The Youth Development Leadership (YDL) program at Clemson University has been a very rewarding experience and has expanded my
thinking in many areas. I gained a greater understanding of research and evaluation by creating evaluation plans
for youth-serving organizations.
I grew in my knowledge of how to implement those practices into
youth programming. I strengthened my ability to coordinate lesson plan development and build curriculum. Additionally, I was encouraged to
reassess my views on diversity in youth development through introspection and by creating a comprehensive diversity plan. Having well-experienced and accessible faculty contributed significantly to
the learning process.
The YDL program also helped to expand my knowledge of relevant research in the field, and formalize some of the processes and concepts that
I had learned through experience in my years of youth development.
One of the most unexpected benefits of the the YDL program was the relationships that I built with other students. I was able to
collaborate with students that are currently serving as fund developers, youth pastors, camp directors, and more. Working with such a diverse group of YDLs
forced me to expand my thinking and consider viewpoints from youth development professionals. It is
a credit to the participating youth development leaders and Clemson University that deep relationships can be built in an online
major with students from across the country.
I am currently implementing concepts that I have learned during the YDL program into my areas of responsibility at Clemson, and will continue to do so. For example, my supervisor and I are leading the process to develop logic models for all of our major initiatives to be more purposeful about the “if-then” relationships in key areas. The logic models will create a picture of the organization’s programs and how they function. By linking the program outcomes to the activities, our directors will have a greater understanding of how to implement the program and evaluate its success. These program initiatives include at-risk programs, charter schools, camp-based programs, professional development trainings, and more. For an example of a logic model, see the Crossover Athletics Basketball Developmental League Logic Model on the artifacts page.
Moving forward, I plan to continue to serve in the field of youth development, both professionally at YLI and personally as a volunteer in my local church and other non-profits in Lexington, SC. I feel
that it is my responsibility to be a youth development leader through advocacy for educational achievement, spiritual development,
and life skills development. Two initiatives that reflect this advocacy are serving on the board of the national Run Hard Running Team organization and serving as a staff elder at Radius Church to provide leadership for the youth department in my local community.