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Mariner Leadership Academy provides leadership development opportunities
Posted 09/27/2016 09:38AM

By Brittany Tate

Brian Weese is adamant about getting students career ready. Whether it's through resume building, career development workshops or identifying occupations and matching students' interests with associated majors, Weese, Director of Career Development, is not shy in saying that these things are needed to help students put their dreams in action.

With programs like the Mariner Leadership Academy in place, Weese knows that the skills and experiences obtained from career development activities can assist students in their classroom-to-workplace transition.

Designed to provide leadership development opportunities for students and alumni at all levels, Mariner Leadership Academy (MLA) was created to replace the Backpack-to-Briefcase Career Development Series but with a focus on student government leaders, student workers, student organization leaders and members, and students who aspire to these positions, Weese said.

"We partnered with Student Life, Diversity & Inclusion, and Counseling and Disability Services to replace B2B to create more offerings and different presentations and to encourage more students to participate," he asserted.

In Jaime Parker-Lewis' opinion, combining individual programs to create one cohesive series seemed like a more pragmatic approach to helping the students.

"Student employment and leadership opportunities both offer valuable skills and are important to prospective employers. No matter the area of campus, each of us are committed to our students being gainfully employed after graduation," said Parker-Lewis, Director of Campus Center and Student Life.

"With that being said, I talked merging programs with Career Services so that we can provide additional trainings and workshops of higher quality that cover skills needed now and post graduation."

The hope, she added, is that by combining efforts "we can improve the number of programs, avoid duplicating efforts and have more professional staff as part of the process."

Brittany Garcia, Coordinator of Student Engagement and Intercultural Programs in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, shared her sentiments.

"Being part of the Mariner Leadership Academy is a great opportunity for all our offices to come together for a common goal, and that is making students aware of the offices on campus, the resources we offer as well at the community," Garcia said.

"The academy exposes students to career readiness, life after college, cultural competency and leadership development and so far it's been a great way for us to reach out to the diverse student population."

In order to participate in MLA, students must register and upload a resume and cover letter on Coastal CareerLink. Both must be approved by Career Services for them to receive credit toward completion of the program.

Additionally, participants must also attend at least one seminar from each of the six themes offered, complete four hours through CCGA Serves and join at least one campus organization or work on campus.

"This is our first year with this program. Students can come to as many as they want but we encourage them to participate in two presentations of each theme offered because they cover various topics from finances to personal development and branding to teambuilding," Weese said.

In the past, students who participated in B2B received a CCGA custom pad folio and certificate upon completion. Once they complete this newly updated program, they will be honored at a dining etiquette dinner and receive some professional items for job interviews.

So far, Weese is seeing a steady stream of student turnout. Some of the MLA events have already had as many as 40 participants.

"My hope for the program is to reach more students by offering exciting and innovative programming that helps them develop the leadership and soft skills they will need to succeed in the 'real world,'" Weese said.

"Our faculty do a great job of giving students the academic foundation they need, and we hope to supplement that foundation to produce students that are well-rounded and can compete against any graduate out there."

Garcia agreed, adding that she's excited to see where this program will lead over the course of the year.

"At the end of the day our goal is to see students be successful, graduate, and find their support group on campus," she said.

The Mariner Leadership Academy is a joint effort with Counseling Disabilities Services, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and Student Life.

It is open to any student or alumni who are looking to develop their brand through enhanced leadership skills. Each program is held at 4 p.m. Tuesdays and 12 p.m. Fridays in the Student Activities Center, unless otherwise stated.

The six themes that are included in MLA's requirements include Teambuilding, Communication, Professional Development, Specialized/Technical Skills, Diversity and Inclusion, and Personal Development/Branding/Finances.

The next MLA events will be held at 4 p.m. today, September 27, and 12 p.m. Friday, September 30. Both presentations will be held in the SAC Meeting Room. The Tuesday program is dealing with presentation skills and public speaking; the Friday event is centered on ways to run an effective meeting.

A stress management and test anxiety-themed MLA program will be held at 12 p.m. today, September 27, at the Camden Center in Kingsland.

Students can reserve a seat through Coastal CareerLink,, or through the MyCCGA portal and click on "Career Services" in the Student Services folder.

For more information on the Mariner Leadership Academy or other upcoming events through the Fall 2016 calendar, check the calendar on or call Brian Weese at 912-279-4564.

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