A humble six years ago, the Garthwait Leadership Center (GLC) opened its doors following a generous endowment by Gettysburg College Trustee Bob Garthwait Jr. ’82. What started as a dream from a passionate alumnus has quickly turned into a leadership center that caters to nearly half of all Gettysburg students every year, and employs 11 dedicated student-employees.
Today, the GLC serves as the intellectual and experiential hub for leadership development at the College. At the GLC, we believe everyone has the potential to develop as a leader—and that leaders are not born, they’re made.
Every year, the GLC takes on new Leadership Mentors who are responsible for leading projects; designing and facilitating workshops to help student clubs and organizations; and providing support and resources for students interested in leadership development.
Leadership Mentors not only impact the lives of fellow students across campus, they also find their role within the GLC has immense impact on their own life and career success.
Below are a few stories from our recent Leadership Mentor alumni:
Samir Lalvani ‘13
Samir Lalvani most recently worked in Mumbai, India, as a pre-sales consultant at a startup called DronaHQ. He worked with major companies to integrate many of their current apps into one single mobile app through the DronaHQ platform.
“I owe my public speaking skills, which have helped me succeed in my client-facing roles, to the GLC. The forecasting, estimation, and project planning skills cultivated while at the GLC has given me a major edge in my career in the tech industry,” said Samir.
The unique aspect of the Leadership Mentor role is that you handle work and have interactions that many people don’t experience until their first job out of college. Between the responsibility of executing major college events to the interactions with professionals, peers, alumni, and professors while at the GLC, you quickly gain an understanding of how critical strong collaboration skills are in the workforce.
“The LM role constituted a perfect balance of trust, responsibility, and mentorship,” reflected Samir. “We were given assignments like designing and managing leadership programs—mentored frequently by Director Andy Hughes and Gettysburg College alum Neil Bryant ’82—and trusted with the execution without any micromanagement. These experiences have helped me design programs from scratch at Deloitte and now DronaHQ, even if the challenge was daunting.”
Serving as a Leadership Mentor is a job that requires responsibility, organization, and enthusiasm for growth, however, there are several aspects of the job that you learn along the way.
“My advice to current students is to grasp every opportunity possible—as a leader and as a follower,” said Samir. “You will learn to connect with diverse people, see things differently, and assess where things went right and wrong. Four years of practice at Gettysburg will easily prepare you to be an indispensable asset at work.”
The Leadership Mentor role can mean several things to students, but to Samir, his experience focused on coaching and growth. “The humility and positivity of the title is important to me; we grow with and alongside the larger Gettysburg community.”
Brenton Slotoroff ’16
Only one year since graduating from Gettysburg College, Brenton is excelling as an Account Administrator of Financial Services for Lockton Companies—the world’s largest privately held insurance brokerage firm. The clients that Brenton works with are “inquisitive, working with mergers to see which insurances should carry over.”
Brenton secured his first job during a Leadership Mentor training the summer before graduating. To say he was prepared would be an understatement.
“The GLC helped me step out of the box and served as an opportunity to turn my talents into career strengths,” reflected Brenton.
Leadership Mentors work very closely with GLC Director Andy Hughes and Associate Director Paul Miller. The close-knit nature of our small team at the GLC plays to our benefit in that you develop very personal relationships with everyone in the office. “Andy is patient, intelligent, and mindful,” said Brenton. Having a great relationship with the GLC bosses is just one of the many pros to the Leadership Mentor role.
“Knowing your strengths is huge for success and the GLC prepared me for that,” he continued. “I also learned that self-awareness in a social setting is incredibly important.”
New Leadership Mentors are hired every spring semester. Welcoming new team members is one of the most exciting times of the year for the GLC staff. As seasoned Leadership Mentors climb the ranks, they take on an even greater role within the team. “During my senior year, I took more of mentorship role with the younger Leadership Mentors,” said Brenton.
For Brenton, being a Leadership Mentor is “more so about potential and seeing potential in someone you’re working with. We built relationships with others. I have immense gratitude for Andy, Bob, and past Leadership Mentors. This role gives you an incredible platform to practice and perfect leadership skills.”
Adrienne (Rahs) Heffelfinger ‘12
Adrienne has worked at the Hershey Company in Pennsylvania for the past four years, filling three different positions during her time. Most of her early career has been spent serving as a financial analyst where she provided support for the sales team.
Adrienne is the type of person who wants to continue to advance her skillset and learn something new everyday. Fortunately, the Hershey Company fosters this type of desire. Very early on in her tenure, Adrienne demonstrated the ability to challenge the status quo. She constantly asked “How can we do something better?,” which ultimately led to Adrienne’s recent promotion to Manager of Sales.
“The GLC helped me learn how to work with a diverse group of people and prepare myself to work with people from different backgrounds. I also got accustomed to working in a professional office setting,” reflected Adrienne.
Perhaps most notably, Adrienne was the First Leadership Mentor to plan the The Gettysburg College Leadership Certificate (GCLC), which serves as the premier leadership program of the GLC and Gettysburg College. The GCLC is a year-long program that pairs leadership coaches with students interested in exploring and connecting campus involvement to meaningful career skills. Though it has developed greatly over the past six years, the core of this certificate program has remained steady.
“I had to learn how to be an entrepreneur and then advertise the experience,” said Adrienne. “I also had to figure out how to cater my potential audience and convince students that this was an important program.”
