A Lesson in Leadership: Students Get Training in Entrepreneurship, Business, and Community Building at Laspa Student Leadership Institute


Laspa workshop

This August, the Laspa Center for Leadership at Scripps College held its second annual Student Leadership Institute (SLI), a four-day program designed to help students who hold leadership positions on campus—members of student government, officers of campus clubs and organizations, peer mentors, residential advisors, and others—hone their management abilities and develop community- and coalition-building skills. Eighty-five Scripps students participated, and trainings included keynote presentations by model leaders from the L.A. area and senior College administrators, as well as workshops, alumnae panels, and working groups.

“This year’s institute truly highlighted the strengths of our Scripps community in cultivating engaged student leaders,” said event organizer Jenn Wells, a the assistant dean and director of Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment (SCORE).


President Lara Tiedens delivered the opening remarks to the SLI: “As an educator first, I see your leadership positions partly as leading this college into the future, but also as a learning laboratory for you: This is a class for you in leadership and you are figuring out the path that will allow you to accomplish your goals.”


Elizabeth Lopez ’09 was the keynote speaker for the first day of the institute. She is the regional program coordinator for the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Public Safety: “The entrepreneurial spirit is something that we tap into—it helps us figure out where we are, where we want to be, and identify our potential. So, what drives you? Where is there room for change? What words or ideas move you? And remember: After you execute your goals, have fun! Find balance and take care of yourself and those around you.”


Students had daily meetings with alumnae; here, Michelle Cleveland ’00, who received the Scripps 2018 Distinguished Alumnae Award for her transformational work in public education, discusses her leadership journey with an SLI participant.


The keynote speaker on day two, Mya Stark, is the director of LA Makerspace, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching science and technology to school-aged kids. In her presentation, she said, “There are so many reasons to teach tech skills— not just for future jobs, but because they have metacognitive benefits, encourage problem-solving, and help people connect with the joy that comes with learning and to identify with being ‘makers’—people who are creative and capable”


Resident advisor and biochemistry Major Kristi Lee ’20 enjoys breakfast with SLI peers and reflects on her favorite aspect of the week: “The alumni speaker panel was truly inspiring. Hearing about the leadership roles of past Scripps students and how they applied that experience to their future careers demonstrated to me the confidence, passions, and resilience of our alumnae.”


Arthur Levine and Maria Alonso of Huerto del Valle delivered a keynote speech on day three of the institute, describing the work their organization does to create food, promote jobs, and strengthen communities. On the topic of collaboraiton, Maria Alonso said, “Collaboration has been so important to Huerta del Valle— with volunteers, the city, with funders—none of this would be possible without them. As young leaders, you cannot underestimate the importance of collaboration.”

Arthur Levine spoke about innovative leadership: “Part of innovative leadership is working across cultures and across communities—bridging gaps and working together


Graduates of the LASPA Student Leadership Institute at the event commencement celebration dinner. “We have heard great feedback already from students,” said Wells. “About how much they appreciated having Scripps staff facilitate workshops based on their expertise, hearing from our amazing alumnae during the themed dinners, and engaging with their fellow student leaders in conversations about being intentional and inclusive leaders in Scripps community.”