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Emerging Leader Program

Since its inception in 1988, Boston College's Emerging Leader Program (ELP) has become the flagship program for first-year students to join. ELP is a one-year leadership development program for a select group of 50 first-year students. It is designed to enhance leadership skills and potential; foster interpersonal, social, ethical and moral development; and instill an attitude of social awareness and responsibility.

In the late spring of each year, the Office of Student Involvement sends a letter and application to all members of the incoming class. The application is comprised of four essay questions. Prior leadership experience is not a prerequisite; commitment and desire are the most important qualifications. The application process is competitive; a typical year yields over 200 applications, and only 50 students are selected.

At the beginning of the academic year, the students who have been selected for the program spend two days on Cape Cod for a team building retreat. At the retreat, two sophomore, junior, or senior class facilitators who work with the program throughout the year are assigned to each group. The facilitators are usually, but not exclusively, students who have completed ELP and have proven themselves to be effective leaders on campus. Facilitators are recruited and selected early in the spring semester of each year.

During the academic year, students meet weekly on Tuesday evenings with the large group to explore a wide variety of topics in experiential, lecture, and discussion formats.  They are also required to become involved in at least one activity on campus, participate in community service on a regular basis, and develop a service project with their small group. Topics are discussed within the context of the Social Change Model of Leadership, and include values clarification, ethical leadership, teamwork and decision making, organizational behavior, diversity, intercultural awareness, social justice, and volunteerism, among others.

Presentations have been facilitated by a variety of individuals, both internal and external to Boston College. Past ELP speakers include Fr. Fernando Cardenal, S.J., former minister of education in Nicaragua; Michael Durkin, President and CEO of United Way of Massachusetts; Mike Eruzione, Olympic gold medal winner; Rena Finder, Schindler’s List Holocaust survivor; Carol Guzy, four-time Pulitzer Prize photojournalist for the Washington Post; Kirk Johnson, founder and director of The List: Project to resettle Iraqi allies; Fr. William P. Leahy, S.J., President of Boston College; and Travis Roy, motivational speaker, author, and former BU hockey player.

The Emerging Leader Program is dedicated to assisting in the development of some of Boston College's finest and most diverse students. The world is a place of great variety, and it needs a variety of great leaders; the facilitators, coordinator, and director of the Program do their best to ensure that the ELP students gain valuable experience that sets a firm foundation for their college experience and beyond.