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Up in the ALPS: Freshmen cultivate leadership skills

ALPS, Graphic by Samantha Magnaye
ALPS, Graphic by Samantha Magnaye

ALPS stands for Arise Leadership Program.

“The ‘S’ is silent,” Aaron Brown said.

Brown, the Director of ORU Student Leadership, kick started ALPS last semester with aims to cultivate student leaders, specifically from the freshman class. About 20 freshman make up ALPS this school year.

“ALPS is an introduction into personal leadership. It’s ORU’s philosophy on servant leadership,” said Brown. “Our hope is to really change how people think as a leader and who they are as a leader. We’re trying to make people aware of their insides so they can lead people on the outside.”

Brown launched ALPS in 2015 to take the place of the Blueprint freshman leadership development program. Blueprint was led solely by students and met once a week. Brown saw the need for stronger staff oversight.

“In the last few years, it was determined that there needed to be a more faculty and staff role with [Blueprint],” Brown said. “Blueprint was great, but it was just time to take it in a different direction.”

Brown said the first semester of ALPS has been a learning process.

“One of the difficulties was getting the formula right,” Brown said. “We thought we had some dynamite wins breaking up into small groups, but it wasn’t the interaction that the students needed. We started doing things a little differently. I took more of a teaching role.”

The group is as diverse as they are involved.

“Students come from all across the United States, Africa and Europe,” said lead mentor Shawn Madison.“We have students from very poor backgrounds and students from very wealthy backgrounds, home-schooled students and students who were in college while they were in high school. Every demographic.”

A team of sophomores and juniors serve as mentors for the freshman. As lead mentor, Madison helps Brown direct ALPS and oversee the mentors.

“It’s a really fun experience to see the freshmen grow and see them pull out some qualities they didn’t know they had,” said Madison. “It’s been great to see them open up, engage with themselves and become better student leaders.”

ALPS gives freshmen the opportunity to serve and grow their leadership skills. The freshmen leaders helped with several Student Association events last semester. They also served during the alumni Homecoming.

“When we have opportunities to serve on campus or when there’s a big hole that needs to be filled, we give them the opportunity to fill it. We also require them to do community outreach service hours,” Brown said.

As a part of the 50th incoming class, the freshmen handed out medallions to the first ORU graduating class.

“ALPS is really good in terms of meeting new people,” freshman Kristen Leupen said. “As a freshman, that was a really neat thing to experience.”
Leupen remembers one of her first ALPS meetings. The group spent time discussing the Bible on a deep level.

“It gave us an opportunity to see where everyone was with their walk with the Lord,” Leupen said. “And it encouraged everyone on their own walk with the Lord. Everyone is genuine.”

Right now, ALPS focuses mainly on freshmen. Next year, Brown plans to introduce a facet of ALPS that will serve sophomores, with future plans of further expansion to follow.

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