Illinois Tech Students Embrace Teamwork in the M. A. and Lila Self Leadership Academy


M. A. and Lila Self Leadership Academy


Nabilah Siddiqui (CS 4th Year): The leadership academy is a prestigious organization at Illinois Tech that recognizes students that have leadership potential. 

Xavier John (CE ’19): It’s a space where you can kind of be your true authentic self and it’s a place where, as you can imagine, you can develop and learn your style of leadership. It’s a place where you can get great mentorship—I know that was a very big deal for me while I was at the academy. 

Ryan Manthy (CS, M.S. BME 4th Year): Every month they have a seminar program that they offer and attending those seminars, you’re given opportunities to learn about how to be a leader. 

Shivam Patel (BME 4th Year): And I think I’ve grown so much over the past two years ever since I’ve been attending the seminars where we learn terms about humility, how you work in challenging situations and environments. We do a lot of team bonding experiences where we have students engage in activities like where you have these two little ski things and then students are using these ropes to try to coordinate going forward, right, left, and it’s basically a way for you to improve your communication skills, learn how to manage yourself in teams, learn how to manage your strengths and weaknesses. 

Leadership Academy students: Thumbs out of the way? One, two, three. Go, go, go, go, go. There we go guys. [Indistinct] Good job! Good work, team. 

Xavier John (CE ’19): There are different types of leadership styles. For me personally, it was more about how you affect people around you.

Leadership Academy student: We’ve learned a lot about how to approach a problem, setting roles and clarifying goals, outlining the problem, listing multiple strategies, and then coming towards a consensus along with the team. And then afterwards, the team would evaluate the results and determine whether that strategy worked out. 

Xavier John (CE ’19): We have those retreats which are really fantastic, where it’s not just the Leadership Academy students, but it’s a wider campus audience. In a weird way, you don’t realize you’re learning about leadership at the retreat until the very end, or maybe at the end of an activity because yes, we’re having fun with high ropes, and we’re having fun doing these problem solving puzzles, kayaking, but you’re always working in a team. 

Anthea Gonzalez (INTM, M.A.S. CYF ’22): I learned so much about myself and how I best work in groups and being able to do things that I never thought I would be able to do and just coming back with like a new confidence. 

KyLee Hennes (ARCH 5th Year): The Leadership Academy has played a key role in helping me get a position at an architecture firm. Without the skills that I learned at Leadership Academy, I don’t think I would have ever been able to just present myself in a way that I felt confident in. 

Anthea Gonzalez (INTM, M.A.S. CYF ’22): It’s provided me a support system when I really needed one, and it’s also pushed me to do my best in things. 

Delisha N. Mehta (ARCH, M.Eng. CM 4th Year): I’m in the middle of my second year and I can certainly say that there is a difference between who I was before two years, and who I am right now as a leader and as an individual working with people, and working with myself and self-management, emotional mental health, everything I think has taken a different turn and in a good way. 

Xavier John (CE ’19): In its simplest form, if you really want to be a good leader, you’ve got to work on yourself, as well. So what can you do to make yourself better?