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Feature   | Winter 2011

Follow our Leaders

Purdue leadership program paves the way

Korbin Davis in white lab coat, senior in biochemistry Korbin Davis (top), a student researcher at Purdue’s Center for Cancer Research, has been developing leadership skills at the same time he’s learning techniques used in scientific inquiry.

Korbin Davis is one of Purdue Agriculture’s top undergraduate scientists. The senior biochemistry major works in the lab of cancer researcher Xiaoqi Liu, investigating DNA damage caused by ultraviolet rays. He’s also a teaching assistant in human anatomy and physiology courses and tutors agriculture majors in chemistry. Medical school looms on the horizon.

Davis exhibits the same high aptitude for leadership that he does for science. 

As a sophomore, he enrolled in Purdue Agriculture’s Leadership Development Certificate Program, a non-credit, voluntary curriculum designed to help students sharpen so-called “soft” skills—leadership, interpersonal skills, communication and teamwork.

“LDCP is not just one thing. I’ve learned how to meet professionals, ask for an interview, build a network, work on a team, and choose the best opportunities for myself and others,” Davis said.

Roadmap for the Future
The LDCP was created in 2005 after employers interviewing at Purdue repeatedly said that students with leadership skills and experiences have a competitive edge in landing a job and succeeding in the workplace.

“This program helps students gain more confidence in their skills, regardless of whether they have been previously exposed to leadership experiences,” said Tracie Egger, program manager and assistant director of academic programs in agriculture.

When entering the program, students complete an assessment of their strengths and weaknesses. They are matched with a faculty or staff coach and develop a personal leadership plan, or what Egger calls a “roadmap for their leadership journey.”

Help Along the Way
Linda Vallade
, program leader for agriculture study abroad, has been a volunteer coach since the program started. “To be a coach, you really need to enjoy and appreciate students,” she said. “I’m always impressed by what they accomplish in the community and how they grow.”

Vallade said that coaches offer encouragement, guidance and suggestions. “One of our main roles is to support students as they step out of their comfort zones and stretch a little.”

“Coaches are important,” Egger added. “They nudge the students and help to keep them focused on goals and expectations. They reach out to the students and can make a difference in their lives.”


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