Belinda Brain joins Iowa State President’s Leadership Class

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–After Muscatine resident Belinda Brain enrolled at Iowa State University for her first year of college, she discovered an application on their website for the President’s Leadership Class. Curious, she applied and later found she had earned a spot in the class, which takes only 30 first year students. An opportunity she never expected, she has welcomed the chance to participate in this one-of-a-kind educational opportunity and earn a $1,000 scholarship.

For the duration of the class, students in the President’s Leadership Class meet once a week at the president’s residence, the Knoll, to learn about a variety of topics from Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen and other university leadership. So far, Brain shared the class has involved a wide variety of topics and learning activities, including taking a teamwork personality test to see how different people’s individual traits can strengthen the groups they work in, a resume generating workshop, an etiquette dinner, and a trip to the Student Innovation Center, a large scale maker space designed to support the interests and ideas of students across the disciplines.

So far, Brain has enjoyed the wide array of topics the President’s Leadership Class has covered and promises to cover throughout the semester. She elaborated, “When I applied for the class, I really didn’t know what it was about and have been pleasantly surprised by the different things we’ve done.”

To date, Brain has particularly liked participating in the etiquette dinner, as it provided a look into fine dining that she had never experienced before and that could be useful if future job interviews involve going out to dinner with the interviewers. She also found the resume building workshop useful, as college students put a lot of time into creating their resumes both for part time positions and as they prepare for their first professional job after graduation.

Muscatine resident Belinda Brain earned a spot in this year’s Iowa State University President’s Leadership Class. Photo courtesy Iowa State University.

Though Brain did not come to Iowa State expecting to study leadership, she finds that the experiences she had as a part of Muscatine FFA helped prepare her to do well in the class. “In high school, I got to be part of some teams for FFA,” she recalled. “Just being on those teams was a big help, and an experience I enjoyed and helped prepare me for this leadership class.”

In turn, Brain believes the skills she acquires through the President’s Leadership Class will help her after she completes her degree in public horticulture and takes a job in the field, such as working as an educator at a botanical garden. “Knowing how to be a really good leader and work with others and the community will be useful on a day to day basis,” she said. “The best leaders are the ones that find out the strengths of the people around them.”

Outside of the President’s Leadership Class, Brain has loved all of her other classes, which include weather and climate, Spanish, and her first horticulture class, plant identification. She has also enjoyed the beauty of Iowa State University’s campus, and the selection of clubs and activities available to students. For seniors in high school starting to think about their first year of college, she encourages them to keep their options open and to try any activities that interest them, as some she never expected to like have become her favorite things to do.

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