Filling Their Own WELL
CEOs, athletes, and leaders the world over have spent lifetimes proving the old adage “great leaders are born, not made” is anything but true. Ask any Bay Path undergraduate student or alumna, and she’s likely to tell you the same thing. The idea that leaders are made and the characteristics that define a great leader can be learned, shaped, and honed is what prompted Bay Path to develop its signature Women as Empowered Learners and Leaders (WELL) program, and the idea is what has empowered students to become leaders of their own making.
WELL courses, which are required curriculum for both traditional undergraduate students and The American Women’s College (TAWC) students, are designed specifically to help students identify their life goals and give them the confidence, skills, and knowledge to achieve those goals successfully. For traditional students, their unique WELL program allows them the time needed to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses and identify their self-narrative. “Once students are comfortable with their self-narrative,” shared Dinah Moore, the executive director of the traditional undergraduate WELL program, “they can use that narrative to lead others. Students also learn to recognize their areas of opportunity and are able to flip them into a testimony that can not only help themselves but others, as well.”
“WEL100 is a course that prepares you for life; it prepares students to stand up for what they believe in, and it prepares them to create who they want to be,” shared Lily West ’20, a psychology student and a peer mentor for the traditional WELL program. “College is a new chapter in everyone’s life, and it is often a time when people wish to recreate their image or their beliefs, and WEL100 provides a safe environment to do exactly that. WELL classes beyond WEL100 teach us how to be successful in life.”
Students are also encouraged to put those freshly minted leadership skills to use by engaging in student clubs. “We talk about student leadership roles and how they can get involved,” Moore shared. “A lot of the students might not have even known or felt confident enough to get involved before that conversation.”
For TAWC students, many of whom have decided to return to college to change or advance their career, the WELL program provides a much-needed chance to focus on themselves and their development as leaders. “Many TAWC students have never had the luxury of time to focus on themselves and their goals; they are always busy supporting others,” shared Gretchen Heaton, Bay Path’s senior director of Career and Leadership Development and academic director of Leadership & Organizational Studies and the TAWC WELL Program. “The WELL program series gives them targeted training in how to do this, with a lot of one-on-one guidance and support. Students are so excited that they get the opportunity to focus on this kind of personal and professional development.”
Both traditional and TAWC WELL courses focus on tactical skills such as interview prep and resume and cover letter writing, as well as teaching students about the effect of leadership on community through social action projects where students can put their leadership into practice through real-life exercises.
Throughout the WELL classes, students learn that leadership is more than aiming for the corner office and being the decision maker. It’s built on confidence, excellent time management, being able to work with others, understanding group partnerships, and problem solving. “Soft skills such as leadership, communication, critical thinking, and adaptability, these are examples of the skills that employers often say college students lack,” Moore stated. “The WELL program focuses on these things not only to help prepare the students for internship opportunities (and ultimately the workforce), but also to allow students to complete the program by applying what they have learned to a community-based project.”
Upon the culmination of their WELL journey, students emerge with strong “whole-person leadership” skills and confidence in who they are, their values, and their ability to work with others. They emerge as true leaders.