Education Matters: Fresno State leadership program helps students gain important leadership skills

FRESNO, California - You could say deciding to take on this ropes course takes courage, you've got to have a certain amount of confidence to believe you can do it, you trust your team…and you're not afraid to step out on your own

16 year old Lalitta Rathsasombath may have been terrified to take the leap but she did and said she learned something from the process

"I learned to trust in your teammates, if you don't trust your teammates you won't be able to accomplish anything and also that to get off your comfort zone if you want to push yourself to become a better person or if you want to improve then you need to get off your comfort zone and just push yourself to your limits", said high schooler Lalitta Rathsasombath.

These are all traits of good leadership and Lalitta is just one of a hundred valley high school students who spent a week at Fresno State learning what it takes to be a good leader.

 "I think leadership development, especially in 2017 in our country and world is so absolutely astounding essential", said Fresno State president Joseph Castro. 

President Joseph Castro kicked off the week long central valley emerging leaders summit, an idea developed and ran by Fresno State staff and students.

 "We focus on leadership, on college and career pathways and on community service", said leadership coordinator at Fresno State Arthur Montejano. 

Community service was a big part of the learning experience with students fanning out over fresno giving their time and help to organizations like habitat for humanity restor

"It's not what I expected but it is teaching me a lot and it's a lot of hard work but I know it's for a very good cause, stated Kerman high school student Trinity Valencia.

Students also spent part of their days at the community food bank. 16 year old Jason Pritchard said he had done this kind of volunteering before.

"I think its good to give back you know to those that are less fortunate that don't have homes, that can't afford to have a meal everyday."

But Jason…just like 16 year old Trinity said they had not participated in leadership activities at their schools.

"It's cool to meet other leaders and they are teaching us a lot, I have really learned a lot about myself, like what kind of leader I am", mentioned Trinity Valencia.

Fresno State said it developed this program for students who didn't nescessarily see themselves as leaders. There where classes teaching them leadership skills. Each student defining what they believe makes a good leader. 

During their four days on the Fresno State campus students were surrounded by good role models…leaders who encouraged them

"There are many things you could have done the last 3 or 4 days but you chose to be here and that is the first step to becoming a leader", said Jim Yovino.

The experience may have impacted each student in a different way but all of them left with the kind of confidence they may not have  had before.

"From the little leadership obstacle courses to the classrooms everything that I have learned so far, hopefully I can use it and make my school a better place, " Lalitta Rathsasombath said. 

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