Major in Anything—Minor in Leadership

April 23, 2019

One day during the spring semester of my freshman year, I sat in my College of Liberal Arts advisor’s office, ready to show her another brilliant academic plan. I had scheduled appointments with her various times that semester, with each one bringing a new idea of what I wanted my undergraduate career to look like.

Steering in the Right Direction 

So when I arrived in my advisor’s office, I proudly showed her my mapped out plan of how I would add the management minor to my academic schedule. I didn’t really want to take economics, finance, accounting, and supply chain operations, but I thought the minor would be good for me. You can use business skills in everything you do, correct? This would be the perfect path for me, right? 

My advisor thought differently. She swiftly cautioned me and asked me to consider my strengths and why I really wanted to do the minor. At first, I was confused and resisted. I was telling her what I wanted to do, so I wondered why she was questioning me. Without my ability to articulate it, she said that it seemed like I was more interested in managing people.

Spoiler alert: she was right. 

Preconceived Notions 

I had heard talk of the leadership minor before, and when I first about it, I have to admit that I wasn’t impressed. “How is leadership a class?” I wondered. 

But I met many friends and acquaintances who were either in the minor or had at least taken the first course and loved it, so I thought I would give it a shot. I signed up for the first course, LEAD 1961W - Personal Leadership in the University. 

Spoiler alert #2: I was surprised by how much I learned. 

The Minor

I learned the most about myself in that first class. It was the first time that I was truly encouraged to engage in deep introspection and analyze how my life experiences inform my leadership style and abilities. It was also the first time that I truly felt comfortable speaking up in a classroom with my classmates’ attention on me. By learning in a class that was encouraged to operate like a community and share our unique experiences, I was able to discover the effective ways to lead people with equality and compassion. There were certainly uncomfortable moments of dissent and clashing personalities, but those contributed to my capacity to understand others and tolerate inconclusive situations. 

The minor is actually only four core courses, plus five elective credits or a learning abroad experience, so it’s relatively simple to work into one’s schedule regardless of their major. 

I’m thankful that my advisor was able to see my true motivation and strengths when I stopped in for that appointment two years ago. So if you haven’t, try out the first leadership course, and maybe say thanks to your advisor too!