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Summit teaches leadership lessons to students from across state

Shanna Morgan works through a leadership exercise at Pine Valley Recreation Complex on May 21 during the Leaving a Legacy of Leadership Summit.

A blindfolded Shanna Morgan leaned on her teammates' guidance to traverse three wooden stands and the boards serving as bridges for the few feet between them during a leadership exercise at Pine Valley Recreation Complex.

The symbolism was not lost on Morgan, a University of North Georgia (UNG) senior pursuing an international affairs degree. She was one of almost 50 students from across the state who participated in the Leaving a Legacy of Leadership (L3) Summit from May 20-23 on UNG's Dahlonega Campus.

"When I was blindfolded, there was no point in me talking, because I couldn't see what was going on. It gave me the ability to step back, listen and follow versus leading other people," said Morgan, who is from Buford, Georgia. "So it was nice to take the backseat and trust in my team that they could successfully get me from point A to point B."

It reminded her of the value of support, trust and knowledge that she wasn't alone.

Student leaders from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Clayton State University, Columbus State University, College of Coastal Georgia, Dalton State College, Georgia Gwinnett College, Kennesaw State University, Piedmont College, and the University of Georgia joined their UNG counterparts for the four-day event. The students' schools chose them for the leadership development summit, which helps them devise legacy projects for their institutions that were presented on the final day.

Morgan, who works as a resident assistant (RA), hopes to organize a system to encourage investment by RAs in their work and residence directors in their RAs.

The L3 Summit used the Ethical Lens Inventory, led by Rose Procter, director of UNG's BB&T Center for Ethical Leadership, to help students construct legacy projects that summit leaders hope will make a positive change at their schools. The inventory focuses on the various perspectives people bring to an issue and how to use those different lenses to accomplish goals together.

Fifteen UNG staff planned and executed the summit, while 15 peer mentors from some of the participants' schools helped lead the students during the week.

Frank Wilder, a UNG junior pursuing a general studies degree with concentrations in psychology and business, is also an RA. He said the students at the summit provided positive peer influence with their high expectations for each other.

"There's a lot of accountability and a lot of self-awareness. People are calling each other out on things in a positive way," said Wilder, who is from Forsyth, Georgia. "Everybody works well together. It doesn't matter what university you're from."

UNG also offered leadership training for seven advisers of the students who participated in the L3 Summit. Aubrey Frazier, director of Fraternity and Sorority Life at UNG, directed the summit this year. She said the summit is further evidence of why UNG has been designated a state leadership institution by the University System of Georgia.

"This is our opportunity to give back to the state with the resources we have and highlight our commitment to leadership," Frazier said.

Amelia Keener, a UNG sophomore pursuing a degree in English with a concentration in writing and publication, said the summit's lessons will stick with her while working in Supplemental Instruction on UNG's Gainesville Campus.

"The activities have helped us see different aspects of leadership, especially teamwork and communication," said Keener, who is from Gainesville, Georgia. "It's stuff that you wouldn't have thought of as much before, but you become more aware of it."

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