Becoming a Leader

By Carmen McSpadden
Leadership can be an intimidating concept when you’re still trying out majors or formulating a career path. Yet, with a small and supportive class environment, the literary shoulders of giants to stand on, and local leaders as mentors and role models, a whole generation of MSU students are coming into their own—and empowered by an MSU certificate program that rewards students who think for themselves and do the things that they dream of doing.
The MSU Leadership Fellows certificate program (LF) does just this, adding value to all MSU degrees. The program incorporates self-study, service work, and experiential education to empower students to become positive agents of change. Every semester, the students’ “Personal Leadership Plans” tell the story further.

Innovative MSU programs tap into students’ potential to lead.
One student fellow supplemented her study of books by leaders such as Rudy Giuliani, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton with an initiative to make the MSU campus smoke-free. Two students grew their non-profit Tias y Tios organization by enlisting other students to help support the children of Spanish speakers new to the area. A Sustained Dialogue chapter, designed to air out contentious issues, emerged when several students identified a need and worked to make it a reality. These are just a few examples of how students are merging their interests with a new understanding of themselves as leaders.

Montana State University student Michael Edwards talks during a presentation by MSU Leadership students.
Becoming an MSU Leadership Fellow during your undergraduate or graduate education is a straightforward process. Take the three-credit “Leadership Foundations” seminar, the three-credit Leadership Capstone seminar (recommended for senior or junior year), and 12 leadership electives from a list of over 150 approved courses. Easily tailored to fit any major, LF recently added a one-credit “Leadership Exploration” class for first-year students.
To get involved in the MSU Leadership Fellows Program, contact Carmen McSpadden at or visit