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What I learned at the MSFAA Leadership Symposium

Monday, May 15, 2017 7:34 AM | Leighanne Denja (Administrator)


Author: Nicole Martinez, WMU


I was so pleased to participate in the MSFAA Leadership Symposium 2017: Find your Voice, Invest in your Future, held in Dearborn on May 4th and 5th. In our positions as financial aid administrators it can be difficult to find the time to attend to ourselves but the symposium encouraged us to focus our personal and professional wellbeing as we work to develop into effective leaders.

All participants engaged in a great deal of self-evaluation and personal reflection. With holistic wellness in mind, we learned of ways to stay well in the workplace and encourage others to be mindful of their wellness also.  We had the opportunity to take two personality inventories, one that matched our personalities to various animals (I didn’t know I had badger-like qualities!) and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) as well. Amy, from Eastern Michigan University’s Human Resources department, led an afternoon of interactive discussion on the MBTI, which encouraged us to reflect on our own personality types and the types of others. Not only did this provide insight into our own tendencies, but it also gave us a context to understand the communication styles of others and how these preferences can impact our interactions at home and at work.  We ended our time together with a conversation around social identity and how our perceptions of ourselves and of others can impact the work we do as leaders in higher education.

In our two days together we ate well, enjoyed socializing in the President’s suite, and worked as teams (successfully or not) to free ourselves from an “escape room” in Novi. Most importantly, I found the symposium to be a time to meet new people, learn new ideas and focus on how I can contribute to the future of MSFAA. The leaders of MSFAA and of the symposium sessions were enthusiastic, insightful and welcomed us all to become involved! I found my colleagues to be smart and engaging individuals who are passionate about what they do and eager to learn what more they can do to contribute to the organization and to their institutions.

I left the symposium feeling upbeat and energetic for the future. I was able to take a little time for myself, consider my own voice and consider how to best use my energy in the future. As a participant in the MSFAA Leaders of Tomorrow group, my work to develop my leadership skills was begun at the symposium but will go on with a cohort of other professionals throughout the upcoming year. I couldn’t be more excited to learn more and continue on this newly begun path of leadership.


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