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McLean earns National Leader of the Year Award

Barry McNamara
11/10/2017
MONMOUTH, Ill. – In part through the James and Sybil Stockdale Fellows Program he helped implement, Jake McLean is charged with developing the next generation Monmouth College student leaders.

Those aspiring leaders are in very good hands, as McLean was awarded the National Leader of the Year Award earlier this month at the Lead365 National Conference. The event, held in Orlando, Fla., was also attended by second-year Stockdale Fellows Alexis Brauer of Springfield, Ill., Quentin Kaihara of Chicago and Hadley Smithhisler of Valley City, N.D.

“The recognition is awesome, but it just means I’m doing good work for our students, our College and our community,” said McLean, a 2015 Monmouth graduate who serves as assistant director of leadership development.

The award is given to an undergraduate, graduate student, faculty member or professional staff member who shows the courage and vision to actively advocate for positive change and “should be an example of what it means to explore, engage, and evolve. ... Because of this nominee, something very tangible has changed or is changing.”

In McLean’s case, the most obvious change has been the Stockdale Fellows program, which is now in its second year. One of the College’s more prestigious scholarship, leadership and enrichment programs, Stockdale Fellows participate in a comprehensive four-year leadership development program.

“It focuses on some of the same things that Lead365 emphasizes in their mission – the exploration of one’s self, their identity,” said McLean. “Who they want to be as leaders, not just for themselves and their organizations on campus, but who they want to be when they leave here as active, globally minded citizens.”

Mclean said the Stockdale Fellows program attempts to put leadership stereotypes to rest.

“I think ‘leadership’ is a term that gets widely used and thrown around but often isn’t talked about in a real way,” he said. “People have that misconception that leadership is synonymous with having a position of authority. The Stockdale Fellows program kind of smashes those notions of what leadership is and tries to come together with an operational term.”

McLean meets regularly with Stockdale Fellows, and he also has one-on-one meetings with other students about leadership issues.

“I see a lot of myself in some of the students I work with,” said McLean, who credits his interest in leadership to the experiences he had as a Monmouth student. “I’m trying to give them lessons that I didn’t learn until after I graduated.”

McLean recalls wanting to be as involved as possible as a student and rarely turned down an opportunity.

“Through my involvement, I saw how things connected with not only how I was learning in the classroom but how I was using that outside,” he said.

McLean said he wants all students to view themselves as potential leaders.

“(I hope) we can come to understand leadership as a process, as a thing for everybody to have the opportunity to learn and not look at it as the accumulation of titles, power,” he said. “When everybody can have that idea of leadership as an interactive process that requires everybody, that’s the dream. Leadership is open to anybody.”