The Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) is a leadership-development and academic cohort program serving first- and second-year students from "historically underrepresented and marginalized groups."[1]  The ELP started as the Jump Start Program in 2009.  It evolved into the Emerging Leaders Program in 2011.  Cohorts typically range from fifteen to thirty incoming first‐year students, who have demonstrated leadership potential in high school (e.g., student clubs, marching band, sports, etc.).

The goals of the Emerging Leaders Program are to support and retain students from historically underrepresented and marginalized racial and ethnic communities through community-building and wraparound mentoring.  These goals are achieved by way of Pre-Orientation week activities; staff and peer mentoring; ELP-dedicated First-Year Seminars; and yearlong professional development and leadership workshops.  Pre-Orientation establishes the tone of the Emerging Leader experience.  It introduces students to the academic rigors of college via a mini-seminar on difference, equity, and social justice and peer-to-peer writing workshops; helping students navigate a primarily white upper middle-class student population; connecting students with dynamic support system of ELP peers, staff, and faculty; providing interactive community-building and social activities; and familiarizing students with critical on-campus resources, such as the Trexler Library, the Academic Resource Center, the Office of Community Engagement, and the Career Center.  The peer mentoring component pairs each student with an Emerging Leader from a previous cohort, while the staff mentor offers an outlet to discuss, question, or vent about topics (e.g., interpersonal, familial, financial, etc.) that students traditionally feel uncomfortable raising with faculty advisors.  First-year Emerging Leaders are advised by ELP faculty often in collaboration with an Academic Resource Center staff member.  Together, they assist with registering for classes, developing effective time management skills, introducing innovative note-taking and study strategies, and connecting students with other on-campus resources and opportunities, including leadership roles in extracurricular organizations.

The Emerging Leaders Program is built on the principle of race and ethnic-based cohort programming.  It is not a remediation program nor does it operate from a deficit model.  Race and ethnic-based cohort initiatives are grounded in social psychological and student affairs research.  The "sense of belonging" (or the lack thereof) is a major factor determining Black and Latinx student success.  It is a greater influence than both high school preparedness and socio-economic status.[2]  Race and ethnic-based cohort programs, like the ELP, engenders a sense of belonging and security for historically underrepresented and marginalized students at primarily white institutions (PWI), which translates into greater academic achievement, increased participation in on-campus leadership, and ironically, more meaningful and voluntary integration.

April 7, 2016
Frederick Staidum, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of English and Africana Studies
Works Cited/Working Bibliography