Friday, September 21, 2018

Meet a Roadrunner: Eliot Howard is helping build better leaders at UTSA

Meet a Roadrunner: Eliot Howard is helping build better leaders at UTSA

Eliot Howard oversees programming for the UTSA Student Leadership Center.

(July 5, 2017) -- Meet Eliot Howard. He’s part of the team helping Roadrunners unlock and explore their leadership potential.

Howard is the associate director of the UTSA Student Leadership Center (SLC), which provides students with enriching leadership development opportunities on campus and in the community. Alongside Assistant Dean of Students Lydia Bueno and SLC Program Coordinator Vincent Perez, Howard oversees UTSA’s leadership-focused academic course, experiential learning programs and outreach opportunities.

“The UTSA Student Leadership Center is dedicated to building up the leaders in our Roadrunner community through education, immersion experiences and engagement in a community of leadership practice,” Howard says. “It is an important resource that encourages all students to serve their communities and lead productive and meaningful lives.”

The SLC enhances Roadrunners’ abilities in the areas that forge strong leaders, such as communication, teamwork, critical thinking, personal responsibility and social responsibility. It offers an annual class and monthly workshops, shares civic engagement opportunities and facilitates travel to conferences for UTSA students. One of its most popular annual programs is the LeaderShape® Institute, a six-day educational experience that helps 60 to 70 students understand what it means to “live and lead with integrity.”

“I’m always happy when I see new people join our programs, or even just knock on our door asking about what it is that we do,” Howard says. “It’s immensely satisfying for us to introduce new students to what leadership means, help them unlock their potential and then see them leading later on down the road. As a lover of travel and adventure, it is motivating for me to think about how each of our students are embarking on their own life journeys. My work is essentially about encouraging students’ inclinations and imaginations about adventurous personal goals as well as helping them prepare for meaningful service.”

Howard also coordinates off-campus activities for students. Each winter, he is a part of the team overseeing the annual Civil Rights and Social Justice Experience Trip that takes 40 UTSA students on a four-state tour of important monuments from the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Since it was created in 2011, hundreds of UTSA students have taken part in the experience, which gives them a better understanding of the history of civil rights in the United States.

“In addition to our day to day programming, the Student Leadership Center bridges leadership concepts with social justice to help students understand that social responsibility and civic engagement are aspects of leadership,” Howard says. “I can’t count the number of students who have come back from the trips saying how inspired they were by visiting the monuments from the Civil Rights Movement, and how the experience has encouraged them to be more involved in their communities.”

A UTSA staff member for more than a dozen years, Howard originally joined UTSA as part of the Outdoor Pursuits program offered by Campus Recreation. He is an avid rock climber, cyclist and runner and rides his bicycle to and from work nearly every day, something he began doing several years ago as a way to reduce his carbon footprint and for exercise.

In 2015, Howard tested his mettle at the Comrades Marathon, a 56-mile ultramarathon in South Africa. He was encouraged to enter the race by his wife, Liza, a professional ultra-runner and coach. At the ultra-marathon, he was surrounded by an international community of leaders.

“So many of my fellow runners exemplified leadership in that they were giving their best personal effort while also inspiring the best efforts of others,” Howard says. “There were times I thought I wasn’t going to be able to complete the marathon, but the words of support from those running alongside me kept me going. That encouragement and sense of community is something that I’ll never forget. That sense of community is something that I hope we can instill in our students through the Student Leadership Center.”

Howard received his M.A. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Northern Colorado in 2004 and his B.S. in Plant Science from Cornell University in 1995.

- Jesus Chavez

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