Inside USD

Empowering Trailblazers into Changemakers

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The world moves so fast that it seems too easy to miss out on critically important information for the long, sustained road ahead. Acquiring life knowledge is a constant action, but it’s a practice that begins at youth and when dreams are often just thoughts without too much foundation.

That’s where the University of San Diego’s Division of Professional and Continuing Education wants to contribute in the education development process. Trailblazers to Changemakers, running July 30-Aug. 3 at USD’s Manchester Executive Conference Center, gives high school-age students tools for individual and big-picture success in an intensive, but enlightening format.

“This is an academic offering that focuses on crucial life skills needed in college and throughout the participants’ professional and personal lives,” said Jackie Freiberg, EdD, a nonprofit leadership and management professor in the School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES) and one of two instructors for Trailblazers to Changemakers.

“It’s highly interactive, engaging, with individual exercises, video clips and hands-on activities,” she said. “We want to teach students to teach themselves to find out what makes them unique. A trailblazer sets a pace, is always slightly ahead of the pack and is setting a new benchmark. One aspect of that is being able to create your own opportunity in life. Being a Changemaker is another aspect of being a trailblazer, one that can make a positive impact on the world.”

The program, offered for a third consecutive summer, has added the Changemaker component for the first time, reflecting USD’s designation as an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus last September.

“This program has had a Changemaker feel to it the last two years,” said Jodi Waterhouse, director of corporate and professional programs. “Our Changemaker status and curriculum will reflect that.”

Freiberg and Lisa Gates, communications department chair at San Diego Christian College, will lead students through five days that enhance their skill-set and awareness of social responsibility. Topics include effective communication habits, leadership, personal branding, critical thinking, health and wellness, financial management, community service over self-interest, social media and presentation and interview skills.

The skills development will be encompassed by a project designed to help students learn more about themselves and see growth in their abilities, even at the conclusion of a five-day course that runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each weekday.

Freiberg said students start the week with a blank poster board and are asked to assess themselves currently and to display examples of their dreams as future Changemakers.

“We’ll add more to it each day and see the impact of it,” Freiberg said. “At the end of the program, the students will give a final presentation to the other students and family members.”

A student panel, featuring members of the previous two Trailblazer programs who are recent high school graduates and college-bound, will then close the week with motivational stories about their progress.

The end result, Freiberg said, is a “totally revised brand” for each student. “Once you know yourself better, you can begin to grow yourself.”

Waterhouse said there are still a few spots open for next week’s Trailblazers to Changemakers course. For more information and to register, click here or call (619) 260-5976.

— Ryan T. Blystone

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