Student leadership retreat kicks off Honors College's 10th anniversary year

Student leaders in Grand Canyon University's Honors College challenged themselves at a recent leadership retreat in Prescott, Arizona.

About 40 Grand Canyon University Honors College student leaders spent a recent Saturday at Pinerock Camp in Prescott, Arizona, developing their skills at a student leadership retreat.

The event, which kicked off the Honors College’s 10th anniversary year, focused on teambuilding and leadership development challenges, from a ropes course to ziplining and problem-solving designed to build collaboration, communication, respect, trust and grit.

Freshman cybersecurity major Jordan Ward zipped up a tree to a platform and leapt toward a suspended bar in the Leap of Faith activity. Sophomore behavioral health science major Meredyth McClue and junior communications major Jenny DeVries tackled the “Sladder,” a giant log ladder whose rungs increase in distance.

Freshman cybersecurity major Jordan Ward leaps toward a suspended bar in the Leap of Faith activity.

“It was such an amazing opportunity, just to get to know one another. Not only that, but to grow and learn leadership skills,” said Olivia Stradley, a junior elementary education major about the retreat, organized through One Day Adventures.

She and her team wanted to win everything, she said, but quickly learned the activities were not about winning but about learning.

“I feel like that’s what the Honors College is all about,” Stradley said. “It’s about what it means to pick yourself back up, even when you make mistakes, even when you fail, and to keep going. That’s really what we learned today. … After this experience, I can’t wait to go forward and lead with and for the honors community and to connect with one another.”

With the 10th anniversary milestone in mind, the college, under the leadership of Dean Dr. Breanna Naegeli, has spent the past nine months overhauling its key leadership programs for honors students, including the new RISE Fellowship and Leadership in Action programs. The initiatives replaced the former student advisory board and honors clubs.

The RISE Fellows, who act as the student advisory board, commit to a yearlong program in which they’ll receive professional and leadership development while collaborating to plan and execute events, initiatives and programs.

Students who are part of Leadership in Action focus on community service, global health, connecting honors students to industry, civic engagement and transformative leadership.

Behavioral health science major Meredyth McClue and junior communications major Jenny DeVries tackled the Sladder.

At their meetings, RISE Fellows and the Leadership in Action team will welcome guest speakers and participate in team-building and other activities.

There’s also the Young Athena Valley of the Sun leadership development program, which follows a 10-week curriculum facilitated by partners with Athena Valley of the Sun.

All three leadership programs focus on career, personal and leadership development.

“My favorite part about working in the Honors College is that our students aren’t satisfied with the status quo or with simply meeting expectations,” said Honors College Director Dr. Marette Hahn. “Instead, they constantly strive to learn more, do more and become more. Their desire to learn and grow as leaders is inspiring and fills me with so much hope for our future.”

Dr. Marette Hahn contributed to this story.

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Related content:

GCU News: GCU Honors College celebrates 10 years with distinction

GCU News: Honors students make connections, build up communities on global treks

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