Dale Carnegie 2015A tradition continued on Tuesday evening, April 7, when four students and one staff member in The School of Hospitality Business graduated from the 12-week Dale Carnegie Course in a ceremony at the Crowne Plaza Lansing that included several other members of the community. For several years, The School has offered a Dale Carnegie “short course” in the Fall to select School students, as well as limited enrollment in the full course each semester.

This winter, Jeff Yingling, assistant director of Undergraduate Academic Programs, along with student leaders Ciara Baker (BA ’16), Jaclyn Bell (BA ’15), Monica Blaze (BA ’16), and Kristina Keil (BA ’16) enrolled in the course with the assistance of a special endowment in The School.

The endowment, established in honor of former Director of The School and Dale Carnegie graduate Dr. Ron Cichy (BA ’72, MBA ’77), aims to provide student leaders with the opportunity to study the time-honored Dale Carnegie practices that build confidence, improve people skills, hone communication skills, develop leadership, and reduce stress. Each young woman is a member of the Executive Board of The School’s 2015 Destination Auction: Behind the Masque, an annual event requiring an entire year of planning, hundreds of volunteers, and netting well over $100,000 for School programs and two local charities. Each one is active in The School’s various industry-related clubs, as well.

Dale Carnegie Master Instructor Mark Eddy welcomed the graduates and their guests, including Dr. Cichy and Director of Academic Programs James Rainey, as well as Jeff Yingling’s wife Charla and two young daughters, Kayla and Zoe. The ceremony included short speeches by the graduates and words from Mr. Eddy that honored each one.

Of the Dale Carnegie opportunity, Jeff said, “My daughters like to play Minecraft. It is a video game which allows players to build their own world. It has sold more than 50 million copies and was recently bought by Microsoft for $2.5 billion. Why is it so popular? I learned from my daughters that you can invite others into your world and others can invite you into theirs. Kayla and Zoe were excited about what they could teach others but they were even more excited about what they could learn. I committed to applying two key Dale Carnegie principles in week one of the class. I decided upon Principle #4 – become genuinely interested in other people; and Principle #7 – be a good listener and encourage other to talk about themselves. I was pleasantly surprised by the end of the course that the result was that others started to invite me into their world.”

Ciara, the director of the Live Auction, confesses that the Dale Carnegie course did not “remake” her or even give her boundless self-confidence or human relations skills. She says, “But listening to my classmates stories and giving small talks of my own have given me a great start. I know that there is a benefit in every experience you share with others. I am living more intentionally and I am more conscious of the principles that Dale Carnegie developed. I will continue to work on myself for the rest of my life, like every other human being.”

The CFO of Destination Auction, Jaclyn notes that even before the course she wasn’t shy in front of a crowd, and didn’t have trouble communicating. However, she says, “I quickly learned that there are always going to be ways to improve my communication skills and I definitely had a lot of room to grow.” In fact, “I was comfortable talking to people, and I was pretty outgoing. But I learned that in order for communication to be effective, you have to both talk AND listen. And this is where I have seen my biggest improvement.” Though she doesn’t struggle with handling stress, she said the course helped her learn about other people’s situations and how “I can help others reduce or eliminate stress and how I can sympathize more.”

Jacklyn appreciated getting out of her comfort zone, as well as “communicating with a variety of people of different ages, careers, backgrounds, and values.” And, she says, it was a “great confidence boost” to be treated like an adult in the course, not a college student. “It was a great way to end my college career!”

Monica is director of Solicitations for Destination Auction, and admits that “I can’t say that I am walking away with a new skill.” Being in leadership roles through high school and college, “I had already come up with sustainable coping mechanisms and helpful leadership tactics.” But she also says that even without an “AHA” moment in the course, “I truly believe I am leaving the class a better leader. I will continue to implement what I know and what was reiterated in the course. In fact, I have been striving to implement at least one tactic each day.” For her, the course was a good experience to make friends with her fellow Auction Executive Board members, learn about other peoples’ walks of life, and to be more conscious of how often she used her leadership skills.

Kristina was prepared, she said, to learn about leadership and perhaps gain better public speaking skills when she enrolled in the Dale Carnegie Course. But, she says, “After being pushed mentally and receiving wonderful support from my classmates, I blossomed.” The director of Silent Auction, Kris confesses that sometimes she didn’t agree with a teaching method or thought that certain activities went against her “personal brand.” But without all of it, “I wouldn’t have learned my limits and would be limited. I learned more about who I am and just what my ‘personal brand’ is. A big thank you to my classmates and graduate assistants for giving me the push and support I needed in order to discover what I believe in. I have also learned to think on my feet, be more positive, and best of all, become more confident. The Dale Carnegie Course gives you back what you put in to it.”

Mark Eddy was positive about each of The School’s graduates, and asked Dr. Cichy to say a little bit about each one of them and his or her journey.

“I have worked closely with each of our School’s Dale Carnegie graduates,” says Dr. Cichy. The practices fit into each life differently and affect us all in sometimes subtle, sometimes overt ways. I know that Jeff in his work environment and the students in their leadership roles on campus and at work can come back to the Dale Carnegie principles as often as they need in order to be more effective.”

Dean Rainey added this observation: “The Dale Carnegie Course gives our graduates a distinctive advantage at the start of their careers. They are emerging as leaders in part because of the DCC.”