Saint Leo University thrives on helping students

January 22, 2008

Saint Leo University thrives on helping students

Saint Leo University thrives on helping students learn anywhere, at anytime, whether they want to take  a traditional class or enroll in a course from a distant office or military base. Learning can happen anywhere, anytime, we often say.

Monday we were reminded of another important lesson, that we can adopt the same mindset toward performing service work, and continually find ways to give back to our communities and nurture our society.

In fact, it’s vital that more people adopt the approach of a “servant leader,’’ and consistently work to better the world around them, inspirational speaker Patti Ramey told a campus crowd gathered Monday for the 2008 Martin Luther King, Jr. Servant Leadership Program.

Ramey spoke in depth during her morning session on ways people can learn to help their communities in everyday life. She reminded students of one of Dr. King’s lessons, that anyone can be great, because anyone can serve. Ramey’s audience had an opportunity to put her advice into practice in the afternoon by joining one of the groups of volunteers headed to different work sites on the university campus and in the nearby communities.  True to Ramey’s predictions, the community need is great. Thirty different sites had job for people willing to help with all kinds of tasks from mopping floors to reading to the blind.

It was important to Ramey that students see that they can help by making modest contributions.

Young people who may be used to feeling a constant pressure to be the best at whatever they attempt may draw back from such opportunities to lead through service, she said. They feel paralyzed because they don’t know how to attack a problem as vast as homelessness or hunger.  

 “You think you’re supposed to be perfect,' Ramey told her morning audience, but assured them otherwise, that community improvement happens through ripple effects and cumulative efforts.  “You don’t have to change the world. You just have to start where you’re at.'

It helps to find your passions in life and direct your energies to related causes, Ramey told the group. And it’s important to pay attention to 10 specific characteristics that make servant leaders effective. Many of the 10, it turns out, reflect the core values of Saint Leo (excellence, community, respect, personal development, responsible stewardship and integrity). And like the core values, they are principles that can we can apply in approaching almost any problem. Ramey described the principles this way, and offered some elaboration on each point:

Community – Value and support what is good in your community.

Foresight – Anticipate obstacles along your path or mission.

Healing – Be the person who reconciles rather than divides.

Growth – Pursue growth whether in finances, capabilities or spirituality.

Awareness – Know the issues in your community and society.

Listening – We often hear other people talk without listening hard enough to understand all they are saying.

Empathy – Be able to feel the emotions another person is feeling.

Stewardship – Get the work done without complaining.

Conceptualization – Create a vision of a better situation.

Persuasion – It is a tool to be used, not abused, to communicate a vision and speak for a community.