Photo Credit: Student Alumni Association/ UCLA Leadershape

This past spring break, I had the fortune of attending the Leadershape Institute in Malibu. This week has definitely been one of the most powerful experiences I’ve had so far in my undergrad career at UCLA!

The Leadershape Institute is a national program that is dedicated to developing new leaders in an intense six-day camp setting. At UCLA, this program is generously funded by the Alumni Association, and each year sixty student leaders are bundled off to the Glinding Hilltop Camp for an experience like never before! This year, as a freshman, I was fortunate enough to be able to have this experience!

Through various team building exercises, simulations, and careful discussions in smaller family clusters, we were introduced to concepts that we had not been probed to think about before. Not only were we encouraged to find our passion and develop our vision, but we were also challenged to push our boundaries while recognizing our strengths and GAGs (going against the grain), also known as room for improvement. One of the most incredible activities I got to experience was the challenge course, a three-story-tall series of poles designed to encourage us to step out of our comfort zones. I personally am terrified of heights, yet up at camp, with all the encouragement from my peers, I was able to scale a three story high pole, perch on a ledge with no safety railing, and swing off the edge, soaring high above the ocean. This was no doubt a breakthrough for me, and I found that I somehow had the strength and the determination to climb up to that height and swing off!

This whole experience has been incredibly amazing. The positive feedback I received on my vision for bringing affordable technology and education to impoverished areas was overwhelmingly supportive. The diverse group of individuals I’ve met— many of whom I would not have been able to meet simply because UCLA is such a big campus— has changed my perspective on life. I’ve not only gained a deeper insight of my leadership style but also a family that I know will be there to support me in my pursuit of my vision. These six days were intensely packed with carefully designed activities to stretch and push me, and I am forever grateful for the love and community this experience has bestowed upon me!