When I first applied to the Master of Science in Youth Development Leadership (YDL) program at Clemson University I wrote in my personal statement that I wanted to expand upon the knowledge I had gained of youth development during my bachelors program in Health Promotion. Over the past two years I believe this program has allowed me to accomplish that and more. I went into the program narrow minded and thinking of development from a strictly physical mindset. Through this program I have widened that mind set and gained knowledge of the way that Youth Development Leaders help to develop youth physically, mentally, socially, culturally and more. I came into this program without any knowledge of the topics of program evaluation, grant writing, program development, and management of staff and volunteers. I grew in my knowledge of these topics and was able to successfully create program development plans, lesson plans, an evaluation proposal, a grant proposal, and successful ways to recruit, train and retain volunteers and staff. Additionally I was able to broaden my ways of thinking when it came to utizlizng technology for the future success of dance students that I currently work with.
Prior to completing Youth Development Leadership program I worked with my students quite differently. I would handle situations with a firm than gentle approach. I would allow frustrations with students not acting appropriately in class or having difficulty with choreography control how I reacted. Now when approaching these situations I take the time to figure out the root of the difficulties. Instead of constantly asking why they keep doing things wrong I ask my students what I can do to help. What do they need from me? I am more open to changes and adapting to what works best for the students I am working with.
A very rewarding aspect of the YDL program are the people that I met along the way. I was able to collaborate with many different students with very diverse backgrounds. It definitely says something about the structure and planning of the program and the staff that lead the way, that such meaningful and personal relationships can be formed through a program that is completed over the internet.
In the future I hope to even further utilize concepts learned throughout this program by actively working to implement programs such as the Dancer Development Program (see Using Technology for Dancers Post Graduate Success) at Burns Dance Studio and work within the community of Aiken to develop the Fitness Obstacle Course (see Application & Reflection of E-QYP) program at local community centers and after school programs. I plan to continue teaching dance, working with youth and training in the fitness industry in Aiken, SC.