This month, brothers James Kastner and Aaron Benwic were named Huntsman Leadership Scholars for 2017, being selected to represent our chapter and university at the Horizons Huntsman Leadership Summit in Snowbird, UT. Let's see what they have to say!
So.. what exactly is Horizons?
Aaron: Horizons is an all-expense paid week-long leadership development program for undergraduate brothers with two or more years left of university, taking place in the beautiful mountain ranges of Snowbird, Utah. The program selects approximately 50 brothers for each of five sessions that occur over the summer, representing the 15,000 current undergraduate brothers across Canada and the United States. The program highlights the importance of values-based leadership, and equips brothers with the necessary knowledge and skills to be an effective leader in their own chapters, campuses, and broader communities.
What were your first thoughts when you arrived in Snowbird, UT?
James: It was easy to be intimidated upon arrival at Snowbird. I was entering a foreign location, meeting 47 other brothers from across North America and completely alone. On our first bus ride as a group, I started off shy and anti-social, sitting alone. Halfway through the drive, I looked around and recognized that everyone was as uncomfortable as me. I stood up, sat down next to another brother who was sitting by himself and took that necessary leap of faith that everyone else had taken before me. I quickly understood that everyone has fear, yet we do not need to let this fear control us. As said by Nelson Mandela, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” This realization allowed me to truly experience the experience because in order to understand others, I first had to understand myself.
What are you key takeaways from the program?
James: Horizons allowed me to gain self-confidence as a leader, build valuable communication skills and learn how to understand the perspective of others when making critical decisions. I now understand the concept of values-based leadership and have discovered which values control and direct my actions. This is so important because how can you expect others to follow you, when you don’t even know who you are?
Aaron: Through Horizons, I have embraced the growing process of leadership, which first begins with a deep understanding of one’s self and others - leveraging differences and working effectively to take action towards a shared vision in order to bring about positive change in the community. I learned about different social styles and their respective growth actions, and how to apply these to my everyday interactions at school, in the workplace, and in my own personal life to effectively improve my versatility and relationships with others. Overall, this experience has reinforced the importance of having a life-long commitment to values-based leadership, and striving to be the best version of myself.
Do you have a favourite part?
James: One of my favourite learnings from the program, “Feedback is a gift”, is so relevant because it is easy to receive negative feedback and feel nothing but anger and resentment. Although difficult at first, my most memorable experience was receiving feedback from other brothers that observed my leadership behaviours throughout the week. You quickly discover whether others perceive you in the same manner that you perceive yourself, and the reason they do so. This allows you to establish a starting point for your development as a leader and grow from there.
Aaron: We got the chance to go visit the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, founded by Significant Sig and Order of Constantine Sig - John M. Huntsman Sr. (PENNSYLVANIA, 1959). It was very interesting to learn more about the HCI, its research centre and treatment facilities, being our main philanthropic beneficiary, as cancer is very real and can affect anyone at any time.
What would you say to brothers interested in applying?
James: “You haven’t applied yet? What are you thinking???”
In all seriousness, do not let the application scare you! If anything, it is a thought-provoking process that prepares you for the experience. It saddens me that our chapter had only 4 applicants this year because not enough brothers made the effort to familiarize themselves with Horizons and what it entails. Only 240 brothers obtain this valuable educational experience each year. If not you, then who?
Aaron: I highly encourage brothers to apply once applications for 2018 become available. Regardless of whether or not you get selected, the application process challenges you to reflect on yourself and your values, and serves as a stepping-stone in helping you become the best leader you can be. This experience has probably been one of the best weeks of my year thus far; I've learned so much about myself, others, and what it means to be a values-based leader, and made meaningful relationships with brothers all across the country and the United States. If not now, then when?
To learn more about Horizons and the application process, click the button below: