Desmond Campus
Desmond Campus of Mount Saint Mary College. (Photo by Mount Saint Mary College)

By Anthony Krueger

Leadership Development Coach, Jess Mushel and Assistant Director of Campus Ministry, A.J. LaPoint welcomed student leaders to the Desmond Campus for an afternoon of reflection.

Student met outside the Campus Ministry office at Mount Saint Mary College before splitting into groups to drive to Desmond Campus.

Desmond Campus is an extension of Mount Saint Mary College and is a simple ten minute drive away from the school’s main campus.

LaPoint and Mushel, along with guest Rev. Hugh Macsherry welcomed the thirteen students and passed out little journals for reflection, as well as a schedule for the afternoon.

After introductions and an opening prayer Macsherry began the first session of discussion.

“I hope to teach you all something new and something fresh,” said Macsherry.

The discussion focused on three essential qualities that leaders are known for and should also strive for.

Macsherry presented his point with assistance of a slideshow and visuals.

He spoke of the qualities as being: authority, self-awareness and commitment.

Before asking any questions, he turned to his presentation and started a scene from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. In the particular scene students saw the formation of Dumbledore’s Army.

Student Stephanie Weaver said that she sees leadership as, “not being the boss of someone or a particular group, but as something more democratic.”

“A leader should be one with a sense of self awareness,” said student Asma Neblett. “A leader should be able to identify his or her weaknesses and find a balance from which to lead from.”

The discussion then turned from an open forum to time where the students were asked to break apart and take some time for silent reflection on the topic of leadership and the three qualities.

Laughter and the crunching of chips broke the silence for the beginning part of reflection causing the term silent reflection to take on a new connotation.

LaPoint brought the group back together with the idea that, “it is not necessarily the task but rather it is the process to get there that matters.”

Students and Leadership Scholars Danielle Farragher and Laura Lomolino turned to the group and started there portion of the retreat.

The two asked students to break into two larger groups before breaking into pairs in which each would reflect on attributes they feel they have as a leader as well as two they could say their partner had.

“A title doesn’t make someone a leader, rather the way they act and the perception people of them are what make someone a leader,” said Lomolino.

This idea was mirrored in the discussion on the matter of students identifying their traits and those of their fellow leaders.

After another time for reflection and quick snack break students were collected once again to listen once again to Macsherry.

This time Macsherry showcased scenes from the Lord of the Rings trilogy in order to enforce the idea of communal leadership.

“There are those meant to keep you on task,” said student Megan Capurso. “In a group people need to feel safe, have opportunity to speak and also have tasks delegated amongst the group.”

In leading a group we have to be open to failure.

“We need to understand that we learn from failure,” said Farragher.

After one more time of reflection, students collected once again to hear final remarks.

They were presented with the idea of saying, versus actually doing.

For this, he presented the idea of God and how he not only spoke of what he would do, he also traveled around and actually did what he said he was going to do.

By the end of the event leadership and spirituality was spread throughout the group and before leaving Desmond Campus students took a moment to venture around the property and say one last goodbye.

Thanks go out to LaPoint, Mushel and Rev. Macsherry.