This year’s LEAP concludes with a discernment talk for BOx’s future student leaders

Writer Name: Joi Muñoz
Artist Name: Gino delos Reyes
Published 22 May 2021

Last May 10, 2021 via Zoom, the LEAP Apprenticeship Program came to a close with its last event, a discernment talk about student leadership. While the LEAP apprentices have spent the last year working hard, learning about the ins and outs of BOx and training in project management, VP for Training and Development Larry Acuña emphasized the importance of discernment in the choice to become a student leader.

“The discernment talk is an important means for them to be nudged into the right direction in discerning well, guiding them on their future decision if they choose to be a leader for the org,” Acuña explained.

Beginning the event, Acuña introduced the first speaker, Mr. Aeron Syliongtay, the Coordinator for Leadership and Organization Development and BOx’s current Office of Student Activities (OSA) formator. Mr. Syliongtay enlightened the audience about the nature of discernment, such that it is a long process of asking the right questions, rather than getting the right answers. This applies especially during this time of pandemic, where most leadership experiences are new and previous tips and techniques may not apply anymore. 

He then asked the apprentices a stimulating question: “Given the chance to choose between a crown of petals and a crown of thorns, which would you choose?” While pondering over their answer for this, Mr. Syliongtay provided a series of other reflective-type questions like “Why even bother?” “Who do I want to become?” and “Is there anyone who suffers less because I am here?” to challenge their thinking once again, but also provided helpful quotes and inputs that could help them figure out their answers to such questions.

Bringing his talk to a close, Mr. Syliongtay brought up the choice between the crowns once again, and said that leadership is an invitation to wear a crown of thorns. 

“It’s an invitation to attempt to do the difficult,” he said, “Why? Choosing to do the difficult brings us closer to the experience of those who are suffering; of those who we want to serve; of those who need us.”                      

Acuña then introduced the second speaker, Marcus Sahagun, the VP for Secretariat & Publications and Chief Finance Officer, who took the time to share his first-hand experiences as a BOx Executive Board member. As one of the first EB officers to have his term during a full-blown pandemic, he said that there was a lot of adjustment and learning that had to be done throughout the year, accompanied by the workload, the regular meetings, and the anxieties of a main decision-maker of the org.

However, Sahagun said that what helped him get through these challenges were no other than his fellow officers. Though their ideas may sometimes clash, they are connected by BOx’s advocacy and their desire to promote it to their members, the LS community, and any other people they can reach. Despite any disagreements, his fellow EB officers served as a safety net that he can rely on when he needs help, and a reminder that he is not alone. Though the life of a student leader has its pressures, each difference he made left him with fulfillment and his legacy lives on in the history of BOx.

Once the talks concluded, Acuña opened the floor for a Q&A portion through Slido, wherein the apprentices inputted their questions regarding time, stress, and team management, all of which the speakers were happy to answer. Finally, with an awarding of certificates of appreciation to the speakers and a quick group picture, the discernment talk ended along with the LEAP Apprenticeship Program 2020-2021.

Despite the limitations of an online setup, the LEAP apprentices accomplished a lot this year, from participating in leadership workshops, to producing their pseudo-certificates of candidacy with the advice of their EB mentors. Their last grand requirement was to present a project proposal that addressed one of the problems in BOx, all of which, according to Acuña, were very good and have potential to be adopted for next year. A total of 21 apprentices graduated from LEAP this year, and are now eligible to run for Wave 1 of this year’s EB elections.

The LEAP Apprenticeship Program, BOx’s main venue for training its future student leaders, will begin once again during the First Semester of SY 2021-2022, with signups opening around October 2021.

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