NACURH Winner
Month: June 2018

NACURH, INC.

Residential Community of the Month

School: University of Akron Region: CAACURH
Nominee: Brandon Mikulski Nominator: Matthew Hohman

On-Campus Population: 2,800 Chapter Size: 28

Please explain the outstanding contributions of the nominee during the month of nomination

Every June, the Oelschlager Summer Leadership Institute is held by the University of Akron. This program is funded by a very generous Jim and Vanita Oelschlager who run Oak Assoc., an investment management firm in the greater Akron area. The main goal of the program is to give 30-40 rising high school seniors the chance to develop the leadership skills they need to be successful in college or whatever path they choose to pursue after high school. All of the participants are individually selected by their guidance counselors for the chance to participate, making this institute highly selective. This institute is very unique in the fact that it requires students to have lower than a 3.0 GPA. Jim and Vanita Oelschlager recognized that there are numerous leadership camps available to the upper echelon of students and numerous camps available to the lower tier as well. Thus, they created this institute with the middle section of students in mind, the ones who are often forgotten about. The entire institute is a week long, and participants live in Spicer Residence Hall here at the University of Akron.

From being a mentor at the institute this past June, I can truly tell you that this program is one of a kind. The 38 students we had come in June 15-21 had no idea what to expect and began the institute very closed off. Institute director, Brandon Mikulski, intentionally designs the program this way so that students are able to receive the full experience by not having pre-conceived notions. Throughout the week, students participated in team-building exercises (including solving riddles, dodgeball, and completing various puzzles), listened to world-famous speakers, completed diversity and community service training with the Department of Residence Life and Housing, volunteered at the local food bank, and, simply, had fun with one another. This past June, students also went to an Akron Rubberducks baseball game, went bowling and played billiards at the student union game room, and went swimming and played basketball at the University’s Recreation and Wellness Center. Brandon designed the program so that the students are constantly going from one activity to the next throughout all seven days so that not a moment of time is wasted by the program.

The most unique part of the institute is that it has a meaningful and lasting impact on the participants’ lives. Most students go through a complete transformation in only a week and become confident about their futures. At the institute, we intentionally push the students outside of their comfort zones so that they make new friends, become more confident in themselves, and tackle their fears. Each student is assigned to a small group of 4 to 5 other students who they spend a good deal of time with throughout the institute. Most small groups have stayed in contact with one another after the institute ended and some lifelong friendships have definitely been made. Brandon and the mentors are commonly told by the students that this institute changed their life. A mother of a student in my small group asked me, “What did you do to my son? This is not the same boy that I dropped off. He would have never been confident enough in himself to speak in front of all these people like he just did.” In the month of June, this year, and every year, this residential community at the University of Akron is consistently changing lives and allowing students, who might have been overlooked, to be equipped with the leadership skills they need to be successful in life.

Word Count: 593


Date of entry into database: 2018-07-10 10:41:48

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