Arcadia Magazine Summer 2023: Arcadia LIFT Program Gets Outward Bound

By Christopher Grosso | July 6, 2023

University Awarded $75K Grant for Student Leadership Development Across Lines of Difference

Arcadia students now have the chance to venture to nature and perhaps beyond their comfort zone following receipt of a two year grant of $75,000 to create a partnership with Philadelphia Outward Bound School (POBS). The partnership is part of a new University leadership program called Learning in Fearless Teams, or LIFT. POBS is a nonprofit experiential education organization that since 1992 has “delivered challenging outdoor learning programs that embrace Outward Bound’s mission of changing lives through challenge and discovery.” 

Participation in POBS means overcoming outdoor trials to grow in problem solving, teamwork, and leadership development. POBS states that, “By conquering their own challenges, participants discover their true potential and realize they are capable of more than they ever imagined.” The funding foundation wishes to remain anonymous but has a strong philanthropic advocate at Arcadia, which led to this support. 

Through this relationship, the foundation expressed an interest in seeing Arcadia student participation in POBS. Arcadia’s Office of Civic and Global Engagement was the best choice to oversee the program. Alison LaLond Wyant, EdD, executive director of Civic and Global Engagement, is always looking for ways to expand student access to opportunities outside of the classroom. “In this department, we want students to explore the off-campus world and to bring their own lived experiences to bear on their education at Arcadia.” 

Arcadia piloted LIFT April 14-16, when 10 students were transported to POBS in Philadelphia’s East Fairmount Park on the Strawberry Mansion Reservoir. Students experienced a combination of low and high ropes courses and canoeing on the reservoir.  “The crux of LIFT is to have students learn beyond Arcadia’s campus, in teams, and across lines of difference,” Scott Terry, Arcadia’s director of Global Engagement, said. “We know that where you learn and who you learn with is just as important as what you learn.” The 10 students piloting LIFT this spring were a mixture of Civic Scholars, First-Year Study Abroad Experience (FYSAE) students, and international students, full of, in Terry’s words “big thinkers and curiosity.” “The best part of LIFT was stepping out of my comfort zone and finishing the rope course, even though I was terrified,” Getlyne L. Jn-Baptiste ’26, who encourages future students to take advantage of LIFT, said. “The support I got from my classmates was phenomenal; their cheers boosted my confidence. Go in with an open mind and listen to understand, and you will be just fine.” 

The foundation that awarded the grant to Arcadia was also interested in students building relationships across lines of difference that would influence their development as leaders, which is what Arcadia seeks to provide to students. 

“Per the grant, LIFT this spring was still in the pilot phase,” Terry said. “For next academic year, we will leverage the grant funding to provide a fall and spring LIFT experience. START, our pre-orientation program that also includes off-campus learning in Glenside and Philadelphia, will serve an entry-point for experiential learning and as a primer for future LIFT participation.”   Referring to the leadership component, JnBaptiste notes how nobody can physically do it all. 

“You need to be able to trust that others are also capable of accomplishing tasks and that everything does not have to fall on your back. Being a leader sometimes means letting others handle things.”