The Greek Emerging Leaders Program, also known as GEM, picked 35 new participants to serve as mentees for the spring semester and mentors for the fall semester of 2016. GEM has existed at Lehigh campus for more than five years, and has been expanding over the past few years to allow more students to participate.
The GEM program gives students affiliated with Greek life the opportunity to be leaders in their respective houses and in the Lehigh Greek community as a whole. GEM gives students and members of the administration a chance to discuss important topics in the Greek community and offers ways to facilitate beneficial change.
The program provides a place for members to develop leadership skills — particularly because most GEM students are already leaders in their own chapters, and channel those skills into keeping the Greek community connected and collaborative.
According to Erin Garrity, ’18, a GEM mentor, the program allows leaders to get together and stay on the same page.
“It’s a group of like-minded people who want to improve Greek life,” Garrity said.
Another mentor, Jordan Hess, ’18, said the GEM program is good for freshman in the Greek community because it provides them with resources to turn to for help. GEM is a community that promotes Greek unity, a place where Greek-affiliated students can meet other students from different chapters and work towards a common goal of improving the Greek experience.
Every two weeks, GEM members meet in sessions and facilitate discussions about Greek values, diversity, inclusion, hazing, positive change, stereotypes and Greek culture. The sessions are meant to inspire members to go back to their chapters and raise a dialogue about such topics and find ways apply solutions to these problems.
GEM focuses on finding resolutions to problems in the community, because although discussion is imperative, real change requires action. The GEM program exposes these leaders to issues regarding Greek life early, so the leaders have experience dealing with these prominent issues once they take leadership positions in their own chapters.
Becoming a GEM mentee and mentor is a competitive process. Interested students must submit an application and go through an interview process. GEM looks for Greek-affiliated students who show a strong passion for improving their community and possess leadership qualities.
Once new mentees are selected in the spring semester, they undergo a training period to become mentors. In the fall, they offer their mentor services to Lehigh’s Greek community.
There are currently 42 student mentees, 12 student mentors, one student coordinator and two faculty coordinators — Ashley Baudouin and Carter Gilbert.
Kallyse Duddlesten, ’17, the program’s student coordinator, said the work Greek emerging leaders do is important because it helps students develop their passions and realize each chapter has potential to do great things.
“(GEM is) a great reminder to the community about what’s important and what needs to be addressed,” Duddlesten said.
Hess, who is a sophomore in Kappa Alpha fraternity, said his experience as a GEM mentee helped him become the fraternity’s president.
Garrity said her goal is to help mentees realize their potential and to boost their leadership confidence.
She said a phrase commonly used by the GEM community is “leadership isn’t a title.” This encourages students to step up regardless of their position and be a positive influence on Lehigh’s Greek community.