Students Regula and Tran Gain Great Leadership Skills
March 20, 2017
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.-- Penn State chemical engineering doctoral candidate Mike Regula and senior Quoc Tran were both fortunate to know great leaders at a very young age. These life experiences have catapulted both young men into leadership roles in the Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Association (ChE GSA) and Penn State’s student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineering (AIChE).
Regula serves as the current GSA president and has been doing so for the last three years while Tran has been leading AIChE for the last two semesters. Both are very proud and passionate about being able to assist other students in leadership skills, professional development and social events.
“If you are able to demonstrate through a task; you’ll motivate others,” said Tran. “You have to trust that the AIChE officers will be able to execute what you’re looking to complete.”
Tran and Regula gave specific examples of their leadership styles that were very similar to the transformational leader approach. Leadership expert James McGregor Burns introduced the concept of transformational leadership in his 1978 book, Leadership. He defined transformational leadership as a process where "leaders and their followers raise one another to higher levels of morality and motivation."
Burns continued to explore transformational leadership and defined traits through his 1985 book, Leadership and Performance Beyond Expectations, this kind of leader:
- Is a model of integrity and fairness.
- Sets clear goals.
- Provides support and recognition.
When asked if leaders are born or made, both Regula and Tran paused to think about it.
Regula’s parents both have significant leadership roles in the Scranton area and as a result he experienced first-hand what the expectations and roles of a great leader embody.
“I do believe that anyone can become a leader,” replied Regula. “You are born with some inherent skills.”
Tran mentioned his aunt who works over 12hours a day as a pharmacist and entrepreneur.
“She tackles being a leader by building relationships, working hard and having very honorable work ethics.” He admires her the most.
Regula’s role as president of the ChE GSA is to organize both professional and social events for graduate students which includes organizing from start to finish the annual Penn State Chemical Engineering Graduate Research Symposium. ChE GSA is also heavily involved with graduate open houses where members serve as ambassadors to the visiting prospective graduate students and really extend a hand wherever it’s needed. On the social side, Regula said the club co-hosts AIChE/ChE GSA tailgates, chili cook-offs and Sunset Park picnics.
Tran talked about all of the leadership opportunities that are available if students join the AIChE. Student club members are immediately able to choose and take on these leadership roles such as logistics, mentoring and professional development chairs. The roles offer students invaluable project management skills for numerous future careers.
AIChE also offers professional development. Tran mentioned the club is offering a series of C.E.N.T.E.R. workshops provided by author and Chemical Engineering Professor Darrell Velegol. C.E.N.T.E.R. is a system of six practices that promotes work/life balance and the acronym stands for Character, Entrepreneurship, owNership, Tenacity, Excellence, Relationship. These workshops include three talks that typically span over three weeks.
Regula and Tran continue to search for new leadership and professional development opportunities for their organizations. Regula commented on what an amazing job AIChE does of including companies like Chevron, ExxonMobil, Merck & Co. and Dow Chemical Company in student mentoring, panel talks and student recruitment efforts. In the future, Regula would like the two clubs to collaborate on matching corporate alumni with their efforts. Tran was in agreement since both the ChE GSA and AIChE have similar missions.