Sep 172008
Authors: Jessica Cline

The first CSU program to offer students certificates in co-curricular leadership development, Rams Engaging in Active Leadership, began this fall in its first year.

Sponsored by the Office of Student Leadership Involvement and Community Engagement, the “REAL experience” offers students an ongoing series of leadership workshops featuring presenters from multiple disciplines and departments across campus.

Throughout the semester, the 29 presenters at 60 workshops will focus on specialized areas such as social justice, community engagement, organizational leadership and outdoor adventure/environmental justice.

Students work toward four levels of certificates by attending the workshops on a drop-in basis. Program coordinators said REAL is committed to helping students develop the skills necessary to become civically-minded people who can have an impact in society.

“I just love seeing and being a part of the change which students go through in experiences such as the REAL experience,” said Zach Mercurio, a graduate student who started coordinating the REAL program as a practicum student for SLiCE.

He said his passion for leadership development and CSU’s need for an accessible, co-curricular leadership development program gave him the opportunity he desired.

“We came up with the program researching and using leadership theory, looking at what other peer institutions were doing in the co-curricular area, and then talking with representatives at CSU to tailor the program to meet this institution’s need,” Mercurio said.

Student fees fund the REAL program so that all students have the ability to become involved with the program.

No application process to attend workshops is necessary, and all records are kept on file so students can work through the program as fast or as slow as they choose to.

Students can attend workshops every so often or even years apart.

The REAL program is designed to be flexible to can work with and fit all schedules and lifestyle choices. The only requirements to obtain the first certificate are to take five workshops and complete eight hours of community service, but students get to choose how and when they do this and which workshops they want to take.

“This program is designed so that students have the opportunity to tailor the certificate to fit their personalities,” said Bobby Kunstman, the assistant director of SLiCE. “Our one main purpose is to give students a life-changing experience that they can grow from – whether it is from one workshop or the combination of many workshops.”

By partnering up with the career center, the REAL program aims to teach students not only about leadership, but also how to use leadership in their careers and futures.

Students can choose to complete one workshop or all levels of certificates.

Each level of certificate gets more involved and more specific into a certain category of leadership.

A calendar of fall workshops can be found on the SLiCE Web site,

Staff writer Jessica Cline can be reached at

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