edu/collegefair.

Admission is free.

In addition to Purdue Calumet, northwest Indiana high schools and the Indiana Association of College Admissions Counselors are sponsoring the college fair. Other information can be obtained by phoning Purdue Calumet’s Office of Admissions at 989-2213.



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