As advocates for their peers and teammates, Sycamores know leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.
Logan Hambrock always felt anxious speaking in front of large groups of people.
Hambrock, ’17, credits his involvement in several student groups during his time at Indiana State with helping him get over that fear and develop into a better leader overall.
As a runner for the cross-country and track-and-field teams, Hambrock became deeply involved in the university’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee, a group that gives student athletes a voice in pertinent issues on-campus and nationwide.
He also represented State at the conference level as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference Student Athlete Advisory Committee and, during his senior year, at the national level as one of 32 student athletes from across the country on the NCAA Division 1 Student Athlete Advisory Committee.
“You gain a lot of insight just from being around professional people on these committees and watching how they carry themselves,” said Hambrock, who began working for General Atomics shortly after graduation. “Now, I’m a lot more confident in interviews and speaking in front of groups of people.”
There’s no question that Sycamores are learning valuable skills and information in their classes, but they’re also developing important leadership abilities outside the classroom by getting involved with student organizations, fraternities and sororities, student government, committees, clubs and competitive teams.
“You can learn an awful lot from a textbook and a laboratory, but a student’s personal development is often touched by those experiences that they have applying that information in a real-world setting,” said J. Brooks Moore, associate vice president for student affairs. “There’s no doubt that co-curricular experiences aid in the overall development of the student.”
‘Curiosity and passion’
Like Hambrock, roughly 30 student athletes are selected by their teammates and coaches to represent their sport on the Indiana State Student Athlete Advisory Committee.
Together, committee members plan community service projects and discuss proposed NCAA legislation. They also coordinate Blue-White games, which are Sycamore athletic competitions for each sport that all student athletes are encouraged to attend to show their unity and school pride.
By representing their peers, committee members develop valuable leadership and organizational skills, said Angie Lansing, senior associate athletics director and senior woman administrator.
And, since they have a say in the student-athlete experience at State, their involvement also demonstrates to future employers they understand how top-level decisions can affect an organization’s members.
“The hope is that they’ve gained some social and leadership skills during their time on the committee through collaborating with others,” Lansing said.
There are more than 270 registered student organizations on campus, including faith-based groups, fraternities and sororities, sports clubs, pre-professional groups and community service clubs.
Leadership is baked into the university’s student organizations from the get-go: Although all student groups have a faculty or staff adviser, they’re started and run entirely by students.
“This is about the students’ curiosity and passion,” Moore said. “When the students mobilize around a cause or an interest, we support them. But these are students saying, ‘This is something we would like to do.’”
Students who choose to join a social sorority and fraternity also develop leadership skills by mentoring new members, organizing philanthropic and social events, and serving on committees.
“Often, members are engaging in high-level conversations and decision-making about budgeting, planning and recruitment that impacts of hundreds of students at time,” Moore said. “They’re getting buy-in from other members and moving the group to action on a regular basis under a shared goal.”
As a freshman this fall, Molly Morgan got involved right away with her sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha. During her first semester on campus, she was selected to help the chapter rewrite its bylaws, and she was named director of sisterhood.
She also raced on the Zeta Tau Alpha trike team in the annual Sycamore Tricycle Derby.
For Morgan, taking on campus leadership roles comes naturally. She was heavily involved in student council and a number of other activities in high school, so she was excited to jump in with both feet when she started classes at Indiana State.
“I love being busy — my calendar is always jam-packed and it’s nice always having something to do,” said Morgan, who is also a President’s Scholar. “I think of it as bettering myself and meeting new people.
Roughly 100 students each semester get involved with the Student Government Association, a group that represents the views of the student body and advocates on behalf of their fellow Sycamores. The association also sponsors the Sycamore Leadership Coalition, a program that provides first-year students with formal leadership training to help them mature into student leaders during their remaining years on campus.
In addition to leadership skills, student government representatives learn how to communicate their ideas, work collaboratively and motivate others, Moore said. Although they’re intimately involved in campus governance, most student government leaders don’t go on to work in politics after graduation.
“It’s a skill set that can help them after graduation, regardless of which career path a student may take,” Moore said.
For Sycamores looking for more specific application of their program of study, the College of Technology’s student competition teams are particularly appealing. They’re also a chance to form lifelong friendships and get to know professors better, said Kara Harris, interim dean of the College of Technology.
“Our students are competitive — they like to win,” said Harris. “But a lot of it is that they’re intrinsically motivated to do this. No one’s paying them. They’re not getting a grade.”
One such group is the Eco-marathon team, which challenges students to design and build energy-efficient vehicles. Teams from all over the world gather once a year to determine which vehicle can travel a set distance using the least amount of energy.
Indiana State’s team, which has roughly 20 members, launched in the fall of 2015. Since the goal is to make the vehicle as efficient as possible, the team must weigh every decision carefully, which prepares them for life as professional engineers.
“They get to build and weld and cut and all that stuff, which is really fun of course, but they also actually have to sit and think and use engineering. And that’s a really big deal,” said Kristina Lawyer, an assistant professor in the college and the team’s faculty adviser.
Through their work on the team, students become more confident in managing complex projects, Lawyer said. Since the team’s budget is limited and energy-efficient parts are extremely expensive, they also get more comfortable with budgeting and fundraising.
“There’s definitely a lot of growing up going on,” Lawyer said.
Plus, the college’s competitive teams also allow students to showcase their pride in Indiana State. Each team has its own T-shirt, which members wear proudly around campus.
“These groups give students and faculty members a sense of ownership,” Harris said. “This is something they’re good at and it gives them bragging rights. It creates a buzz. It’s a fun atmosphere, and it makes for some awesome excitement on campus.”