Beginning one's freshman year can be extremely overwhelming. With balancing a new environment, new course load and a new social scene, one can feel very overrun while trying to navigate all of this. This is why the Bronze Level of the Leadership Institute is here to help ease these worries, all while building up students to become the best leader they can.
Freshman Alexis Barlow can attest to this as she has just started her journey at Kean and is a Bronze Leadership student. Barlow is an elementary education major with a prospective psychology minor, which she hopes to use to become an elementary teacher and fulfill her goals of having an inclusive classroom. She even hopes to use her degree to move upward and become a counselor and expand her knowledge within the education realm.
As a local from Old Bridge High School, Barlow is a commuter student, therefore she wanted to get involved on campus instead of just coming to campus for her classes and then leaving right after. In high school, Barlow was involved in the Education Club as well as a peer program, in which upperclassmen assisted the underclassmen. In addition, she participated in a variety of community service events both through her school and on her own.
When coming to Kean, Barlow wanted to continue her involvement, but elevate it to a collegiate level. She said, "I’ve always been the type to step up and become the leader of whatever I’m doing."
This is what lead Barlow to the Leadership Institute, a four year program in which students learn valuable skills that enhance their leadership qualities as well as get them acquainted with Kean's campus. Through this program, students are mentored and trained to become the student leaders that this campus needs. It also goes hand-in-hand with the Transition to Kean (T2K) class and encourages Bronze students to participate in community service and other events on campus.
Through the Bronze Leadership Level, the students are invited to the T2K Bronze Retreat, which transpires in the summer. Students stay in the dorms for the duration of the retreat. The Leadership Institute staff, as well as older Leadership mentors guide them to learning more about themselves, each other and the campus. Students participate in a lot of team building activities as well as leadership activities to get them ready and acclimated to begin their freshman year.
Barlow said, "[The T2K Bronze Retreat] definitely taught me to listen to others opinions because [in] certain activities we have to do, you have to put all your brains together and [learn] your opinions [are] not the only one."
Barlow attested that being involved in the Bronze Leadership Level as well as attending the T2K Bronze Retreat has made her much more comfortable on campus by not only helping her become familiar with buildings and services offered, but also by being able to recognize friendly faces from the Leadership Institute.
Barlow said, "I feel like, especially with the Bronze Level I’m at now, it will help me to manage my time and manage my study skills."
Throughout the rest of her freshman year and her journey at Kean, Barlow intends on focusing in her studies to achieve her childhood dream of becoming a teacher. She plans to continue to participate in community service opportunities on and off campus. Besides the Leadership Institute, she plans on getting even more involved on campus and joining clubs that center around her major.
When asked what advice she would give an incoming freshman, Barlow said, "I would probably say not to be nervous because it’s a whole new start for you, and it’s something totally different from high school."