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Leadership Fellow Program Application

The Leadership Fellow program enables graduate students to develop self and others while serving as leadership coaches for Georgia Tech undergraduate students.

My application for this program is as followed:

Why is being a leadership coach / facilitator part of your personal development path?

As a Ph.D. student at Tech, I have a Teaching Assistant position for over 2 years. I tremendously enjoy interacting with my students, which motivates me to become a better instructor in college in the future. I have also served as a TA fellow with the Center for Teaching and Learning here at Georgia Tech. Being a leadership coach would help me round out my experience specifically in mentoring undergraduates, something that will undoubtedly be part of my professional career, outside of the classroom or the lab. I feel very passionate about helping students to succeed professionally, as a student, as well as personally.

Who has been a powerful influence in your life? What is one lesson that you learned from them that will make you an impactful leadership coach/facilitator?

My supervisor Ching-Hua Huang.

She is a wonderful mentor to me and an excellent leader for our research group. As a mentor, she recognizes differences in each group member and respect those differences; rather than standardizing how she works with each of us, she approaches us based on our individual traits. As a leader for our research group, she knows how to be a good role model while remaining relatable at the same time. She spends enough time to communicate with us biweekly to keep track our research progress as well as how we are doing as people (our emotional statuses) to ensure that we, as a group, keep working enthusiastically to achieve our academic or professional goal.

Why do you think that undergraduate students would benefit from individual/team leadership development?

Good leadership development in college is always important for students before entering the professional world. Effective leadership is not simply being “in charge” or “the boss”, but being responsible, confident, inspiring, patient, and more. Students are able to condition themselves to the pressures of being at the top of the pyramid in college during the program training by developing resilience, they will be better prepared for running the show in the real world.

Tell us about your best and worst team experiences. What did you learn from these experiences?

Worst Experience: When I first joined my group, there was a research project that required three of us graduate students to work together to run samples, analyze data, and report the data biweekly to our supervisor. We were always behind the deadline to report our results because each of us was not fully aware of his/her individual responsibilities, and the communication between members was very ineffective and delayed.

Best Experience: Last summer, with the Teaching Fellow program in Center for Teaching and Learning, I worked with as a group of 10 experienced TAs to develop 10 different workshops for new TAs in the following fall semester. We had detailed meeting plans and each one of us was highly motivated to join the program. We were each able to design a workshop based on our interests, and perfect and practice them with the help from all the other members.

What I learned from these experiences is to always set a clear agenda and write detailed descriptions of responsibilities assigned for each member, with deadlines. Also, it is crucial to make sure the whole team communicates well and is highly motivated to achieve the final goal.

Tell us about a time when you had to implement an unpopular decision. How did you motivate others to adopt your vision and move toward action?

During my fourth (current) semester as a TA for an environmental engineering laboratory course, I suggested to my supervisor to change the first module (of six) to a practice module. In past semesters, for many years, this first module is the first full lab report for students. In my previous TA experience, I realized that students always struggled a great deal in understanding lab report expectations, even with guidelines reviewed in class. I suggested to my advisor that we change the module 1 to practice module, where students could learn how to write a good report directly based on the module 1 experiment. This presented a challenge; there was no course support for this practice module, and this dramatically changed the course organization. However, I developed a detailed lesson plan including a presentation that explained requirements of technical writings for this specific course which included common mistakes that previous students made. I also had the students review and grade lab reports for module 1 from previous semesters, using rubrics. So far, we have received positive feedback from students and I’ve observed a marked improvement in the lab reports compared to previous semesters, which indicates that this change might be improving students’ report writing skills.

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