What is the Global Spartan Leadership Program?

The MSU Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) would like to congratulate the inaugural class of Global Spartan Leaders for successfully completing a rigorous year-long program. The Global Spartan Leadership Program (GSLP), which OISS began in the fall of 2016 is an intercultural leadership program designed to help international undergraduate students prepare to lead in a global world. The Global Spartan Leadership Program offers 12 participants the opportunity to build their intercultural awareness, their global leadership skills and their understanding of the responsibilities of global citizenship.

thumbnail_file-1Program participants attended a mandatory non-credit weekly seminar for the fall 2016 and spring 2017 semesters. This seminar focused on improving personal leadership and intercultural communication skills and emphasized the importance of leading consistently and ethically with emotional intelligence. Students completed assignments outside the seminar and participated in leadership conferences and cultural events.  They also shared their culture and experiences as international students on campus and in the greater Lansing community.

Upon completion of all requirements of the program, students received an $8,000 scholarship to assist with their tuition. In addition, OISS fully funded their spring break service learning trip.

This year the GSLs went on an Alternative Spring Break to Memphis, Tennessee, and supported a variety of service projects in the community. One project involved participants setting up a gymnasium in a community center to resemble Nigeria to give local children a chance to “take a trip around the world” and enjoy a cultural experience.

“At first, it didn’t feel like we were doing anything important when we were spray painting cardboard,” said Amber Cordell, OISS Educational Programs Manger and coordinator of the GSLP. “But when the kids came in and we saw them enjoying learning about a new culture during their spring break, we got a sense of why helping create this event mattered.”

GSLs also helped children with their homework at an after-school program for refugees, took elementary school kids to the Memphis Zoo and also helped clean the Target House, which is where families can stay when their children are at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In their free time, GSLs went to the National Civil Rights Museum, a Memphis Grizzlies basketball game, Sun Studio, the Peabody Hotel and Beale Street.

“One evening, we attended a presentation from some advocates who were talking about incarceration and poverty in Memphis. They gave us time for small group discussions and one of the students said to me, ‘Oh, this is why you’ve been teaching us about social justice in the context of global leadership all year.’ It just clicked for them. Everything I had shared with them and had them do for homework finally seemed relevant,” Cordell said. “When we were volunteering at the refugee center in Memphis, the students were inspired to come back and volunteer at the refugee center right here in Lansing.  The trip shifted their minds to realize that small actions can make such a big difference in people’s lives and that there is so much work to do in our own community.”

Cordell said she noticed a great difference in the class discussions after spring break.

“Through our trip, students bonded and were able to open up and share more with each other,” Cordell said. “Students with such diverse backgrounds now trust each other and are willing to have difficult but critical conversations about how to make a positive impact on the world.”

OISS has selected 12 international undergraduate students for the 2017-2018 Global Spartan Leadership Program. “I am so proud of the successful completion of our first year of the GSLP. I dreamed of creating this opportunity for many years and look forward to making it even better next year!” said Cordell.


What was the best part of the program?

  • “I got to develop myself as a leader and gained more understanding of myself and others as well as an opportunity to embrace cultural differences.” – Wes Samutpanich, supply chain sophomore from Thailand
  • “For me, the best part of the program was improving my weaknesses, pushing myself outside my comfort zone and making new friends.” – Pai Peng, supply chain management junior from China
  • “The best part of the program was being surrounded by people from all sorts of different backgrounds and cultures and analyzing diverse issues through various perspectives.” – Isabella Muszkat Besborodco, business-marketing junior from Brazil
  • “I gained diverse leadership skills and experiences to successfully and confidently interact with people from all cultures and backgrounds and to be able to lead them.”- Hassan Tarrar, computer science and engineering junior from Pakistan

What is so influential about this program?

  • “It is a great opportunity to become a Global Spartan Leader and meet many other great leaders from other parts of the world.” – Julia Vitsek, psychology junior from Germany
  • “It is a great way to find out who you are and what your own problems are. Also, it is great to find out how I am different from other people. Of course, it will give you an amazing opportunity to meet people from different countries and speak to them.” – Gahyun Choi, advertising sophomore from South Korea
  • “This program gives you the opportunity to be part of an international team. Being an international student, this is important because it creates a safe space in a foreign country.” – Filippo Merlo, psychology senior from Italy
  • “The Global Spartan Leadership Program was the biggest highlight of my college experience. It was entirely free, and I got a scholarship for learning so much through the program. No matter what industry you will get into in the future, this program prepares you for anything.” – Yuqi Zhang, accounting sophomore from China
  • “I was able to expand my worldview and to really learn how to be a global leader and someone who gives to the world.”- Marsya Mohd Johari, journalism junior from Malaysia

What is your favorite leadership quote?

  • Bahij Hourani, finance sophomore from Lebanon: “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Megha Erappa, computer science engineering sophomore from India/Dubai: “Great leaders don’t set out to be a leader … they set out to make a difference.” – Lisa Haisha
  • Tajudeen Adekoya, finance junior from Nigeria: “Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work.” – Vince Lombardi

Congratulations to the 2016-2017 Global Spartan Leaders!

Julia Vitsek is a psychology junior from Germany. Her favorite film about leadership is Invictus.
Pai Peng is a supply chain junior from China. His favorite film about leadership is Remember the Titans.
Wes Samutpanich is a supply chain sophomore from Thailand. His favorite film about leadership is Forest Gump.
Filippo Merlo is a psychology senior from Italy. His favorite film about leadership is Remember the Titans.
Bahij Hourani is a finance sophomore from Lebanon. His favorite leadership film is Invictus.
Isabella Muszkat Besborodco is a marketing junior from Brazil. Her favorite leadership film is Remember the Titans.
Megha Erappa is a computer science engineering major from India/Dubai. Her favorite leadership film is Ghandi.
Yuqi Zhang is an accounting sophomore from China. Her favorite film about leadership is Pay It Forward.
Gahyun Choi is an advertising sophomore from South Korea. Her favorite leadership movie is Hacksaw Ridge.
Hassan Tarar is a computer science and engineering junior from Pakistan. His favorite film about leadership is Invictus.
Tajudeen Adekoya is a finance junior from Nigeria. His favorite film about leadership is The Pursuit of Happyness.
Marsya Mohd Johari is a journalism junior from Malaysia. Her favorite film about leadership is 12 Angry Men.