Dr. Martinella Dryburgh
Assistant Professor of Leadership; Director of the Posey Leadership Institute
The purpose of CityLab was for students to develop leadership skills by becoming engaged in the Sherman community beyond the Austin College campus through research into an arts and culture project. We had several unique experiences meeting with and talking to arts and culture champions in Sherman, Denison, Ft. Worth, Dallas, and the Texas Commission on the Arts in Austin. We also got access to the unique experience of touring 903 Brewers and learning their story.
Jan Term allowed me and Cary Wacker to go very in depth into the arts and culture community in Sherman. The students really enjoyed learning about what makes Sherman special and how they can be a part of the community beyond the borders of Austin College.
Seeing the students at 903 Brewers having a light bulb moment was exciting. As they talked with Brewmaster Jeremy they got to see how one person’s passion translates to good for many people in the community. For example, 903 Brewers isn’t just about beer; it’s about bringing lots of local businesses together so they all enjoy success. This includes the food trucks, the musicians, and all the other people who will benefit when they open their second location. It was great to see the students be so moved by his passion and his story on making the community better.
I think they got an idea of how they can develop their leadership skills and make a difference in their communities through arts and culture activities. Here are some of the quotes that I got from the students regarding what they got out of the class:
“This JanTerm Course is unlike any course I have taken. The learning is more experiential and almost the antithesis of purely academic learning. It made me realize that in the future I want to participate in non-profits by being a board member/donor or skilled volunteer. It also helped me to understand how the city is connected, which could be a useful skill for business ventures. The professional skills which I have further developed will translate into any field which I decide to enter after college.”
“As a science-oriented student, I have never explored the importance of arts in community development. After taking this course, however, I have a huge appreciation for community arts and culture, which is a course experience that would likely not have happened for me in a regular fall or spring semester. Being given a project in an unrelated field to my studies tested my leadership skills and comfort, as well as providing me with a strong foundation for immersion and community appreciation. I am very interested in continuing my involvement in the arts scene, mostly as an observer and not as an artist. I would love to take part in more artistic and cultural events in the city I live in, especially once I am done with college and graduate school.”
“This Jan Term allowed me to explore arts through a governmental standpoint. Being on the pre-med track, I would not have been able to engage in the arts in such a way that this class has provided me. It is a very unique experience that I am glad to have. I have been a musician for multiple years and even play here in both the chamber and symphony. I have loved the other arts forms for I have participated in them throughout my life time. This Jan Term helped me connect all of those art forms and highlight their importance through a city lens. This Jan Term has taught me valuable skills I can apply in my academics; however, my revived passion towards the arts will push me to be an active participant to broaden Sherman’s culture. I would love to continue this dynamic as an intern or volunteer in an organization because I do not want that love to be lost. I chose the correct career path in my opinion but being an active member in the arts will always be available.”
“The way I approach problems and my future interests have been transformed through my JanTerm learning. It was the first time I functioned with a group–rather than as a single individual–to achieve a goal, especially one so momentous. I hope I will be in such a setting again sometime in my life. Moreover, it has made me want to sign up for a leadership course offered by the Posey Leadership Institute and get involved in the opportunities there, plus evaluate the relationship between Austin College and the Pottsboro Library. The creative placemaking we backed in Sherman can be paralleled in a nearby town by means of establishing a formal partnership capable of introducing Austin College kids to new volunteer and work openings that would improve the quality of life in Pottsboro. My personal trajectory and–ideally–that of my hometown have been touched by my JanTerm. Citylab: Leadership on Location enhanced my mindset and provided an unforgettable experience. I was lucky to be a part of it and would recommend it to all of my friends.”