The Kelter Leadership Program: Nurturers of Tomorrow’s Leaders

3 min read

Frieda Seo ’26

Contributing Writer

The Kelter Leadership Program is a thorough program designed to develop leadership qualities in undergraduate students. The program, offered to a selected number of first years, helps students develop the fundamental qualities of leadership, service and community. The Kelter Leadership Program offers a well-rounded education, stressing the significance of “design thinking,” that goes beyond textbooks and lectures by fusing academic excellence with practical learning. The program is largely based on the bestseller “Designing Your Life: How to Build a WellLived, Joyful Life” by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, which is based on “Designing Your Life,” a course taught at Stanford University by the authors themselves.

The program’s emphasis on experiential learning is one of its defining characteristics. Students have access to internships, research opportunities, and community service projects that enable them to apply what they learn in the classroom to real-world settings. In the spring, the first years selected for the program are paired up with a Hartford-based company and they intern there for six weeks. At their internships, students gain leadership qualities, problem-solving skills, and a thorough understanding of the topics they are passionate about thanks to the taught Life Design.

The program covers a variety of leadership topics that are designed to enhance important abilities. The subjects covered in the bi-weekly meetings range widely, from moral decision-making to effective communication. Through acquiring these skills, firstyears develop a solid foundation in leadership principles that will help them succeed in their future careers.

The Kelter Leadership Program is a wonderful way to make connections. First years are assigned to an intern, a past Kelter scholar, who helps their mentees in anything imaginable. These former Kelter first years, assist current first years in navigating the challenges of the working world and Trinity College by serving as both mentors and role models. As students transition past their first year, the connections made through the Kelter Leadership Program remain. Students not only get to know their fellow Kelter scholars but also get personal with the career coaches that guide the Kelter Program, International Student Program Coordinator and Career & Life Design Coach Maria Dyane and Executive Director of Career and Life Design Joseph Catrino. They also connect with their fellow interns at their paired company, as well as their supervisors and other staff members at such company.

Numerous success stories have emerged from the program. To reference an article written by Andrew Concatelli, some success stories include Makayla Cervantes ’26 who interned at the Hartford Office of U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal; Peter Haddad’ 26 who interned at Charter Oak Boxing Academy; Lillian McDonald ’26 who interned at TheaterWorks. In addition, Jorge Espinoza-Gonzalez ’26 who interned at The Office of the Secretary of the State and myself, Frieda Seo, who interned at the Office of Equity and Opportunity at Hartford’s City Hall.

The Kelter Leadership Program is a great resource to grow as a person. It offers opportunities seldom found elsewhere and leads its scholars towards the path of success.

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