Never Too Late To Be A Leader

Develop skills that will last a lifetime with the Leadership Institute

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Never Too Late To Be A Leader

The T2K Bronze Retreat in summer of 2016

Sara Ridgway

The Leadership Institute of Kean University is a certification program that runs over the course of four years, offered by the Center for Leadership and Service (CLS). 

Coordinator of student leadership development in the CLS, Sandra Espinal feels that students can learn outside of the classroom by being involved.

"You get a chance to put yourself into problem-solving situations or try something 'hands on,'" Espinal said. 

There are several different tiers to the institute, each with its own requirements and responsibilities for the students involved. There are four levels that students can reach to earn certification. These include the Transition to Kean (T2K) Bronze Leadership Program, the Silver Leadership Program, the Gold Leadership Program and the Platinum Leadership Program. 

In order to receive a Leadership Institute certification, students must complete T2K Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. 

As an alternative option to the four-year program, students can partake in L.E.A.D. (Leadership Education and Development), which is a seven-week leadership certification program.

A further look into each tier of the institute will provide a concise explanation of the role each one plays in the process of a leadership certification. 

T2K Bronze

The T2K Bronze Leadership Program is the first tier of the four-year leadership certification process. The program accepts 50 first-year Kean University students. 

Students in T2K Bronze will be in either of the following T2K classes:

  • T2K Section 12 Tuesday 11 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
  • T2K Section 40 Thursdays 11 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.

These T2K classes are only offered in the fall semester for students in the program. 

This aspect of the program focuses on a student's consciousness of self, commitment, congruence and individual values. 

Students in T2K Bronze will have the chance to:

  • Learn about different types of student leadership on campus
  • Explore ways to become involved on campus
  • Build connections among upper-class leaders and their peers


The next tier of the leadership program designed for second-year students is the Silver Leadership Program. The focus of this program is on group values, common purpose, collaboration and controversy with civility. 

Students in the program will:

  • Maximize their ability to succeed and contribute as a student leader 
  • Make contributions to the campus community


The third tier is the Gold Leadership Program for third-year students. This level of the program focuses on citizenship and societal/community values. Individuals in this program will see themselves as part of a larger whole. The students in Gold will make efforts for social change and see how important it is to join together in pursuit of reaching the same goals in a global effort. 

Students in the gold program will: 

  • Focus on getting the Kean community involved
  • Facilitate an event for a cause of their choice


The Platinum Leadership Program is the fourth and final year of the program, which combines all the skills learned throughout the first three levels. Upon completion of Platinum, students will be prepared for life after graduation. 

Students at this level will:

  • Facilitate leadership development in other students
  • Work one-on-one with professional mentors
  • Prepare to use their leadership skills in a professional work environment


The L.E.A.D. program builds organizational leaders through workshop lectures, discussions, activities and games. The seven-week program has participants meeting once a week for a dinner that allows students to network, which is followed by a workshop. The workshop topics and activities differ from week to week. Students in L.E.A.D. will work together to plan, propose, implement and participate in a community service project.

Undergraduate students with more than 18 credits and graduate students are welcome to apply. 

The overall goal of the Leadership Institute is to develop students into leaders who can use the skills they have developed after graduation. Each level has its own customized focus and goals for the students in that tier, that year. By completing the four-year program, students will be well-conditioned leaders ready to take on the world. 

"Your involvement in leadership will be helpful when completing scholarship and graduate school applications," Espinal said. "Work is one way to build a resume, but activities and organizations can also demonstrate what you have to offer to future employers."

Sophomore Leadership Specialist in the CLS, Dawn Demarco encourages students to become involved with the Leadership Institute for the many benefits they will gain throughout the four-year program. 

"Students become more involved, as well as gaining leadership skills and self-perception," Demarco said. "Students learn how to work with a group and test their abilities all while giving back to the community around them."

For more information about the Leadership Institute and how to get involved, visit Kean University's website

about the author

Sara Ridgway is double majoring in a marketing and communication with a concentration in media and film. She works as a Staff Writer for The Cougar’s Byte. Now entering her junior year at Kean University, Ridgway is currently honing her skills as she prepares for a career as a reporter upon graduation. In addition to being a well-rounded student, Ridgway has a variety of interests outside of the classroom. Ridgway plays for the Kean University women's volleyball team and also enjoys snowboarding, photography and other outdoor activities. She also has aspirations of travelling the world and working as a reporter abroad.