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SBU's Penland recognized by Growing Leaders

nate-penlandBOLIVAR, Mo. — Nathan Penland, director of student activities at Southwest Baptist University, was recently recognized by Growing Leaders, which works to help students become leaders who will transform society.

“Growing Leaders was founded by Dr. Tim Elmore as a means to encourage and develop young adults as they grow in the classroom, careers and society,” said Dr. Rob Harris, vice president for student development at SBU. “Their purpose is achieved by partnering and collaborating with individuals who are responsible for influencing and teaching young adults. Dr. Elmore has developed many relationships with businesses, sport teams, secondary schools and colleges/universities.”

Shortly after being named director of student activities in 2009, Penland was introduced to Elmore and the resources that Growing Leaders provide. One of the resources Penland uses for incoming freshmen is the series “Habitudes.”

After using “Habitudes” for the first year with Welcome Week students, Penland pitched the idea of its continued use within the University Success Center courses, and the USC has continued to use the book during the students’ first semester. The book also is sent to all incoming freshmen during the summer months with a request that they read the booklet prior to their arrival on campus.

“We had two challenges,” Penland told Growing Leaders about what led to the need for the book. “The first was for our student leaders on campus. They came to college not being equipped and confident to lead meetings and their peers. We needed tools and resources to train them to handle the struggles they’ll face each semester.

“The second was for our new student orientation. We needed a new first-year reader – a book that would help an incoming student transition to our campus. Our old first-year reader was too heavy of a read and students didn’t engage with it.”

Having “Habitudes” as a resource has been beneficial in numerous ways. Penland has noticed an increase in self-awareness among student leaders, which has helped him broaden his efforts in developing student leadership.

“With the help of ‘Habitudes,’ these students can really help each other and encourage each other to be better leaders,” Penland said.