Inside USD

Torero-Born Leaders

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Seniors Farrah Coltrain and Nick Collins are two of the many fine examples of a University of San Diego student leader. They’re actively committed to their fellow Toreros; both are humble in their leadership approach; they embrace campus inclusion and balance academics with attendance at campus events and in committees. They live the USD mission, especially the “preparing leaders dedicated to ethical conduct and compassionate service” part.

Soon, though, they’ll be Torero alumni. They might be graduating in May, but the work that Coltrain and Collins have put in at USD these last four years — the leadership skills they’ve gained and campus experiences they’ve had — has helped them find a post-graduation role.

Coltrain, who served as the first president of USD’s Kappa Delta sorority chapter, Zeta Rho, has been selected by her national organization as one of its 14 leadership development consultants for the academic year 2014-15. Collins, who completed his term as president of USD’s Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter last fall, will serve as a regional director for his fraternity’s national organization in 2014-15.

While their exact assignments and locations are still to be determined, both students are eager for what’s ahead.

“I’ll get more professional development and challenge myself on a leadership level that is a whole different environment than what I’m used to,” said Collins, who has been with Sigma Phi Epsilon since Spring 2011.

A Communication Studies major and marketing, business administration and management minor, Coltrain, who helped launch her USD chapter in November 2012, said her new opportunity will provide a unique adventure regardless of what she’ll be doing.

“There are two options; I could be stationed at one chapter to help them colonize or I’ll be a consultant who travels to different places. I’m looking forward to a third year of interacting with collegians. I’m excited to develop and grow. I’ve not done a lot of traveling so it will be interesting to see what the rest of the country holds.”

Both students felt they earned their new positions due to the development they received while at USD. They said getting these roles means a lot to them because they’ll be representing USD on a larger stage.

“I think the fact that we were both chosen to represent a national organization is such a huge reflection on USD as a campus. Not only were we involved in Greek Life, but in so many different things on campus,” said Coltrain, who has been on Torero Program Board for three years (currently Vice Chair of Main Events), participated in the Resident Hall Association, student hearings, worked in athletics and currently works in USD’s Office of Alumni Relations. “We were able to talk to them about the many different things we’ve done and to articulate our leadership. I think it helped set us apart.”

Collins, a political science major and Italian and English minor, has served as a resident assistant (RA), worked in the International Center and, like Coltrain, has been a Torero Program Board executive team member.

“It’s such a huge, humbling thing to be selected as a regional director. I’d heard there were 150 students for 12 positions and, at one point, there were four openings and they were looking at 80,” Collins said. “To go through that experience reflects huge on the leaders USD has produced. What’s special about USD is that this community is so strong and so community-oriented; it really does build ethical leaders. Everything you do on this campus, the question is always asked, ‘how does this fit in with our USD mission and values?’”

Another benefit has been Coltrain and Collins’ interactions with on-campus mentors and representatives from their national chapters, including those who’ve been in the roles they’ll assume later this year.

Coltrain was new to sorority life and the logistics involved with launching Zeta Rho, so she worked very closely with leadership development consultants and a chapter advisory board member. She also leaned on experienced USD staff members such as Student Organizations and Greek Life Director Mandy Womack and graduate assistant Sam Keil for answers to her questions because there wasn’t a past president to ask. Coltrain also appreciated the unwavering support her fellow sorority members gave her along the way.

“Every girl in the chapter was there for me,” she said. “Whenever I’d hit a road bump, I always felt supported and that helped me push through it.”

Collins thanked mentors such as Ryan Jacobsen, a 1999 alumnus and the last Sigma Phi Epsilon from USD to serve as a regional director, and John Cutter, a 2013 grad who had initially recruited Collins to the fraternity.

“I’ve worked with three regional directors and developed good relationships and they were among those who encouraged me to apply for this position,” Collins said. “I’ve had a lot of experience with the national fraternity. I’ve gone to most of the leadership consortium events or facilitated at most of them. I went to Conclave last year, the biannual convention where they elect the new governing board, and I was on the committee that selected our Grand President. It was very cool to have that experience, to network and meet all of the big wigs.”

Come this fall, Collins and Coltrain will be the ones others look to for guidance and support. Both students, through their vast experiences at USD, appear ready for the task.

— Ryan T. Blystone

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