What is the PIECES Leadership Achievement Program?

Photo+fromBethany+VanBenschoten

Photo fromBethany VanBenschoten

Hope Russo, Assistant Features Editor

After being encouraged over the last few years to increase leadership development programs on campus, Student Living and College Engagement launched the PIECES Leadership Achievement Program pilot in the spring of 2020.

Assistant Director for Leadership Development  Bethany VanBenschoten is leading the program and has been avidly inviting students to learn more about it and hopefully join. More specifically, she has been approaching students who have previously been involved in other leadership-type programs or awards. 

The PIECES acronym stands for professionalism, interculturalism, ethics, communication, eloquence and service. Each of these characteristics lays the foundation on which this program and its events are centered around. 

“We recognize that many offices already offer programs and workshops that do a great job of teaching leadership skills to our students, and we want to capitalize on the good work that’s already being done,” VanBenschoten said. 

The program rewards students with non-academic credit for attending designated events, services, workshops and lectures. Participants will submit a self-reflective summary to SLCE staff explaining how they feel the event helped them earn credit in the skill for which the letter stands.  

“Once a student receives enough credits to spell the word PIECES, they will have achieved the goal of the program, which is to expose all our students to education about leadership skills,” VanBenschoten said.

With campus events continuing to be held virtually, this has allowed the program to start off on the right foot by being very accessible to all students. Since COVID has resulted in many students going fully remote, it can make it difficult to feel a sense of belonging and create new relationships. Virtual events not only give remote students a chance to take part in events but also increase their networking pool through guest speakers. 

Hailey Bassett, a nursing student, is one of the only three students so far to earn the six credits needed to complete the PIECES program. She was enticed by the many opportunities that the program has to offer, and as a result, was inducted into the National Society of Leadership and Success.

“My overall experience with PIECES was exceptional,” Bassett said. “My personal favorite event was the Town Hall Meeting with area healthcare officials.”

In the PIECES program proposal, it was suggested that a $10,000 budget would be ideal when transitioning from a pilot to a full-functioning program. This budget would provide the opportunity for rewarding the students who complete the program with a completion certificate and a pin. 

The program creator would design and produce a Scholar’s Medal for students to wear at graduation. The medal will designate the student as a PIECES Scholar. This accolade can even be included in resumes, written about in cover letters and discussed in interviews. 

While this leadership program is still relatively new, it has many great opportunities. As of this semester, the program has 175 members and is continuing to grow.