Good Luck

November 13th, 2019

ROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times


Interested in learning leadership skills to help progress in the difficult challenges faced in family, jobs and community?

Seward County Community College, along with the Kansas Leadership Center, is hosting a leadership class for Hispanic community members, the first of its kind in Southwest Kansas.

The class will take place Saturday, Aug. 31, at SCCC, and Janeth Vazquez, the coordinator of the class, is very excited for that day.

“We were able to collaborate and they decided to go with Liberal, but they’re hoping to recruit people from all throughout Southwest Kansas,” she said.

The class will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Vazquez said she got the idea for the class after going through the KLC back in February.

“I did a program called ‘Lead For Change, which is a week,” she said. “It’s basically split into two sessions, but it’s a weeklong course. The first time you go, you go for four days. The second time, you go for three days. You have to have a project. You have to have an adaptive challenge and something that is important for you. My challenge was I wanted to engage the Hispanic community more in community events and along with that, civic engagement. I have a coach who I check in with every two weeks. Along with my adaptive challenge, I decided it would be beneficial to bring a Spanish class out to Southwest Kansas and not just a Spanish class.”

There are also English classes at other times of year, one of which was completed about a month ago hosted by the Liberal Area Coalition for Families.

Vazquez said she hopes people understand leadership is an activity, not a position, and anyone can be a leader.

“Anybody can lead any time, anywhere,” she said. “I’m hoping people will benefit from this session and will become more involved in our community. My ultimate goal is to have more people educated. I know out here in Southwest Kansas, it’s hard for us to go out to leadership classes because one, maybe financial reasons, or two, time constraints, so this is a perfect opportunity for people to come out. They don’t have to travel out of town for the class, and they also don’t have to pay for the class because the class is going to be free.”

Whether in English or Spanish, Vazquez said the leadership courses are very similar. She said she is unsure of the demand for the Spanish class because there has never been one in this area.

“This is the very first time we’re doing this,” she said. “I think after this session, we’ll get a better idea. I feel in my personal opinion, there’s a big demand because we need more diversity in our leadership in this area, and this is just a start to try to promote people to get into those leadership roles.”

For people who cannot afford other leadership classes, the Aug. 31 event is free, which Vazquez said is the biggest benefit of all.

“When you go through Liberal LEAD or the Kansas Leadership Center or any other leadership institutions, there’s usually a fee,” she said. “This is the opportunity for people who are low income who cannot afford or don’t have the time to leave or to get out of work to go to a leadership class.”

Having the class on one day is something else Vazquez found beneficial.

“Not all employers are willing to send their employees during work hours, or they can’t afford to send their employees to these types of leadership classes,” she said.

Vazquez said she encourages all people to go through the KLC whether it be for the Spanish leadership class or for what the rest of the center offers.

“They offer a variety of programs,” she said. “They offer Leadership Edge, Lead For Change, Equip to Lead. The longer one is the Lead For Change.”

The latter class, which Vazquez went through, is one she said she learned a lot from and has benefitted from it.

“I have a coach who holds me accountable,” she said. “It’s nice to have that accountability because typically when you go through leadership classes, you go through it and it’s done, and you kind of just forget about it. With these type of leadership classes, you have somebody there who can help you and guide you with your project going forward even after the class is done.”

In addition to the KLC, Vazquez went through the Kansas Community College Leadership Institute this year, and she had gone through the local LEAD program the year before that. She said bringing leadership services to the area is her passion.

“I feel like they’ve helped me out a lot, and I’d like to see the same done for people in this community,” she said. “Sometimes because of the barriers of financial reasons or the work time constraints, people are unable to travel and go to these, so that’s why I’m very passionate about trying to bring these types of classes out here, not just in Spanish, but in English as well.”

Vazquez said the upcoming Spanish leadership class is for all of Southwest Kansas, not just Liberal.

“When we were first deciding the location, there was the possibility of having it in Dodge City and having it in Garden City, but I thought this was also the perfect opportunity to bring in people from other areas and attract them to Liberal,” she said. “It will also help our economy. If they come out here, they’re going to spend money on food, gas. It’s a way to attract our neighbors.”

Another benefit Vazquez said the class brings to Liberal is the pull it will have for people outside of Seward County, and while she was not sure of the demand for leadership classes, she did say the need for leadership in areas like Southwest Kansas is constant, particularly amongst youth.

“I still notice we need more young leaders in our community, not just Latinos, but all cultures,” she said. “I think because we have large populations of Hispanic people out here, that’s why there’s a need. We have a large percentage of young Latinos in this area.”

For those who want to take part in the upcoming leadership class, they can call Vazquez at 655-0408 or look up the event on Facebook at Kansas Leadership Center.

“There is a link on Facebook they have to sign up for,” she said. “The reason we’re having people sign up is breakfast is going to be included, and we have to arrange space. We want to make sure we have room for everybody. We would just prefer for people to sign up as soon as possible to make sure we have accommodations for everyone.”

For the English leadership classes, which charge a fee, there are scholarships available, and those interested can call Vazquez or SCCC Core team members Chandler Kirkhart and Charity Horinek.

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