UW Retirement Association

Mentoring Future Leaders – The Husky Leadership Initiative

Sami Bailey - Husky Leadership Certificate Recipient

Sami Bailey – Husky Leadership Certificate Recipient

In our hectic lives, how much would we give for moments of reflection – about experiences that matter, our place in the cosmos, or simply our thoughts about where the world is headed? And what if we could share those moments with an eager, intelligent and socially aware college student who would bring an infusion of enthusiasm, idealism and optimism to that discussion?

This is the opportunity afforded to mentors in the UW’s Husky Leadership Certificate Program. A component of the Husky Leadership Initiative, it brings together eager undergraduates with seasoned mentors to discuss the student’s recent experiences and projects that are meant to deepen the student’s understanding of who leaders are and how they lead.

Participants describe the mentoring experience as a quintessential win-win arrangement. “Our discussions were relaxed and informal,” says Samantha “Sami” Bailey, a senior majoring in public health. Her mentor was Michaelann Jundt, associate dean of undergraduate academic affairs. Mentors are not limited to current faculty or staff; retirees are invited to apply.  “We discussed my feelings about the projects I was engaged in,” Bailey says.  “Because this occurred in 2016 and 2017, a lot of our discussions ended up touching on the presidential campaign.  Michaelann’s views are very practical and she was open in our discussions. I was especially grateful when she referred me to other people at the university with whom I could explore some subjects at a deeper level. She was definitely someone I want in my circle of advisers.”

Jundt, who has been involved with the leadership program since its inception five years ago, sees it as much more than a service to students. “It has given me an opportunity to reflect on my own experiences regarding leadership, on campus and in the community. It’s rare to have time to reflect on how you interact with coworkers and others with whom you come in contact.”

Jundt describes Bailey as one of the mentees with whom she has established a particularly deep bond that likely will last beyond Bailey’s time on campus. “The mentoring experience is special because although I work in a student-focused unit I normally don’t have the opportunity to develop relationships with individual students.  So for me this is especially satisfying.”

Bailey’s experiences for the certificate program included spending time in Chile, volunteering through the service learning option by working with Planned Parenthood VOTE, and working on leadership issues in her sorority, Sigma Kappa. “Planned Parenthood allowed me for the first time to work in grass roots politics,” she says. “It made me realize that all political change begins at the local level.”

In Chile, Bailey delved into such concepts as power dynamics — the historical relationships between US and other countries. “I learned that the use of our country’s power can have both good and bad outcomes. In some cases, the intent may have been good but the outcome was bad for many people. I learned that other countries’ view of the US is influenced strongly by being on the receiving end of US power.”

Within her sorority, Bailey’s experience of leadership helped clarify her ideas about what it means to her. “There are many different kinds and styles of leadership. I know that my leadership style is strongly influenced by my personality and experiences. Everyone brings their own qualities to leadership opportunities. And everyone can be a leader.

“My experiences, and the opportunity to reflect on them with the help of my mentor, have changed my perspective on leadership. I know now that when I lead I will do it in my own way.”

“We’re fortunate to be able to work with such amazing young people,” says Jundt. “They are thoughtful, energetic, full of ideas, and optimistic. Working with them will make you feel good about the future of the world.”

by Bob Roseth, Retired Director of UW Office of News and Information