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University of Iowa News Release


Dec. 15, 2008

Freshmen learn leadership skills from UI President Mason

This fall, (STUDENT NAME) of (HOMETOWN) was one of 30 incoming, first-year students at the University of Iowa who completed a leadership class taught by UI President Sally Mason.

The President's Leadership Class was an opportunity for freshmen to discover new leadership opportunities at the UI and build on their previous leadership experience. It met Tuesdays during the fall semester, from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the president's residence, with some sessions held at the Iowa Memorial Union and Levitt Center. The class marked the first time a UI president had taught this kind of course, and the first one Mason had taught at the university. Clarissa Cigrand of Monticello, Iowa, observed Mason's leadership style firsthand through the class.

"The most important thing I learned from the class was how dynamic and ever-reaching leadership is. It considers your ability to not only lead, but to influence, inspire, encourage and facilitate change. I hold this class in high esteem because I have already gained transferable skills that can be applied to a wide number of pursuits. I gained critical insight into being a leader, whether in the classroom, workplace, or a group of individuals who share common goals," Cigrand said.

Highlights of the class included a trip to Des Moines, where they met Gov. Chet Culver, and joining Mason in the president's box at Kinnick Stadium to watch the Hawkeyes play.

The game was the highlight of the class for Megan Sarlina, a freshman from Warrenville, Ill.

"I was on cloud nine the ENTIRE game, surrounded by extremely influential people and had a perfect view of the game while feasting the best food I have ever tasted. What more could I ask for?" said Sarlina.

Class activities included four panels, where the students talked with university administration, alumni, local and state political leaders, and current student leaders. In addition, students dined at the president's residence after class with Mason once during the semester.

"The President's Leadership Class was a joy to teach. It connected me with students in a way that only the teaching-learning relationship can. We knew that the students selected for the class were talented, but they were also wonderfully engaged and eager to know more about leadership, our university, our community, and our state," Mason said. "Leadership is an increasingly important skill for university students to develop, and I am honored to be part of that educational process. The performance of the students in our class assured me that our future is in very good hands, and we will see many talented young leaders contributing to the betterment of society in the years to come."

The students not only made connections with their fellow classmates, but with university leaders as well.

"They had an amazing opportunity to interact with university and state officials on a level that few students get the chance to. They expanded their leadership knowledge through leadership inventories, teambuilding activities and discussion of leadership theories, and learned how President Mason applies leadership at UI," said Tara Edberg, assistant director for Leadership Development Programs in the Office of Student Life.

"The most important thing I learned in this class was the emphasis on collaboration," Sarlina said. "I have met some of my best friends in this class -- not to mention I have had the opportunity to develop relationships with some of the highest authoritative figures of this university."

Bri Bakken of Humboldt, Iowa, had two memorable experiences. Bakken enjoyed an etiquette dinner, where students were taught dining skills used in social situations, and was impressed with UI Provost Wallace Loh's presentation during a panel discussion, where he also shared his remarkable life story.

"The saying that two heads are better than one is definitely true. Leadership requires a team effort, and as a team we can accomplish so much more," Bakken said.

The Office of Student Life, in conjunction with Student Services, coordinated the class with Mason. More than 250 first-year students applied for the 30 spots. The students were chosen for the class after submitting applications that included their GPA, leadership activities and honors, and an essay about their leadership philosophy. The UI admissions office helped select the initial group of invitees based on their academic record and previous leadership experience.

Mason plans to teach the class every fall semester and hopes that many student government officers will come out of the class.

EDITOR: Class participants are listed alphabetically by hometown, with Iowa recipients listed first and those from other states following. Photos of students are available on request.

Bettendorf: Joseph Sumhlei
Cedar Rapids: Saphia Waheed, Adam Koolbeck
Center Junction: Kevin Paulsen
Clive: Kevin Keating
Des Moines: Don Wilkes
Dubuque: Benjamin Goldberg
Fort Dodge: Jay Bunte
Humboldt: Brianne Bakken
Indianola: Brian Campbell
Iowa City: Owen Sessions
Marion: Tanvi Inani
Monticello: Clarissa Cigrand
Odebolt: Mark Heidenreich
Parkersburg: Brittany Brannon
Pella: Rutviben Patel
Postville: Barbara McMullan Sioux City
Sioux City: Long Nguyen, Shoua Greigg
Solon: Emily Adair

Chicago Heights: Jessica Alston
Deerfield: Robert McHugh
Naperville: Stephen McLean
Warrenville: Megan Sarlina

Brunswick: John Whelan

Bangor: Persephone Hansen

Essex: Lindsey Cambridge

North Oaks: Ellen Dahlquist

Chesterfield: Carlton Dick

Durham: Kate Christensen

SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Tara Edberg, Office of Student Life, 319-335-3059,; George McCrory, University News Services, 319-384-0012,