In the 2015-2016 school year, the GCLC graduated 79 students from the program, reaching the highest number of certified participants in the GLC’s history.
Lastly, during her years with the GLC, Adrienne also learned the importance of honest reflection.
“People don’t take the time to reflect,” said Adrienne. “Andy and other Leadership Mentors challenged us to develop our leadership skills and we have to do that now at Hershey. I learned to evaluate what works well and what doesn’t. I am also able to digest and reflect on personal issues.”
The Leadership Mentor position is not only an excellent opportunity during your college career, but also helps you stand apart from the competition upon graduation.
“Current students are always thinking about what’s next, but you have to be able to make sense of how you got to the place you are today,” said Adrienne. “Job interviewers look for someone who can tell their story and answer this question. Take time for self-discovery and ask what your leadership style truly is.”
Sarah Pagliocco ’15
Sarah works as a consultant for Accenture in New York City. Her projects and clients change quite frequently, and one of her primary responsibilities is to present and moderate panels at events all over the country.
“The GLC gave me a lot of opportunities to interact with adults and faculty members at the college,” Sarah reflected. “The GLC required me to do a lot of self-reflection, looking at my strengths and areas for improvement, which absolutely helped me initially get my job. In addition, whenever one of my projects ends, I have to interview for another role. So, being able to articulate my strengths and what I want is huge. I currently have an incredible role, and that would not be possible without these important skills.”
Whether you’re terrified of public speaking or embrace it, there will definitely be a time when you will need to stand in front of a group of people and communicate something important. At the GLC, Leadership Mentors practice public speaking on a weekly basis—whether it be at our team meetings, facilitating a session with an organization on campus, or leading a workshop for the Gettysburg College Leadership Certificate.
“Public speaking is extremely important in my current role. The presentation I give is over an hour long and the audience is usually between 200 to 500 people,” said Sarah. “Experiences as a Leadership Mentor, such as presenting at Foundations of Leadership sessions for the Gettysburg College Leadership Certificate and the Emerging Leaders Retreat definitely made me more comfortable with public speaking. There are few things more daunting than speaking to a group of your peers who you also see on campus constantly, so although I was definitely nervous for my first couple presentations, I knew I could do it.”
In addition to public speaking, another valuable skill a Leadership Mentor can possess is organization. Every Leadership Mentor is juggling at least two projects at a time amidst other minor responsibilities in the office.
“The LM role showed me how valuable my organizational tendencies can be. I have now found a job where this is very important and valued, especially in the early stages where there are many project management duties,” said Sarah. “Having worked at multiple projects at once as a Leadership Mentor, while also balancing school and other extra-curricular activities, definitely helped me with my organization and time management. It’s something that I am frequently praised for.”
Like any job, you are expected to adapt and be flexible. Most careers are constantly evolving, so you must always be ready for a curveball to be thrown your way. That’s the nature of the Leadership Mentor role.
“The GLC taught me a lot about flexibility, which I think is extremely important for the ‘real world.’ This was something I worked on for quite a while during my time with the GLC, and with Andy as a coach I definitely improved,” said Sarah. “In a job where my role, manager, co-workers, and even location are constantly changing, it would have been much more challenging for me to adapt without having improved my flexibility. Working at the GLC and being forced to consider your goals and things you want to improve on is huge.”
Interested in getting more involved on campus, but don’t know where to start? Sarah says, “A great place to start is at the GLC. Find out what type of programs are running and sign up for something. There are options that range from a day-long, to a year-long, so many different commitment levels are welcome!
“And even if you don't want to be a Leadership Mentor, the GLC is a great place where you can get help being a leader in other places on campus—your club, a sports team, a Greek life organization. Leadership can be intimidating, but you will never regret it when you enter ‘the real world.’ In my experience, solid leadership experiences were what made me stand out from a lot of other candidates.”
Being a Leadership Mentor is not only an incredibly rewarding, it also gives you a second family on campus. There’s nothing more satisfying than knowing you have a group of like-minded individuals to work with every day.
“Being a part of the GLC was absolutely one of the best decisions, if not the best decision, that I made while at Gettysburg College,” said Sarah. “Not only did I always feel that I had a second family at the GLC, but I also learned so much while I was there. From self-reflection to learning actual theories and strategies for leadership, the GLC gave me so much more than I ever expected.”
You may even surprise yourself with how much you’re capable of accomplishing and learning. The skills you acquire through the GLC will not only help you at Gettysburg College, but also every day for the rest of your life. You can apply leadership skills in any job field. Leadership skills are “one size fits all.”
“I knew that it was a great experience during college, but I didn't realize quite how valuable it was until I started my job interview. Even though I graduated without really knowing what I wanted to do, I was offered more than one job. I truly believe it was because of my GLC experiences, and all that I was able to share with interviewers,” said Sarah. “We all joke about needing five years of experience to get an entry level job post-grad, but the GLC actually gave me a couple years of that experience. I would do it again in a heartbeat!”
So, are you ready to make a commitment to yourself? Are you ready to step into a role that can benefit you and hundreds of other students at Gettysburg College? Leadership is the #1 quality employers are looking for in job candidates. The GLC welcomes students with little-to-no leadership experience, as well as students who are interested in continuing their leadership journey. Leadership isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle.