Leading with grace

| Student Life

Leadership isn’t industry specific. It’s a respectable position, a character trait, and a source of guidance that can ultimately define an organization’s culture and effectiveness.

Leadership is an important concept for 27-year-old Briana Christian. The Nashville native has an extensive background in dance and the arts and a strong passion for making a difference. But with an undergraduate degree in dance performance from Belhaven University in Jackson, Miss., Christian found it difficult to translate her bachelor’s degree into the workplace. After spending several years in New York as a freelance dancer, she wanted a career that had more stability. She wanted a future that could move beyond entry-level administrative roles, she said, but wasn’t sure how to move forward.

Christian currently works in higher education within admissions and enrollment at Vanderbilt University, an industry she’s grown to love, she said. Additionally, she serves as a dance teacher at Rejoice School of Ballet, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide dance lessons for kids, no matter their ability to pay.

“I love the arts, and I love nonprofits. I feel like I have a great gift for organization, and it seemed like a great season in my life to go back to school,” Christian said about her decision last year to pursue her master’s degree.

While she wasn’t sure of the details of her ultimate career goals, Christian found a real niche for helping and leading others. After researching her options, she settled on Trevecca and the Master of Organizational Leadership program.  

Christian believes that leadership is closely tied to faith. She wanted a graduate program that would connect her faith and studies, and also promote development on a professional and personal level.

“Trevecca just rose above the rest in terms of affordability, its accessibility, and also the spirit. When I first came to visit the campus, I just felt the spirit of love, and people just really practiced what they preach,” Christian said. “They teach great values, but they also live them out.”

The Master of Organizational Leadership (MOL) program is a fully-online degree program at Trevecca, and has broad cross-industry relevance, said Tom Middendorf, MOL program director. Middendorf said the MOL is fitted for anyone interested or currently serving in a supervisory role. It’s a degree that not only provides opportunities for students to develop as leaders, but also self-discovery.

In a world where the workforce is so complex and multi-generational, Middendorf said, it’s key in any organization to have strong leaders who can create, sustain, and change the company’s culture for the betterment of the organization.

“This is a consistent theme as we talk with CEOs from all types of organizations, from the Nashville Symphony, to a nonprofit like The Salvation Army, to a for-profit like Skanska. Every organization, no matter the industry or field, has a distinct culture,” Middendorf said. “The MOL is a concerted effort to educate our students on their ability to positively impact the people who define our organizational cultures. Some of the basic leadership principles that are key to running a fortune 500 company are the same principles that make for a successful home life.”

Christian, who is half way finished with the program, said the MOL is not only preparing her for a better future, but also allowing her to make changes in her current position.

She also stressed that the online format experience is better than she could have imagined, allowing room for expression, networking, and mentorships.

“Taking classes online is not what I thought it would be—in a good way. I think there was a stigma in my mind of what an online program looks like and even the level of learners. That’s completely not the case. A lot of my cohort members have extremely impressive resumes,” Christian said. “To see the work my classmates put out in our discussions really inspires me, and it helps me in my own job, as well. I’m able to weave real life into my studies, which makes it so much more interesting.”

For more information on the Master of Organizational Leadership, call 844-TNU-GRAD or visit our website. Classes start soon!