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Campus Celebrity: David Evans and Sewanee SEEL

What does it take to be an effective leader? Truth is, if we could all answer this question correctly, things would be a lot better on campus and in the world.  Many people claim that some people are “born leaders.”  However, David Evans, a senior at Sewanee, has started a pilot program targeted at teaching students that leaders are made, not born. This program is called SEEL. According to Evans:

“Effective leadership is a product of cooperation, not simply a role or possession of a single person. Leadership development comes through reflection on experience.”

But what is SEEL? SEEL stands for Student Engagement, Empowerment, and Leadership.  Evans chose this acronym because, to him, it is a reminder of the Sewanee Seal.  The seal we try so hard not to step on as we enter All Saints Chapel “is a representation of the ideals Sewanee stands for, because I believe our student leaders should represent the ideals students stand for, too,” according to Evans.

This pilot program is so important because we do have many competent and strong student leadership on campus.  Evans says that communication is often the problem that is learned, with difficulty, by the students in these leadership positions. He believes that different organizations can collaborate more. because there are many great lessons and resources that each group has and can share. 

Evans started this program recently so that he could use the lessons he has learned in his Sewanee experience in order to help the future leaders of Sewanee.  Last year, he was the co-director of a themed house and ran into problems with how to lead effectively.  He didn’t understand his leadership style and was unsure of how to communicate his ideas and be accountable.  Then, he gained more experience when he participated in a SEA Semester, sailing from Massachusetts to Ireland and studying leadership on-board for a month. When he reached Ireland, he spent another month working on a farm and learning about empowerment. Now, he has finished his course work early (how impressive is that?!) and is focusing on how he can make leadership development and support more prevalent on campus. Evans eventually came to realize:

“I had never heard anyone in Sewanee talk about effective leadership or different kinds of leaders.” 

While different organizations may incorporate how to be a leader in that specific field, Evans is aiming at bring all of one’s experiences together.  If Sewanee students are able to combine their multiple experiences in sports, Greek life, academics, etc., campus will be full of more well-equipped leaders who are less afraid to face challenges in the future. 

Some events that Evans has accomplished so far are workshops on leadership styles and communication, a talk by Chef Rick (“Empowerment and Team Building in McClurg”), and a panel discussion by student leaders (“Becoming a Student Leader”).  In the latter, panelists talked about their progressions and learning experiences from their first time leadership positions to proctors, presidents, and house managers.

pictured above are panelists Emily Williams, Luis Tinoco, Eva Moss, Sylar Holmes, and Michelle Howell

While there was a great turn out for the panelist discussion, Evanshopes to have a growing turnout for his SEEL workshops.  After all, according to Evans, we already have that leadership present on campus, but there is so much room to grow.  His goals are to give students a more informed context in thinking about leadership, because…

“leadership development comes through reflection on leadership experiences.” 

He also wants to celebrate the successful leaders on campus and allow for other students to learn from their successes. More than anything, though, he wants to increase the networking and collaboration among the student organizations on campus. 

If you want to find out more about Sewanee SEEL and start attending Evans’ fabulous workshops (I’ll be there!), check out the FACEBOOK PAGE.  And, be on the lookout for upcoming events and workshops that Evans is doing a wonderful job leading. 

Madi is a Senior from Asheville, North Carolina. She has written for the Sewanee chapter of Her Campus since it was founded her Freshman year, and hopes to continue writing after graduation either as a journalist or through work in Public Relations. She loves laughing and hearing people's life stories!
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