Sanger Team Members Reflect on Their Experiences at LeaderShape 2024

by | Apr 9, 2024 | Sanger News

LeaderShape, powered by M-LEAD and sponsored by the Sanger Leadership Center, is an intensive leadership development program offered to University of Michigan students over spring break. Taking place over five days at Camp Michigania in Boyne City, Michigan, it combines seminars, small group discussions, and personal reflection activities to explore ethical leadership principles. The institute creates an environment of learning and experimentation where participants are encouraged to flex their leadership skills and deepen their understanding of their personal values. 

This year, Sanger program specialist, Nick Viviano, and program coordinator, Rafael Marques, volunteered as LeaderShape cluster facilitators. In this role, they were responsible for guiding a small group of eight participants, known as the “family cluster,” throughout the program. By facilitating discussions, summarizing ideas, and modeling leadership behaviors, cluster facilitators create a powerful learning environment for participants.

Viviano, who also volunteered at LeaderShape in 2023, was thrilled to step back into the role. “It’s a learning experience for participants and facilitators,” he shared. “We are all learners and teachers in that space. It’s a skill to facilitate a small group discussion and to be able to navigate the vulnerability shared in those spaces in a respectful and enriching way.”

Marques, a first-time volunteer, was amazed by the courage shown by members of his family cluster. “The space encourages authenticity,” he commented. “To get the best results, you have to be true to yourself.”

Although the concept of being vulnerable was intimidating, the student participants were up to the task. “Stepping into this experience was daunting; it was far from my comfort zone,” said Aakanksha Vyawahare, MHSA/MBA ’26. However, the experience was well worth it in the end. “It opened my eyes to the essence of leadership, allowing me to delve deeper into my own values, vision, and sense of self. The connections I forged, the friendships I made, and the mentors I encountered were invaluable. They guided me through my leadership dilemmas and helped me uncover my unique strengths.”

At the end of the week, Vivano and Marques reflected on their experiences. “Vulnerability has such a positive impact on people,” said Marques. “By modeling that behavior and sharing your story, you give others permission to do the same.” 

For students interested in developing their leadership skills on campus, Sanger programs are offered throughout the academic year. Identify and clarify your values in Legacy Lab, learn to communicate with impact at Story Lab, or join the Ross Leaders Academy (RLA) to gain a deeper understanding of your identity and purpose.

Applications for LeaderShape 2025 will open during the fall semester.