The 31 highly-driven scholars that were sitting in the room at Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences are no strangers to being the first at things.
On April 9, 2016, the GSBA Scholarship Fund launched a leadership workshop, bringing together 2015-2016 scholarship recipients for an all-day conversation. Scholars attending schools all over the state came together for the opportunity to build valuable connections, learn ways to collaboratively address shared interest in social and political issues, and provide insight for further developing this leadership initiative for future cohorts.
The GSBA Scholars Leadership Initiative and the day’s workshop were a collaborative development, led by Ron Walters, an independent strategic planning consultant and friend of GSBA, with direction from current scholars, alumni, and GSBA staff.
During the first half of the day, Ron took the scholars on a challenging individual and group journey of prioritizing major issues (like race in America, transgender rights, income inequality) to taking on Wicked Problems through a Design Thinking framework. Scholar Zane Rapiñan said it was "great to talk about big issues with scholars, it was a diverse group where each person had our own personal intersectional fights, strengths and experience. Put us together in a room, suddenly there is a simultaneously broad and specific ability to come up with ideas to solve these 'wicked problems'".
After lunch, the students were treated to a brief overview of the GSBA by President and CEO Louise Chernin, followed by the ever-inspiring Danni Askini, Executive Director of Gender Justice League and candidate for State Representative of the 43rd Legislative District. Danni shared her story, which has included over 15 years of activism in both Maine and Washington State, and answered questions from the scholars, ranging from how to access local healthcare resources to furthering activism on their own campuses.
Scholars ended the day by engaging in a shared interest mapping activity, discovering overlapping interests and, in some cases, discussing intersections of these interests where they least expected. Scholar Mara Rae noted that "because of this workshop specifically, I was able to make several important connections with other GSBA scholars, which will directly help in the work that we are doing".
While the day seemed to end with more questions than it began, the Scholars left with an energy of possibility, new friendships, and a successful introduction to GSBA's Leadership Initiative.