Program Encourages Students to Develop Leadership Skills

April 10, 2017 at 9:24 am

It’s one thing to learn about the world but it’s something altogether different to learn about oneself – just ask Kashari Cromer.

A senior majoring in business management at the George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics, Cromer was one of the first University of South Carolina Upstate students to receive certification through The BB&T Leadership Institute’s Emerging Leadership Program.

“It was very valuable,” Cromer said of the six-hour, two-day program. “My favorite thing about the program is that you’re basically just learning about yourself and the beliefs and characteristics that you need in order to become a successful leader.”

The BB&T Leadership Institute provides leadership development programs for corporate executives, business owners, BB&T clients and education leaders. In 2016, 819 higher-education students were certified through the Emerging Leadership Program, according to Brittany Brown, BB&T Leadership Institute student leadership program manager.

Developing leaders is part of the culture at BB&T, Brown said.

“Leadership is intangible — a lot of people think you either have it or you don’t,” said Brittany Brown, The BB&T Leadership Institute student leadership program manager. “We believe  everyone can be a leader. It’s actually a part of you that can be nurtured and grown.”

During the Emerging Leadership Program, students undergo assessments to help them better understand their own leadership strengths and through a mix of group activities, they learn to appreciate how those strengths help them interact with others.

“Understanding yourself as a leader correlates with your ability to lead others,” said Jasmine Frinks, a student leadership fellow with The BB&T Leadership Institute. “So, we really hit on (the importance of) self-awareness as a leader.”

BB&T has invested in leadership development programs for its own associates since 1971. BB&T first connected with Farr Associates as a client in the early eighties and acquired the world-class organization in 1994. The BB&T Leadership Institute was established to give organizations a leadership development partner to help create dynamic and effective leaders, increase employee retention and improve the bottom line. During this time, the vast majority of BB&T’s senior leaders have benefited greatly from their psychological approach to leadership development. The institute currently operates out of High Point, N.C. In 2016, it was rolled out to 11 schools, Brown said.

And the program continues to grow.

“This year, Jasmine and myself and our other teammates will visit 25 college and university campuses and certify more than 1,000 students,” Brown said. “While we wish we could work with every college and university, the program is really tailored so we are working with schools where leadership is a priority and leadership and development already exist in the campus culture.”

At this point, the Emerging Leadership Certification Program is open only to qualifying USC Upstate students. To be eligible, a student must be a business administration major or minor, have been accepted to the upper-division program, have an institutional GPA of 2.75 or higher, and must have received a faculty recommendation based on academic excellence, classroom participation and leadership potential, according to Sarah C. Butler, transfer advisor and student services coordinator at the George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics.

Butler said successful completion of the course can be a valuable asset on a graduate’s resume and LinkedIn profile, as well as on the USC Upstate Merit Page.

In her final semester at the University, Cromer is very close to that next chapter, and she said she feels more prepared for success thanks to the BB&T Leadership Institute program.

“It’s not really about you,” Cromer said. “You learn people skills and that teamwork is very important. Learning about the needs of others and the needs of any situation was good.”

Currently, plans call for the program to be offered at the Johnson College of Business and Economics during future spring semesters. There is no cost to the students; however, the program is available only to business administration majors and minors. For more information, contact Butler, the transfer advisor and student services coordinator for The George, via email at