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Leadership studies students create, lead community projects

Every semester, students in Associate Professor Lisa DeFrank-Cole’s Leadership 401: Leadership in Action courses are challenged to put leadership into action by designing and implementing an action project. 

What is an action project?

As students in the course will tell you, an action project is limited only by their imaginations. In an effort to help shape the next generation of leaders, Leadership 401 allows students to interact with organizations in the community, assess those organizations’ needs, and create and lead a unique project aimed at serving those needs.

Through the project, each student uses his or her strengths (based on Gallup Strengths’ Quest) to work in a group and invests 20 hours of time to their project. Students learn about the act of leading (including assessing needs, negotiating, communicating, working in teams, and facilitating meetings) as well as the theory behind leadership. The exciting action projects implemented by students in the Spring 2016 semester of Leadership 401 include:

Hoops ‘n’ Homeruns: Fan Appreciation Day: Erin Adair, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Justin D’Apolito, of Wayne, New Jersey; Caitlin Forsyth, of Staten Island, New York; Tyler Matthews, of Saint Albans, West Virginia; and Vincent Quigg, of Witter, California, worked with the West Virginia University Athletics Department to put together a fan appreciation event. Together, they organized a pre-game tailgate for the May 3 baseball game against Virginia Tech. They partnered with Mountaineer Maniacs and the Mountaineer to generate excitement and engagement. As part of this meet and greet, fans got to meet members of the WVU Men’s Basketball team. The group encouraged fans to attend the baseball game by offering a two dollar voucher to those attending the pre-game tailgate. They were able to work with local businesses to secure donations as well as autographed athletic items from the WVU Basketball team. Students also incorporated social media to highlight and promote the event as well as teach future students how to do an action project.

Students indicated they used the following leadership concepts in their project: team leadership, positive psychology, crisis leadership and communication/networking.

homerun

Chi Alpha Leadership Appreciation: Taylor Albertini, of Wheeling, and Kari DeMicco, of Rivesville, compiled a scrapbook and organized an appreciation event for the leadership group of Chi Alpha Ministries, a Christian organization on campus. Jordon and Katie Goodie, two of the leaders of the organization, left their home in Texas to start the group on campus in 2013. Since that time, the organization has grown to over 100 members. To recognize the couple’s hard work, Albertini and DeMicco met weekly to gather anecdotes regarding the couple from Chi Alpha members, compiled those memories in a scrapbook, and hosted an appreciation barbecue, with on-site smoked meats, courtesy of Albertini’s family business. Their work was predicated on a “gratitude visit” highlighted by Martin Seligman in "Positive Psychology." 

Students indicated they used the following leadership concepts in their project: Servant Leadership, Transformational Leadership, and Positive Psychology.

Morgan’s Army Pageant: Mohammed Alahmadi and McKinsey Marrara, of Morgantown; John Nowery, of Maidsville; Raymond Prendergast, of Morgantown; and Shannon Redmon, of Keyser, teamed up to raise money for Morgan’s Army, a non-profit that raises money and awareness for Cystic Fibrosis and Morgan Yoney, a young woman suffering through the disease. They worked together with the first Miss West Virginia Mountaineer Pageant to raise over $2,000 for their cause. 

Students indicated they used the following leadership concepts in their project: Team Leadership and project management.

St. Jude 5K: Cassie Gentile, of Weirton, and John Galatic, of Morgantown, put together a 5K to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The group worked together to obtain a permit, gather donations, raise money, and actually host the race. After all was said and done, the group raised $825. 

Students indicated they used the following leadership concepts in their project: Servant Leadership, Positive Psychology, crisis leadership, and negotiation skills.

Big Dog Car Show: Jarrod Ayoub, of Slanesville; Kensey Bergdorf, of Morgantown; Kyle Hoffner, of Royersford, Pa.; Logan Johnson, of Hurricane; and John Marchwinski, of Pittsburgh, Pa., hosted a car show to raise money for paws4vets. Paws4vets raises money to ensure that veterans get service dogs—an expensive undertaking. Despite the snowy weather, the group put together a successful event and raised $1,097. 

Students indicated they used the following leadership concepts in their project: working in teams.

Bonnie’s Bus Golf Tournament: Matthew Gillespie, of Procious, and Emily Stiles, of Morgantown, worked with the Mountaineer Golf Course to host a golf tournament to benefit Bonnie’s Bus. Bonnie’s Bus is a mobile mammography unit that has provided more than 10,000 breast cancer screenings in West Virginia. 

Students indicated they used the following leadership concepts in their project: Servant Leadership, Autocratic and Participative styles.

Operation Trash Bash: Nate Carlett, of Summerville, S.C.; Michael Edwards, of Morgantown; and Jacob Zaffuto, of Gibsonia, Pa., led an effort to clean up Morgantown on Earth Day. Through their project, they cleaned up more than 200 pounds of litter in the Sunnyside area. 

Students indicated they used the following leadership concepts in their project: Servant Leadership, Transformational Leadership, Positive Psychology, Team Leadership, Transactional and Democratic styles.

Morgantown Pony Baseball League Fundraiser: Nicholas Buser, of Morgantown, and Kevin Oppito, of Ocean, N.J. worked together to raise money for the Morgantown Pony Baseball League. Together, they utilized 50/50 raffles to raise more than $100 for the league. 

Students indicated they used the following leadership concepts in their project: Situational, Autocratic and Charismatic.

Bark in the Park: Abdullah Alhassoun, Breanne Coffey, Jacklyn Osborne, of Morgantown, and Tara Weese, of Middlebourne, worked with M-SNAP, the Mountaineer Spay Neuter Assistance Program, to help with the Bark in the Park 5K. Together, the group helped advertise for the event on campus, solicit donations, and run the event. 

Students indicated they used the following leadership concepts in their project: Servant Leadership, Transformational Leadership, Contingency Theory and crisis leadership.

End the Silence about Domestic Violence: Kaitlin Brown, of Berlin, Md.; Alexa Corideo, of Great River, N.Y.; Brandon Nestro, of Sinking Spring, Pa.; and Evan Bloiso, of Montoursville, Pa., teamed up to promote awareness of domestic violence and gather supplies for the Morgantown Domestic Violence Center. Together, they utilized their connections within the Greek community to raise money, gather supplies, and discuss issues surrounding domestic violence. 

Students indicated they used the following leadership concepts in their project: Contingency Theory.

Thirty-four students gave approximately 680 hours among ten organizations.

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