Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Bahl To Have First Ever Graduating Class

2015 is a special year for the bachelor of arts in humanities for leadership program at Seattle University. In mid-June, the program will see its first ever graduating class take the stage at commencement.

Students create their own definition of leadership within this program.
“You can be a leader in anything, so the leadership is sort of like an umbrella,” said program coordinator Elizabeth Layton. “The student determines where they want to specialize; it could be public affairs, arts, media, journalism—it could be a lot of different things. That’s how they get to individualize their degree.”

When it comes to the humanities aspect, “it’s about what it means to be human, then tying that in with what it means to be a leader, and then tying that into what it means to be a leader in a specific area. It’s layered. So that’s how it ties into being in the humanities college overall,” Layton said.

Founded in 2011 by Serena Cosgrove, the program has flourished over the past couple of years, developing into what it is today. This interdisciplinary degree is the only undergraduate leadership degree of its kind on the west coast, which makes this first graduation that much more exciting and meaningful.

“It’s been pretty experimental because they’ve never taught the classes before we’ve had them, really,” said senior humanities for leadership major Helen Packer.

What comes with that is the ability for the students to help shape the program as it develops. The goal of the degree is to teach people how to be just and ethical leaders and that goal is accomplished by having the students play an active role in the creation of the program itself.

Humanities for leadership senior Katie Speed spoke of the program’s emphasis of encouraging students to think in ways that correspond to different disciplines. According to Speed, she has gained many skills from the program, including communication skills.

“We did a lot of public speaking… but also philosophy and things like that, which I’m really interested in, so I love that part of it,” Speed said.

Senior Ian Carrick said he gained a stronger sense of self-awareness
and self-reflection.

“That’s a big focus of the major,” Carrick said.

Between practicing public speaking and group work skills, the students not only learn what it means to be in facilitation, but they also gain a real understanding of their place in the world.

The program also has a senior year internship requirement. According to Elizabeth Layton, students have been to Ireland, Indonesia, Dublin, Bosnia and New York.

Packer interned in Bosnia with an international media NGO, where she worked as an editor, editing reports for small media outlets to aid them in receiving grants.

“Being able to edit the reports and see how it all worked was really cool, and super relevant to my previous classes in my humanities for leadership major about organizational culture,” she said.

Carrick studied in Sumatra, Indonesia with a land rights advocacy organization.

“As far as an experience goes, it was amazing,” Carrick said. “I miss the people. I want to go back very much. Their leadership, community and music is really inspiring.”

Speed, who is interested in women’s issues, went to Dublin, Ireland and interned at a women’s shelter.

“It was amazing, I loved it. I’m so glad I was a part of it. I think I gained a lot from just the internship itself. Having the background from the major and going abroad senior year was great, I’m glad they planned it that way,” she said.

After graduation, Packer is moving to Australia for a year in August, and will then apply for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, hopefully in South Korea.

“Moving abroad and putting myself in uncomfortable positions intentionally inspires me to grow and to write,” she said.

Speed plans to work and travel, and hopes to go to Mexico. She is also considering law school later down the line. Carrick will be volunteering at VoiceWorks summer camp in Port Townsend, WA immediately after graduation. Then he will be working at a goat dairy farm in rural Oregon, and eventually moving back to Seattle in the fall to pursue his passions of music and growing food in the city.

As the humanities for leadership program prepares to graduate their first class, students reflected on their experiences.

“Being the first class, it’s definitely been difficult,” Speed said. “They’ve taken out classes that we have to take, and they’ve changed a lot of things, but I think it’s been cool to be a part of building something, and to make it better for people in the future.”

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