Learning from LEADS

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Kristi Yamashita
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The Leadership Experience and Development for Success (LEADS) Program at UC Irvine is just one example of why students should get involved in organizations on campus. Many students, myself included, may be frustrated with what they are learning in class and might think, “How is this actually going to help me in my future career?” Within this program, students are able to develop as professionals, as well as participate in mentoring workshops and network events with The Paul Merage School of Business alumni and leaders in the local community. Furthermore, in organizations like this, students are able to learn valuable soft skills from the knowledgeable mentors who developed the topics for this program.

Give Back

One concept that we learned in LEADS is that we should “Give first, give often, and don’t expect anything in return.” This resonated with me because I believe that we live in a self-centered world where most people just expect things to be given to them. I think we should realize that life is not about receiving, but more about giving to others and helping one another out to achieve ambitions and goals. By giving to others, such as sharing knowledge to solve a certain problem or simply sending a thank you card, there is more positivity within the community and people are more willing to do the same for others, even if the favor is not returned to you.

Listen to Those Before You

The LEADS Program is fortunate to have executive and committee members who dedicate both their time and talent to the students’ success. They offer their experience and connections to the program by presenting and facilitating at least three workshops every quarter, donating books, bringing guest speakers, and giving the Council funds to utilize to increase student bonding and engagement. Most importantly, they serve as available and responsive mentors when the students need them. The LEADS students are grateful to have both dedicated and passionate supporters of the program. Being in programs like this allows you to gain wisdom from people that have been in your shoes. If you get the chance to hear from someone about their experiences, take it!


A more recent topic that we have been working on is “Who are you when you are BIG?” This is the idea of knowing who you are when you are striving and feeling your best. The mentors had us write short statements of who we were when we were “big” and the results were amazing. Many students described themselves to be confident, strong, organized, happy, and even unstoppable. The list is endless. Whatever each student felt when they were “big” was unique from person to person. Reading this statement right before a test or interview or even when someone is not feeling their best can help the person remember who they can be. It provides the motivation and willpower for the person to pick themselves up and go achieve their goals because they have it in them to do so.

Ultimately, I highly encourage other students to join organizations like the LEADS Program, as it educates students in ways that a textbook simply can’t. I have learned so much in the short amount of being in it and want to say that getting involved can be just as important as going to classes.


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