The New Leadership Academy is a yearlong fellowship for individuals in higher education to build leadership skills with the goal of effectively enacting change within their institutions. Focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion fellows are connected with mentors and colleagues from all over the nation finding solutions to problems faced in the dynamic settings of institutions of higher education. The NLA retreat is a week-long conference held every year at the University of Michigan in the middle of June. This provides the opportunity to work hands-on with other fellows, intensively applying and building upon leadership capabilities.
It was a bit tiring, but very meaningful experience. Being a student at the University of Michigan, it was important to see what happens behind closed doors. Seeing the types of hoops and hurdles administrators and other university leaders have to go through in order to advocate for their students and diversity, it gave me insight how I, as a student, can work with staff to advocate change in our campus community.
Different schools have different structures and bureaucratic issues that makes initiatives that push for a more equitable environment difficult. Navigating the politics within schools and in the nation, advocacy regarding some issues in higher education are controversial; therefore, they are divisive and are hard to compromise. This is why such work is important because it creates a coalition of leaders striving to make a change, supporting each other to raise their voices for students without them.
Diversity within and access to higher education have the potential to transform our society. Extending this opportunity to others brings and fosters new talents, ideas, and innovation. It creates impactful leaders wanting to make the world a better place and give back to their communities so that this opportunity is passed on. I cannot stress enough the value of an education and I am honored to be part of the team at the National Forum of Higher Education for the Public Good.