Asiah Donahue, the NSLS Chapter President for Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA), knew the chapter wanted to go big when it came to recruitment. To boost their induction of new members and recognize current members, they settled on a full week of focus on the NSLS— a challenge for all, but one that everyone pitched in to pull off as a team.
“This year our chapter was able to host its very own NSLS Week from May 1 through May 5. We began with doughnuts and coffee to recognize and thank our current members. On the second day, we were able to induct new members into our chapter, as well as host a recruitment day for internships."
As Chapter President, Donahue knew that an NSLS Week wouldn't be complete without giving back.
"On the third day, we were able to tap into our university's mission and serve our community by hosting an all-day food drive to fight food insecurity, where students could drop off goods to donate. The last two days were for our members to have fun and win prizes. We had a scavenger hunt for students to better learn the campus and the NSLS organization. Lastly, we ended with crawfish and snowballs with music for our members to unwind and socialize with each other.”
The weeklong series of events is a perfect embodiment of the mission of the NSLS: to build leaders who make a better world. Through networking, team building, and service initiatives, it was a week with real impact for all involved, and plenty of fun.
Successful Events Don't Happen Overnight
Anyone with event planning experience knows that getting all the moving pieces to work can be fraught with complications and pitfalls. Even hosting a single small event for a few hours requires leaders to juggle resources and schedules. Donahue says their experience for NSLS Week was a significant undertaking from the start.
“This took planning, starting at the beginning of the spring semester. We had a funky start to the school year and were not able to have our usual one to two events a month. With the hard work and dedication of the Executive Board and Mrs. Minnard and Miss Hunter, our advisors, we were able to compile a semester of events into one week and it was such a success. Our E-Board members made sure to keep up with deadlines and volunteer scheduling at all the events to run smoothly. We had some of our amazing members lend a hand, too.”
Hosting a complex week-long series of themed events was definitely an out-of-the-box idea for the chapter. It started, as all audacious goals do, with the spark of a broader sense of what was possible. Tackling each event both individually and as part of the larger series meant that each diverse goal could be more effectively targeted and met.
This, of course, didn't come without obstacles. As Donahue and her E-Board learned, getting stuck comes with the territory when creating an event, or in the case of the XULA chapter, a weeklong series of them. The key is to keep moving forward and keep dreaming big.
RELATED: 4 SIMPLE STEPS TO GET UNSTUCK
Putting Leadership Skills Into Practice
Carrying out a week-long celebration of all things NSLS wasn’t just a great way to promote the mission of the organization. It was also a terrific opportunity to practice and hone some sought-after leadership skills. That’s something future employers are interested in — a concrete, practical example of how soft skills are put into practice.
Donahue says it was especially valuable to have such an active E-Board participating in the prep work.
“It took a lot of dedication and devotion to see these events through. In the beginning, we were discouraged that we would not be able to host any events, but we had to see it through for our members. Our Executive Board was very quick to adapt to the situation we were dealt and make the absolute best of it. I admire the confidence and planning from the E-Board that it took to achieve this week.”
That sort of dedication can’t help but have a positive effect on both participants and the community as a whole.
“This impacted our NSLS community positively because we had many students looking to participate, and we allowed them to because we did not want to exclude excited students. We also had a lot of students asking how to join the NSLS and hopefully it increases our number of members at Induction next year. We also learned that NSLS Week was popular among our students and will continue to implement it going forward.”
A Personal Impact and Legacy
Donahue says her experience as Chapter President has broadened her own perspective on leadership and she learned that to lead means to connect with others.
“Becoming a leader within the NSLS organization has allowed me to see the extensive amount of potential I have to offer across the school and to bring a positive spotlight to my campus by being more involved in the everyday bustle of university life. I have met many wonderful individuals and have been able to network because of this position and for that I am forever grateful. My greatest accomplishment is working with the Executive Board to make our members happy.”
The experience has helped her clarify her own views of leadership as well as her expectations of herself. For Donahue, leadership is not something you are given, but rather something you become.
“Leadership to me means advocating on the behalf of others and listening attentively. It is extremely important to me that I take everyone into consideration and that I make sure everyone on my team is heard and understood. Being a leader is not something that is handed to anyone. It is earned, and you must continue to work and have the trust and respect of your team to be successful as a leader and to even accomplish the smallest of goals.”
Advice for Other Chapters
As for Donahue's top piece of advice? It resonates with her servant leadership approach to leading her chapter.
“Listen to all your members! Everyone has great ideas that can be implemented somewhere. Also, some of the most inconvenient mishaps make for the best outcomes when you have a strong E-Board willing to make things happen even on the shortest of notice.”
For the XULA chapter, their past successes have turned into a platform for even bigger goals. They’re hanging on to the weeklong structure of last year’s events, but hope to do even more.
“Our next goal is to come up with an even better week incorporating new events to keep our members happy. We also hope to launch a mentor program within the chapter on campus geared towards post bachelor's and even some peer-to-peer mentorship if possible. We plan on achieving these goals through alumni relations and partnering with other networks. We plan to continue our service to the community and possibly add different opportunities to volunteer.”
WATCH: DONAHUE TALKS ABOUT LEADING OTHERS
As mentioned above, leadership development is a proven way to help develop the soft skills employers value, but it can also help improve your personal life, too.