Student leaders make impact in tornado affected area

By Carol Nelson, Office of Communications and Marketing


A group of 60 Auburn students recently took part in the LeaderShape Institute at the 4-H Center in Columbiana.

LeaderShape is an intensive six-day leadership development experience that focuses on building skills and promoting self-discovery.

"LeaderShape is a program that is geared toward college students to help them build themselves as leaders and to help them focus on their strong points and how to become effective leaders in organizations on campus and within the community," said Beatrice Onadeko, one of the students who participated in the program.

Originally developed in 1986 by Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity, the Institute was designed as a means of improving campus leadership.  In 1988, LeaderShape®, Inc. was formed as a separate not-for-profit corporation to take charge of The LeaderShape Institute and further its mission of developing young adults to lead with integrity.

As a part of the experience, the students visited Pratt City, a Birmingham suburb and one of the areas hit hardest by the April 27 tornadoes. A number of the students who participated in the program are from the Birmingham area and were deeply moved by the devastation they witnessed.

"I was really scared and my stomach dropped," said J.T. Howard. "I thought, 'Wow, is this my Alabama, my Birmingham, Alabama?' I couldn't believe it."

Students worked at a volunteer center organizing supplies, moving hundreds of gallons of water and removing debris from homes in the neighborhoods.

"I think that was one of the most influential parts of the program," said Onadeko. "We've all seen the damage on the news, but you don't really know how serious the situation is until you see it in person. It was very heartbreaking to see, but I also think more people need to see it to really understand the seriousness of the matter."

For more on LeaderShape at Auburn, go to

For more on Auburn Relief Efforts, go to

Last Updated: May 20, 2011

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