Emerge, the new on campus freshman leadership program, kicked off the school year by presenting comedian Jeff Foxworthy on Sunday in the Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. Emerge hosted more than a thousand freshman and a variety of campus leaders.
“Emerge is to prepare Auburn students to be the next generation of leaders,” said Lady Cox, assistant vice president for student engagement.
Cox said "Auburn equals leadership" is the vision for Emerge at Auburn and that the program will provide students with practical experiences and valuable knowledge to make them world-class leaders.
“Here at Emerge we are taking on a new posture, a posture of service and leadership and innovation,” said Sydney Nicholas, President of Emerge, in her speech to the 1,022 new Emerge members. These 1,022 new members will be trained by 75 team leaders and assistant team leaders whose job is to make sure this first Emerge class is equipped with the leadership skills to make Auburn a better place and to represent the school in the best possible way when they go out into the workforce.
“I want Auburn to yield greater impacts on this state, this country and this world," Auburn President Steven Leath said as he opened the event. "And when you leave Auburn, you’re going to be better leaders, better employees and better citizens.”
Other speakers for the event included Natalie Mills, an Auburn graduate working with Southern Company, and Auburn baseball coach Butch Thompson. Mills spoke about the real-world applications of leadership ability and the benefits leadership holds in the workplace.
Thompson spoke about the ways leadership plays a role in other aspects of life like baseball.
“Not only do we have to look for ability and talent, but we look for people who encourage each other and help the people around them to be better. Those are true leaders,” Thompson said.
Jeff Foxworthy, comedian and game show host, spoke at the event and left the new members with advice on how to become a better leader. Foxworthy gave the audience an acronym to remember – R.E.D.N.E.C.K. Each letter stands for an important leadership principle. The acronym stands for relationships, excitement, drive, 'no' who you are, encourage, moral compass and kindness.
“Don’t forget where you come from," Foxworthy said. “Leadership is a lifelong pattern that starts today.”
One of the purposes of Emerge is to leave Auburn better than it was found.
“Do that, but take it one step further. Leave life better than you found it,” Foxworthy said.
Foxworthy took the opportunity to take a break from being interviewed and personally interviewed some of Auburn's own including SGA President Jaqueline Keck and SGA Vice President Justin Smith.
“Leadership is putting people over projects, it’s not about a product but about the relationships with the people involved,” Keck said in the on-stage interview.
“Being prepared for anything is the most valuable to me," Smith said. "If I am prepared, then the people I am leading can count on me."
The Emerge at Auburn program combines many separate interest groups that the once Freshman Leadership Program was comprised of. Combining all interests under one club, Emerge houses a thousand freshman students, its six executive members and 72 team leaders. Emerge uses its kickoff event to jumpstart its first year on campus.