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A Positive Direction

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 Author and Education Activist, Jonathan Kozol

Written By:
Brooke Burianek '14, Tigers on Tour Student

Getting my letter of acceptance into the Directions Program was one of the most exciting things about the summer before beginning my freshman year at Doane College. I remember opening the envelope, seeing those words of congratulations and proceeding to jump up and down with maybe a few squeals of delight. The Directions Program was one of the most rewarding and fun things I was involved with during my freshman year at Doane.

The Directions program is a leadership organization for incoming freshman who want to continue to be a leader at Doane College. Carrie Petr, the Director of the Hansen Leadership Program (HLP) since 2009, selects 51 incoming first year students each year to join Directions. The hopeful students fill out an application for acceptance, which includes an essay portion, a letter of recommendation, and a resumé of service and leadership involvement.

"My role allows me to meet wonderful, talented students who are eager to lead their peers. This group is bright and fun to be around, and watching them grow through their time at Doane is very rewarding," said Petr.

The students have the opportunity to live in a suite in Hansen Hall with other Directions members and the group also attends weekly seminars and monthly workshops to expand and strengthen their leadership skills. They are required to attend a certain number of speakers that the HLP brings to campus during the fall and spring semesters. Past speakers have included Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS shoes, Jonathan Kozol, author and education activist, and Lisa Shannon, author and founder of Run for Congo Women, along with many more.

Throughout the year, the Direction students choose, develop, and complete a community service project. My Directions group chose to make tie blankets for hospitals and senior centers.

"This year, each suite will work on a project together, planning, organizing and executing the project. We thought it would provide a service to the greater Crete area while giving the Directions students a chance to use the leadership skills they have gained," noted Petr.

Another special part of being included in this prestigious group is the opportunity to have an upper-class peer mentor who is an alum of the Directions program and meets with their current Directions student once a week to check up on how they are adjusting to college life, how their classes are going, and to help them learn the ins and outs of Doane College. I was blessed to have Kimberly Pierce '11 Ideus as my mentor during my first year as a Directions member. On the other side, I was also a mentor for Alyssa Bouc. Both roles gave me a wonderful opportunity to grow and learn.

The Directions Program is just one of the many unique experiences I have had the privilege of enjoying while here at Doane. It is exciting to see it expand every year to include even more students and for them to take on new tasks and challenges.