Recently, the Roan Scholars traveled as a group to Chattanooga, TN, for their 2014 'Roan Leadership Experience.' An annual event that has traditionally taken place during either ETSU's winter or spring break period, the 'Leadership Experience' is intended to introduce them to new places, ideas, and examples of "leadership in action"; and to give them opportunities to engage with various leaders across a wide range of topics.
Having traveled to Washington D.C. during spring break 2013, this year the Scholars spent the last week of ETSU's winter break a little closer to home, learning about Chattanooga's recent downtown revitalization and ongoing growth and development - through the lens of leadership.
Initial meetings with a county planner from the local Development Resource Center, and with the City's Mayor, provided a valuable overview of Chattanooga's recent history, the various factors that contributed to its resurgence, and a look into priorities and initiatives for the next few years. Over the next couple days, Scholars visited TVA's Chattanooga facility - touring the Operations Center and Trading Floor, and talking with senior leaders in the organization – and Volkswagen Chattanooga, where they were able to see both the production plant and the new training academy.
Scholars also heard a great deal about some common themes associated with Chattanooga's recent transformation: public-private partnerships, entrepreneurship and small business development, and the importance of leadership. Meeting with local business people and community leaders from organizations such as The Company Lab, Lamp Post Group, River City Company, and Vision Hospitality Group, Inc – just to name a few – proved especially inspiring for many of the Scholars, and allowed them to establish connections for the future.
Returning to ETSU just in time for the start of spring semester classes, the next challenge for the Roan Scholars is finding ways to put some of this new found knowledge into action, on campus and in the community. With Scholars still talking about their Chattanooga experience, it's shaping up to be an exciting spring!