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 Region’s community colleges eyed as potential future sites

December 30, 2011 (El Cajon) -- A two-day seminar at Cuyamaca College offers students important lessons outside the traditional academic subjects. In this class, students at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges learn how to lead. 

The students invited to take part in the Community College Leadership Academy include student government representatives and others recommended by administrators. The free training is designed to help students develop their leadership and interpersonal communication skills through a curriculum created by the Ken Blanchard Company, nationally acclaimed authorities on leadership development.

The sessions are adapted from the corporate leadership materials used worldwide by organizations and businesses, including many Fortune 500 companies, said Linda Waring, director of the Workplace Learning Resource Center at Cuyamaca, which sponsors the seminars. The program is supported by a combination of a workforce and economic development grant from the state chancellor’s office, donations of books and materials from the Blanchard Foundation, and marketing and recruiting efforts of business partners and the college’s student services division.

“These workshops are highly interactive and help students apply leadership skills to ensure greater success in reaching their college and career goals,” Waring said, adding that the students receive a certificate from the Ken Blanchard Co. valued at $1,400 to enhance their resumes.

By teaching students to take the initiative to become leaders, the training helps them better prepare for today’s challenging job market.

Erin Miller, president of Cuyamaca College’s student government, said the sessions helped her overcome a fear of public speaking with the credo that a negative past experience shouldn’t  get in the way of tackling new challenges. It also made her a better person, she said.

One of the biggest things that I got out of the Leadership Academy was knowing how to take charge of my life by making the right decisions,” Miller said.

Interspersed between traditional lectures and discussions are activities such as tossing rubber animal toys, a juggling routine and a card trick that seems to give players ESP. Besides adding a dash of quirkiness and fun, these activities are meant to demonstrate different learning and leadership styles and to transform negative thinking into can-do attitudes.

“This is a great opportunity for students to cultivate leadership skills that will benefit them throughout their academic and professional careers,” said district Chancellor Cindy L. Miles. “On top of that, future employers will know that in hiring our graduates with the Ken Blanchard certification, they are gaining self-directed, motivated workers.”

Waring first came across a student leadership program at Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana, where she is an adjunct instructor. Excited about introducing a similar program locally, she discovered that leadership training for students was rarely available at California community colleges.

“While it is common in the university systems, it’s almost non-existent among community colleges,” said
 Lauren Weiner, associate dean of student affairs at Cuyamaca College. “With the economy undergoing changes, many people are coming back to community colleges to learn new skills and to become more employable. It makes a lot of sense to bring a leadership training program to our two-year campuses to help make students more attractive to employers.”

Waring contacted the Ken Blanchard Co., producers of bestselling book, “One Minute Manager,” and began working with its foundation and Jennifer Zingg, the company’s director of youth leadership who had developed the curriculum “Situational Leadership for College Students.”

In February, the first local instructors – Cuyamaca and Grossmont faculty and staff members – were trained to teach the seminars. In May, 19 students from the two colleges completed the training and in late October, another 18 received their Blanchard certificates. Ten students are already on a waiting list for the spring 2012 session. 

Waring is encouraging other community colleges to adapt the program for their campuses. A training program for college faculty and staff will be offered Nov. 30 through Dec. 1. For more information on the leadership academy, contact Waring at (619) 660-4508 or

For more information about Cuyamaca and Grossmont colleges, go to


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