This past weekend I had the amazing opportunity and privilege to attend the 2018 Gemstone Leadership Retreat! We headed out to a hotel on the Chesapeake Bay for some focused brainstorming sessions on ways to improve our leadership roles within the program. Keep reading to learn more!
About Gemstone and my Journey to Leadership
Gemstone is a four-year research program within the University of Maryland in which students come up with a research project that they pursue during their undergraduate program. Outside of academics and research, Gemstone is also provides a community for its students and the Student Engagement director and coordinator work hard to support the students through initiatives and leadership opportunities. Click here to learn more!
My experience with leadership and Gemstone started last year during a very difficult time in my life. Hurricane Irma had just hit my island, St. Maarten, and I was absolutely terrified, heartbroken, and filled with more emotions. You can read more about how Hurricane Irma impacted me here.
During this hard time, the program reached out to me and offered their support. They let me start a donation drive with some of my fellow amazing peers! We had such a successful drive and I felt so good to be able to contribute to my island.
Fast forward to the spring, I applied and received the position of a Gems 100 Section Leader, which meant that I would be teaching a section of the introductory course to our incoming freshmen. This position was important to me because I wanted to share my story with others, guide them in the right direction, and be someone that they can talk to.
During the summer, I was asked to be the Chair of the 2018 Welcome Crew which I happily accepted! I worked alongside the staff and with student volunteers to welcome the new cohort of researchers into the program, again this was such a positive experience and I was happy to aid the process.
This lead to conversations with the director and coordinator of Student Engagement about what my future roles in the program could be and we came up with some great ideas that fall under strategic outreach. One initiative that I feel extremely excited about is address diversity in the program and coming up with ways to engage our students of color! I hope to help to make meaningful contributions to the program through this new role.
All the Gemstone student leaders were invited to go to the Chesapeake Bay Resort and Spa, it was a beautiful place for a retreat! Once we got to the location we headed into the conference room and started with some icebreakers to get to know each other. We got this super cute worksheet in which we filled out our true norths, where we're headed in life and what anchors us. In our lighthouse we put things that were important to us.
Afterwards we split into groups to brainstorm about our different initiatives within Gemstone. It was so great to be able to solely focus on brainstorming rather than dealing with all the stresses and responsibilities on campus. We made our SWOT analysis which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats and then shared them with each other to gain feedback.
I was so happy to be around this group of amazing student leaders! Everyone is so committed to doing their best in their respected positions, and are very involved on campus as well as so great with their academics. I felt very motived and inspired to be surrounded by them for the weekend.
This retreat was a great success! We spent hours working on some new ideas that I'm so excited to share once everything is finalized and approved. We had hours and hours of brainstorming but I felt so excited about everything we discussed. I was also very happy to get such a positive reaction about my new initiatives on diversity.
The resort was so beautiful and put me in such a relaxed mindset. It definitely reminded me of being by the ocean in St. Martin and made me a little homesick. After this weekend I definitely believe in the power of retreats! The change in scenery can do magic for your creativity. It was the perfect experience for a busy college student.
Thank you to the Gemstone Program for allowing me on this amazing trip!