Monday, January 4, 2016

Leadership Retreat Empowers UNO Students to Get Involved, Strengthen Skills

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Michael Merwin arrived at University of New Orleans as a freshman from Florida knowing no one.

It wasn’t until his second semester that he decided it might benefit him to start getting involved in some of the 130 student organizations UNO has to offer. His delay didn’t make the transition easy, he says.

Now a junior, Merwin helps new students connect with others earlier in their journey. As one of the planners of UNO’s annual off-campus leadership retreat, he helps give students intensive leadership training that can help them succeed.

“The goal with this retreat is to get them there quicker,” said Merwin, retreat co-chair and vice president of retreats for the UNO Leadership Cabinet.

The three-day weekend get-away, which was held Nov. 13-15 at Camp Wesley Pines in Hazlehurst, Miss., aims to immerse students in workshops and exercises designed to build skills and form relationships that will open doors and broaden opportunities now and in the future.

Seventy-nine students attended this year. More than half of them were off-campus students and about half were freshmen or sophomores, according to Merwin’s count.

Sponsored by the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership and organized by the Leadership Cabinet, the weekend featured workshops on how to handle adversity, rising above the gender gap and introductions to many of the on-campus opportunities already available to UNO students.

Dale O’Neill, director of student involvement and leadership at UNO, said surveys showed that participants particularly enjoyed tackling a high ropes course available to them, gathering around the campfire and meeting new people.

The retreat is held at a nominal cost to students—just $10 with transportation provided—and is just one of many opportunities UNO offers to help students get acclimated, gain new skills and push themselves to become better and stronger campus leaders.

For more information on opportunities available through the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership Click here.