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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

    Student becomes first leadership academy graduate

    NW student Donna Christy has developed into a leader on campus through the Student Leadership Academy while also being a mentor to other students. 
Jordan Hess/The Collegian
    NW student Donna Christy has developed into a leader on campus through the Student Leadership Academy while also being a mentor to other students. Jordan Hess/The Collegian
    NW student Donna Christy has developed into a leader on campus through the Student Leadership Academy while also being a mentor to other students.
    Jordan Hess/The Collegian

    By Shirlett Warren/Nw news editor

    One afternoon last year during finals week, Donna Christy walked into the student activities office to grab a snack.

    Before she left that day, not only did she volunteer to become president of NW Campus’ criminal justice club, but she also joined the Student Leadership Academy and recently became the program’s first graduate.

    “I just happened upon it,” Christy said.

    Director of student development services Vesta Martinez saw Christy as more than just a regular student.

    “She sought opportunities and took the ball and ran with it,” Martinez said.

    Last spring, the NW Campus student activities launched the Student Leadership Academy to support students interested in developing knowledge and skills for leadership roles on campus. The program was designed to be flexible to accommodate the various needs of different types of students.

    The academy offers five two-hour sessions during the fall and spring semesters. The sessions cover the challenges of leadership, time management, interpersonal communication and conflict resolution, leadership and service as well as public speaking.

    In addition, the academy holds a full-day team-building retreat in the fall and a full-day critical-thinking event in the spring.

    The academy is an open entry/open exit program offered on a cycle allowing students to participate in as many or as few sessions as they choose, Martinez said. However, students can earn a Level I certification by completing any four sessions and a Level II certification when all seven sessions are completed.

    Christy’s diligence paid off for her. In February, she was the first student to complete the Level II certification of the series and earned the distinction of being the first academy graduate.

    “It’s not going to my head,” she said. “I don’t feel like I’m some big, important person, but I do appreciate the responsibility.”

    Christy was a shy, slightly introverted person who grew up as an only child. Her father was in the military, and she said she was reluctant to make friends because she moved so often. She said her father was a stickler for time, and she developed a strong sense of time management.

    “I wouldn’t go outside and play until I finished my homework,” she said.

    Her mother, Joan Shriver, said children flocked to Christy as a child.

    “We moved into a neighborhood, and before we even drove in our driveway, there were children standing in front waiting to see if Donna would come out,” Shriver said. “I told her to go play.”

    Prior to becoming president of the Criminal Justice Club, Christy was already active in a political club on campus and participated in group projects in her U.S. Government class.

    “Donna was outspoken in class, and other students looked to her for guidance and often made her group leader,” government associate professor Julie Lantrip said. “Donna is charismatic, to say the least. She knows how to make people want to become involved and to inspire others to act.”

    Christy said she had to learn how to build a rapport with people.

    “I prefer not to be in the public eye. I’m learning to be in the spotlight,” she said.

    One of the first leadership sessions she attended was on public speaking. She said she was uncomfortable speaking in front of her small group and had to adjust quickly.

    “I had to speak in front of 150 people at an award ceremony. If you would have asked my mom, she’d tell you that was a big deal for me,” Christy said.

    Her mom attributes Christy’s success in overcoming her public speaking fears to the mentorship of Lantrip and Martinez.

    “They encouraged her, and she grew tremendously, but Donna has always had an internal drive to move forward,” Shriver said. “She’s always had a good work ethic.”

    Going to college was an expectation instilled in her at a young age, Christy said. She considered herself an average high school student and wanted to go to college, but in 2004, she was living in Maryland and had to take remedial classes based on her placement test scores.

    “It was a downer, but it was also an eye- opener,” Christy said. “I didn’t know how to approach college. I realized that I couldn’t just wing it. I had to apply myself.”

    After a series of life challenges, Christy moved to the Metroplex to be near family. She said being at NW Campus was like a second chance for her.

    Martinez said she was proud of Christy’s commitment and dedication.

    “If she does something, she wants to do it right,” Martinez said. “She’s not afraid to try new things. She might not love every minute of it, but she’ll try.”

    Christy is currently studying social work and criminal justice. She said she’s going to take her time to explore her career options within those fields. In the meantime, she continues developing her leadership skills and is committed to being a peer mentor to other students.

    “The key to being a leader is to just jump in,” she said.

     

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