Columbia College, home to emerging leaders

Emerging Leaders Institute connects and energizes students and the community

Kristina King and Thanh Nguyen couldn't be more different. She is from mid-Missouri; he is from Vietnam. She wants to help students succeed in college; he is itching to transform the world of online marketing.

And they couldn't be more alike.

Both are Columbia College business administration students scheduled to graduate next year. Both are bright, personable and ambitious. And both are new Emerging Leaders Institute (ELI) members

Transforming students to leaders
ELI is a comprehensive leadership experience. Participating students make a three-semester commitment and in return, receive a scholarship at the conclusion of the semesters. The goal of ELI is to provide expanded opportunities for students to become involved leaders on campus, in the community and at the regional, state and national levels.

2010 ELI students include:
  • Brittani Alexander
  • Sarah Anderson
  • Colette Battagler
  • Danielle Hart
  • Kristina King
  • Elias Lucas
  • Jennifer Mantler
  • Thanh Nguyen
  • Jillian Rathert
  • Laura Ruyle
  • Jordan Unger
  • Paula Willis
  • Pam Zimmerle

Kristina King
King, of Waynesville, Mo., is the daughter of Columbia College–Fort Leonard Wood director Dr. David King and is minoring in music. She was a community consultant for three years and has experience in helping new students transition into college life. King wants to earn a master's degree in student affairs to help incoming freshman at Columbia College or another well-recognized institution.

Thanh Nguyen
Nguyen is from Da Lat City, about 230 miles north of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. He is already a professional, working within the institution to offer his marketing and computer science knowledge; and managing documents, security and the Web site for a Virginia insurance firm. Nguyen says he wants to help businesses better communicate and integrate online marketing. In addition, he wants to work in corporate America or start a business of his own.

In Vietnam or America? "I'd like to go back and forth," he says in excellent English.

The importance of community
The goal of the Institute is to help both achieve their dreams and become leaders in their own right. Columbia College, like most institutions, has observed the marked decline in community participation and students' reluctance to assume or aspire to leadership positions. Unlike other institutions, Columbia College did something about it by launching ELI in 2003. Since 2003, the program has launched 51 students into leadership and 27 students are currently participating.

Designed as a three part program, ELI’s overriding purpose is to cultivate student leadership and community involvement. Interested students submit an application and undergo an interview to be selected. Because of the highly interactive nature of the program, a maximum of 15 students is selected. If selected, students must make a three-semester commitment to the program.

In the first semester, ELI students take Introduction to Leadership for college credit. In the second semester, students learn to become a change agent and foster growth in their community. And in the third semester, ELI students are paired with a community mentor in the student’s career field.

Both King and Nguyen say they are grateful to ELI and Columbia College for the chance to achieve their potential. Of herself, Nguyen and the other Emerging Leaders Institute members, King says, "We were selected because we can all be leaders."