Emerging Leaders Experience

Each fall for the past three years, ACU’s Emerging Leaders Experience has welcomed new students into the university community with a challenge: How will you intentionally grow and develop as a Christ-centered leader while a student at ACU?

Led by Dr. Jan Meyer and other staff and student mentors, ELE members connect regularly for the purpose of growth. They share their leadership experiences, read and discuss what it means to have a Christ-centered focus in leadership, and engage in projects that challenge and develop leadership ideas and abilities as they begin their ACU careers.

For this year’s ELE participants, the opportunity to engage at CitySquare has provided a uniquely focused leadership project. Conversations about service, poverty, faith and leadership weave together. Questions raised in these conversations challenge assumptions, challenge practices, and challenge what leaders could or should do when the opportunity to help or influence for change arises.

The vision for ELE’s CitySquare experience is to see what CitySquare is doing, to walk alongside those who lead and serve there, and to ask lots of questions. The ELE group will spend time in Dallas at CitySquare and then return to Abilene, where they will consider how to apply principles and practices observed at CitySquare. What is being done to address poverty here? Who is involved in the conversations or the activities designed to respond to Abilene’s needs? The ultimate question, “What might WE do?” will flow from these questions and the research to seek initial answers.

Looking to CitySquare as a potential model, the Emerging Leaders mentors will design a process through which they will ask and seek answers to the questions that come from their CitySquare experience. This experience of observing, questioning and then researching to compare and contrast similarities and needs will provide ELE students with critical thinking tools that can be applied across a wide range of leadership and service responsibilities. The greatest benefit, however, may be the legacy that ELE student leaders will pass on to subsequent generations of ACU student leaders after casting an initial vision for how students can become involved in the poverty issues and answers that exist in Abilene.

Students involved in ELE apply in the months before their freshmen year and are selected on the basis of their application and previous leadership experiences. The Emerging Leaders Experience will include six seminars and two service-oriented projects over the course of the year, all designed to challenge and equip students to be leaders on the ACU campus and in the Abilene community.