Two programs tap student leadership potential

group of students looking at a computer

Students can learn new leadership skills through the Catalyst and IGNITE programs.

Looking to boost your leadership skills?

Campus Programs and Student Leadership Development and Volunteer Services are partnering to present IGNITE and Catalyst, programs that foster skills not taught in the classroom.

“For both Catalyst and IGNITE, I get really excited because everyone has leadership potential — even people who think they don’t,” said Alea Thompson, graduate assistant at Student Leadership Development.

Junior Alvin Stanley has participated in both programs.

“It’s beneficial, especially for freshmen and sophomores,” said Stanley, a double major in criminology, law and justice and mathematics and computer science. “I’m kind of shy. IGNITE and Catalyst broke me out of that shell.”

The semester-long IGNITE Leadership Experience is open to all undergrads with an expected graduation date of 2017 or later. Participants must attend nine sessions from 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays from Sept. 29 through Nov. 24. Applications are due Sept. 14 at

Learn more about the program at information sessions from 11 a.m. to noon today in the White Oak Room, Student Center East, or 3 to 4 p.m. Thursday in Room 1-470 Daley Library.

Stanley said the program helped him become a better public speaker.

“When I started the program, I wasn’t part of any organizations on campus,” he said. “Now I’m part of two: the Criminal Justice Society and Delta Psi Alpha multicultural coed fraternity.”

Catalyst, held 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 27, encourages participants to take part in discussions of possibility, personal integrity and leadership. All IGNITE participants must also attend Catalyst.

“It’s a good way to kick-start your involvement at UIC,” Stanley said. “If you plan on joining organizations, it will teach you skills that you can use within the organization and if you do happen to gain a leadership position in one of them, you’re ready for it.”

Space for the program is limited. Applications are due Sept. 17 at

“You need to know what your strengths are — and how you can then create a direct action plan to meet your goals,” Thompson said.

The benefits of programs include better communication skills, opportunity for collaborative work and an outline for future plans, Thompson said.

“For Catalyst,” Thompson laughed, “they also get two free meals.”

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