Building citizen leaders

By James Byers | Mass Communication '20
Social Marketing Team writer

At Frostburg State University (FSU), one of the many goals of the academic programs on campus is to create citizen leaders. Through the events organized, activities available, and the opportunities that exist on campus, students are being molded into the citizen leaders of tomorrow. Whether in fraternity and sorority life, AmeriCorps, or Student Government Association (SGA), the students at FSU are being built for success. 

Read to Succeed AmeriCorps members

An AmeriCorps program for K-8 students within Allegany County that allows students to flex their leadership muscles is Read to Succeed. Michael Tartt, AmeriCorps Read to Succeed coordinator explained that the program is meant to help struggling students improve their literacy as the school year progresses. 

“For the program, ECHOSTARS, who are  (Frostburg State) students…, come to the library and assist the children with their homework assignments. Not only that, but we pre-test their reading level and measure their progress as they go through the program. The goal is to help them improve their literacy,” shared Tartt. 

Not only does this program improve community relations, but it also enables individual students to grow as citizen leaders. Many skills come with participating in these programs which are vast in their reach and can affect the students who participate in impermeable ways.  

“The traits I have learned are accountability, dedication, and patience. To be a leader, you need to hold yourself accountable for making sure you set the tone at work and to get everything done but need to be accountable for those under you who you lead. successful leader has to be able to manage everyone and make sure everyone stays on top of everything. Being dedicated to being a leader is a necessity. Being a leader isn’t an easy job, and it will become stressful. But, if you are truly dedicated to what you do and your goals, you can be a great leader,” explained Tartt. 

Another event that has enabled citizen leaders to give back to the community was SGA’s “The Big Event,” an annual day of community cleanup following Homecoming. For 26 years, SGA has been organizing the cleanup in an effort to improve relations between the college and the city of Frostburg. Not only that, but it brings together student organizations to volunteer as well. This unifying event has been extremely successful in previous years with many organizations getting involved, Thomas Forrest, the organizer, and member of the SGA student affairs committee explained. 

“Eighty-six Frostburg State students from ten student organizations gathered the trash from Frostburg city streets in this year’s cleanup. Six of those organizations were either fraternities or sororities,” stated Kathi Perkins, SGA administrative assistant, and Alpha Sigma Tau advisor. 

Not only has it been an opportunity for Forrest to give back to the community, but it’s also been a chance for him to grow as a person and a leader.  

“Leading The Big Event for the past two years has definitely helped me to become a better citizen leader by allowing me to take charge of something that is extremely impactful to many different people in the community, and get experience by actually planning and carrying out the event. Using this newfound experience and knowledge, I am able to step up to the challenge and lead others,” Forrest elaborated. 

While it takes a lot of hard work to become a true citizen leader, anyone can do it. Not only is the work rewarding, but it helps students gain a new level of understanding about themselves and the world around them. 

“The way to become a citizen leader is to get involved. I start by taking small steps, whether it be volunteering at an event or even joining an organization. Then, begin to work your way into becoming who and where you want to be. Eventually, your leadership and experience will rub off on others and suddenly you'll take a look at yourself and realize that you have become a leader, whether you know it or not,” shared Forrest.