Growing Our Leaders

Guest Correspondence

The future vitality and strength of our community is dependent on the leaders we begin to develop today. At the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, our institution plays a unique role in the process of introducing students to leadership activities that build their skills and commitment to our community.

I recently had the pleasure of addressing the subject of leader development while participating in a panel discussion hosted by the Suncoast Black Arts Collaborative on the Black Experience in the Arts in Higher Education at the Florida Studio Theater. Amidst a compelling discussion of the black experience in the arts at our institutions with Cross College Alliance leaders, academics, administrators and students, I was asked how we can ensure equitable leadership opportunities at the highest levels of our institutions. I believe the answer to that question is on our campuses today – we need to grow our own leaders.

We are growing the next generation of leaders at our institution. The future leaders of our businesses, college and community are enrolled with us today. We see students from all aspects of our community on campus every day gaining experience in the classroom and life. The students who begin their educational career at SCF are going to come back to us. We are creating that next generation of leaders by providing leadership opportunities in student government, clubs, athletics, theater and musical productions, or serving on committees that guide our institution. We want to inspire and grow those leaders, especially those from our female and under-represented student populations.

This is not a new role for SCF. Throughout our history – as Manatee Junior College, Manatee Community College and now SCF – our college has helped to inspire and develop leaders in our community. At the SCF Foundation’s scholarship luncheon earlier this month, I was able to look out from the podium and see our proud alumni – people who started with us, finished their education and returned to Manatee and Sarasota Counties to take on leadership roles across our community. They continue to support the college they started with to ensure that the leadership pipeline continues.

One pillar of SCF’s Boldly Leading 2021-26 Strategic Plan is our ability to be the community’s academic cornerstone as the only institution in our region with a full college experience. SCF offers athletics, fine and performing arts and a wide range of clubs and associations – all areas that provide students with the opportunity to develop leadership skills that can translate directly to their future. This fall, we have 35 active clubs between our Bradenton and Venice Campuses and student government associations representing our two largest campuses.

Students take on responsibility when they lead our clubs, teams and associations. They gain experience managing a group to collectively achieve goals that move their organization forward and enhance their college experience. These are valuable experiences that students build on throughout their higher education and benefit them as they enter the workforce.

SCF is our community’s college and we share in our collective success. We will continue to make every effort to inspire and grow the future leaders our community and college needs – they are already here with us. 

Dr. Carol Probstfeld is president of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota.

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