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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Sprout cultivates leadership in first-year students

Career Counselor Amanda Fontenot is one of the driving forces behind Sprout. (Lucas Blanchard-Glueckert/Guilfordian)

As the new school year blooms, so bloom with it new programs for students. The Career Development Center and the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement have planted the seeds for one such program debuting this semester: Sprout.

Sprout is a leadership program for first-years, with the aim of helping new members of the Guilford College community grow into student leaders in their subsequent years.

“With a lot of the leadership programs at Guilford, such as Bonner Scholars, by the time the school year starts, students are already in,” said Director of Career Services Alan Mueller. “There wasn’t really a program for students who want to get their feet on the ground for a few weeks, and then get in a program. Sprout is for students who aren’t already plugged in.”

According to Mueller, Sprout is a 10-week program that uses experiential learning to teach about different leadership styles. The intention is to nurture the potential of new students at Guilford.

“I think that Sprout will help me grow as a person and further my career at Guilford,” said first year Eli Cloonan, a participant in the program.

“Sprout will increase opportunity for students who aren’t already hooked in,” said Director of Student Leadership and Engagement Erin Fox. “We have so many students with so much incredible potential, we just wanted to give something to those up-and-comers … It’s essential to get on that student leader track early on.”

Sprout started this past week after the CDC and OSLE conducted several interviews with candidates to judge whether they could make the commitment. The program will require about two hours a week.

According to Career Counselor Amanda Fontenot, Sprout will help students flourish as members of the Guilford community.

“I’m new here, so I don’t know the campus community that well, but I do know small liberal arts colleges,” said Fontenot. “It’s easy to get siloed (departmentally segregated). So we’re trying to get students out of their silo, and get them involved with leadership and other people.”

For first-years who missed the opportunity to join Sprout this semester and are green with envy about it, there will be another chance to root yourself in the program next semester.

“I can name at least three fall athletes that can’t participate because of previous commitments,” said Fox. “I don’t want them to miss out because I think they have so much to give. So we’re trying to provide enough opportunities so that anyone who wants to do it can and still do their must-do’s.”

And Sprout won’t just end with first-years. There is also the hope that once the first generation of Sprout graduates reaches their junior year, they’ll come back and help another group of student leaders blossom.

“After about three or four groups, it will promote itself,” said Mueller. “These students will be orientation leaders, RAs, they’ll be involved with Senate or The Guilfordian … and once we reach critical mass, we’ll find juniors who have done Sprout to lead Sprout.”

With the new season dawning, those involved are excited about the possibilities.

“I feel lucky that I’m getting to develop students like this,” said Fontenot. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Fox echoed Fontenot’s sentiment.

“It’s a win-win,” said Fox. “We get great things, and the students get great things. It’s always about making experiences great for students.”

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