Sabrina de la Vega
Sabrina de la Vega, MPP Class of 2021

Sabrina de la Vega, MPP Class of 2021, shared her experience taking one of her favorite courses at Harris.

During the fall 2021 quarter I had the pleasure of taking Exercising Leadership in the 21st Century with author and leadership expert Caroline Johnson. I loved this class not only because my good friend and fellow Admissions Graduate Assistant Nora McConnell-Johnson was the Teaching Assistant but because of the valuable lessons I learned about myself throughout the course.

Harris’s motto, “Social Impact, Down to a Science,” may seem hard to apply to some extracurricular coursework at first glance. But I would argue this course did exactly that, showcasing the science of how we work as individuals and how that fits into teams in organizations. Not only is Harris providing us with tangible on-the-job hard skills, but, equally important, soft skills that will make us assets in the workforce.

My favorite part about this course was taking the Indigo Assessments personality assessment and then learning about the results with the CEO of the company herself, who is a friend of the instructor. This assessment, like many personality assessments, taught me a lot about myself as an individual. Perhaps the most rewarding part of the class, however, was the in-depth analysis of how we work best in teams and our strengths and weaknesses as leaders. There were really tangible elements of the assessment that I was able to directly apply to help me in my job search and in group projects.

Bringing in a leadership expert and author who taught leadership at the Naval Academy, and then bringing in the expertise of the CEO of Indigo Assessments to help us better interpret the results of the personality test, is the kind of expertise I was looking for when I applied to Harris. This course, in the virtual world, has also been such a relief and welcome change of pace in my weekly routine. During one course, while discussing the effects of stress on leadership and exploring the stressors we are all facing currently, Caroline allowed us to practice a bit of what she was preaching and we took a short break to focus on breathing and stretching our bodies.

It has also been the most interactive course I have experienced, even in a virtual setting. Through the use of collaborative platforms like Jam Boards, and annotating directly on the slides through Zoom, we have all had the opportunity to speak up and learn from each other. The final exam is case study team presentation style and I cannot imagine a more applicable skill for going into the workforce than knowing how to work under a deadline with a team on a deliverable.

The Core Curriculum can sometimes sound daunting with the heavy quantitative focus, but I urge students to look holistically at what they’ll gain at Harris. I am confident the combination of quantitative hard skills and expertise in soft skills I am gaining in classes like Exercising Leadership in the 21st Century will be invaluable for me when starting my career.