In 2016, the Scholarship Fund officially launched the GSBA Guarantee, not only committing financial support to its scholars for four years of undergraduate education, but also to their growth as future leaders—truly realizing the mission of the Fund. Working toward this goal, leaders from small businesses, corporations, and institutions of higher education were convened over six months to develop a leadership immersion curriculum that would take our students’ professional development to the next level.
On August 11th, 2017, forty of our forty-five GSBA Scholars boarded a ferry to Bainbridge Island to participate in our first-ever Leadership Immersion Weekend, where we proudly unveiled the new leadership curriculum. Scholars participated in sessions ranging from “Owning Your Leadership Footprint” and “Navigating Diversity and Inclusion” to “Leading”, with the three-day program concluding with an interactive session on “Cultivating Resilience” with Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu. The students left IslandWood with a renewed sense of energy and excitement for the academic year ahead along with a new identity as part of the 2017 GSBA Scholar Cohort.
Students shared with us many of the lessons they learned from the program, including how they felt valued, that that they no longer felt alone in the insecurities they struggle with, and that they feel emboldened to persevere knowing that they have the love and support of others. Some their favorite moments included:
“Being able to be open and honest with other students like myself, listening to the stories of others, and connecting on a deeper level.”
“Sharing our stories and supporting each other. I shared the story of the importance of artifacts of resistance and supported a scholar through a very rough time. They now have a very powerful sacred artifact of resistance to lean on and depend on during times of struggle.”
Most importantly, the weekend provided GSBA Scholars with the opportunity to meet others from various backgrounds who have had diverse experiences. Sharing and hearing about each other’s lives was fascinating, exciting, and, at times, difficult and even painful— especially concerning stories of hardship, discrimination, and awareness of privilege. We are so proud to have been able to provide our scholars with this wonderful opportunity for growth and greatly look forward to continuing the Leadership Academy program for many years to come!