The Texas State Leadership Institute will debut a new program tailored to freshman students next semester called Pathfinder.
According to Dean of Students Margarita Arellano, the Pathfinder program will aim to teach freshmen the basics of leadership. According to Arellano, only 24 to 75 students will be admitted into the Pathfinder program next semester. The first semester of Pathfinder will serve as a pilot program and will be shaped for years to come, she said. She said the limit on admitted students will help control the pilot program, and there will be room for growth in the future.
“We want to teach students about leadership in general,” Arellano said. “We want to show them what it is, how we run meetings, how we motivate people—just different aspects of being a leader.”
While the program’s curriculum is still being developed, Leadership Institute Coordinator Ashley Spicer-Runnels said the program will focus on integrity, effective communication, diversity and helping students define their personal leadership styles.
The Pathfinder program aims to help students discover who they are and who they want to become as a leader, according to Runnels.
“(Pathfinder) will show students that their impact matters,” Runnels said. “Every student can make a difference.”
The program was developed in part by graduate students, and it will start with small, peer-to-peer groups, Arellano said. She said she wants to foster “a sense of justice and fairness and strong ethics” in freshmen.
“Students need to understand and learn the right thing to do,” Arellano said. “One of the reasons I was so passionate about getting this program to Texas State is because schools and careers are putting more and more value on leadership.”
While the Pathfinder program is the first to be specifically tailored for freshmen, the Leadership Institute offers many programs geared toward management and mentoring skills, Arellano said. She said the institute holds a leadership conference that 350 students can attend.
“We have several programs designed for students who are already strong leaders,” Arellano said. “We are also adding new programs every year.”
Arellano said she helped open the Leadership Institute three and a half years ago.
“When I came to Texas State, one of my main interests was leadership development because it completes the college experience and teaches people how to work together,” Arellano said. “We, as a university, have a responsibility to graduate professional people who have life skills and who give back to the community.”