Building student involvement, fostering civic engagement and enhancing community service to advance public health. 


Twenty-five student leaders spent a fast and fun two hours talking and thinking through the many aspects of what it means to be a leader with Mindy Nierenberg (from Tufts’ Tisch College) and Nancy Marks. While munching on a dinner of chicken parmesan and pesto tortellini, folks dialogued in pairs and then as a group, about how to be an effective leader using verbal and non-verbal skills. Students were asked to think about leadership both as student leaders at TUSDM and in the future as a dentist.

The group was then divided into teams of 5 and given the same materials—4 cups, a bowl, 7 sticks, tape and two rolls of paper. The assignment was to spend five minutes planning how you would build a 5-foot tower. After the planning time, groups were given 5 minutes to build it… with the building done in silence. The room went from a cacophony of noise to a room so quiet all you could hear was tape bring ripped to laughter when time was called. Participants were asked to reflect on what happened as a group, as well as their own participation in terms of when they ‘led’ and when they ‘followed’.

Some participant quotes:

  • “The leadership workshop was a fun and collaborative experience that demonstrated diverse leadership strategies including the importance of both verbal and nonverbal communication techniques that are beneficial in effectively managing teams and groups of people in many situations we may face as students, clinicians, and members of the community.” – Ben
  • “The activities at the leadership dinner allowed me to measure the strength of my voice as a leader and it also showed me areas that I could improve on.” – Tracy
  • “This training reminded me that learning to be a leader is a continual process, and I will likely never feel I have finished.” – Courtney
  • “The leadership dinner/training was a great way for me to realize other ways in which leadership can be gained. I learned through one exercise that sometimes non-verbal communication needs to be done in order to reach an overall positive outcome. Mindy Nierenberg offered great advice that leadership can be created and developed over time as opposed to “being born a leader.” – Micheline
  • “This was one of the best leadership trainings I’ve ever been to. It was a lot of fun and helpful at the same time. I love that it was so interactive instead of just a presentation.” – Aekta
  • “I learned that being a leader mean being a good listener and having good judgment when it comes to compromising. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you listen to each other and work together.” – Sandy
  • “Teamwork is the foundation for success!” – John
  • “Regardless of our backgrounds, we are still a part of one community. As such, we can set aside  our differences and work in harmony towards improving that community. – Hammad
  • “I came to better understand that a leader does not need to always be the loudest and most outspoken in the room, but rather someone that can make those around them better without them being aware.”          – Ramin
  • “It was a refreshing experience and I enjoyed Mindy’s facilitation of both the discussions and activities. I came away with a new view on how to work in a group/team setting. I learned that regardless of what leadership styles are present in a group their success is based on how you as an individual communicates with them and how the team will utilize everyone’s strengths.”  – Jackie


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