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Gabrielle Abbate

This is your second leadership class. What made “Leadership Theory” interesting?
I'll admit that after the first class, I was hesitant to continue. I had taken the class assuming that we would learn about leadership styles, traits, etc. I expected to hear from recognized leaders from our state and our communities as examples of successful leaders. But my assumptions proved wrong. And, as much as I am what most people would refer to as a "touchy feely," emotionally/faith-driven woman, I wasn't exactly enthralled with the idea that we would be searching for, and enhancing, the leader within us. But, I don't give up easily so I arranged to meet with Dr. Eriksen in order to get a more in-depth read into his goals and objectives for the class. Following that meeting, I remained concerned, yet also intrigued, in how this class would play out. Although I didn't always agree with his assessment of life and leadership in general, the class actually teased my senses and offered me a great vehicle for increased self-awareness, reflection, and goal setting. It certainly stimulated my mind and tested my belief system. Matthew Eriksen proved to be a great facilitator on many levels.

Why were you interested in taking “Leadership and Diversity?”
I am often tagged as a member of a minority group, which seems almost ridiculous since it is based on my gender. At times that seems so silly and yet the simple identification based on my gender impacts my personal and professional life. Since I recognize that as truth, I make a greater effort to examine and appreciate the differences of others and the impact those differences have in our lives. I believe diversity in leadership is an important value that requires positive support and I'd like to play an important role in enhancing that support.

How have these courses helped you?
On a personal level, they have reaffirmed my beliefs, tested my beliefs, and secured my personal self-assessment. On a professional level, they have increased my awareness of my leadership responsibility to everyone who I work with on every level.

How do you think these courses will help you in the professional world?
I have been in my profession for over 23 years. The success of my job relies heavily on personal contact and group facilitation and participation. When I can learn different approaches that enhance my skills and style of addressing my advocacy responsibilities, I embrace those opportunities.

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