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How I discovered my Passion – Leadershape Institute 2013 (and my love for bread pudding)

By Erika Gaffney, Major: MIS, Graduation: May 2014

From January 6 to 11, the McCombs Office of Student Life organized the annual Leadershape® Institute. The purpose of the LeaderShape® Institute is to provide a breakthrough in the leadership capacity of participants and facilitators. In this blog, Erika Gaffney shares her experiences from this intense and highly interactive leadership program.

Erika with her LeaderShape Family

Can you imagine spending six days in one place with 60 other people that you have never met? Can you imagine leaving at the end of day six, wishing you could spend another two weeks with the same 60 people, who are no longer strangers?

There is no way to describe the experience I had at LeaderShape that will do it any justice. There isn’t anything that I would trade for my time at this retreat. In that short amount of time, I forgot about the world outside of Newcombe Tennis Ranch.

I learned so much about who I am as a leader and even more about who I am as a person, like I am ten times more energetic than other people. I became friends with the entirety of the sixty students I attended with. I played an insane amount of group games that I had never heard of (and, trust me, by the end, I was dying to play more). And, without giving too much away, I challenged myself to do things I never thought I could do.

LeaderShape isn’t just a building experience. It didn’t just take who I already was and made me into a better leader. It also helped me discover parts of myself that I didn’t know existed and that I am happy to claim as being part of who I am. For instance, I have a passion for underprivileged kids that goes deeper than I realized. Oh, and I apparently love bread pudding.

When applying for LeaderShape, one question on the application was to include a vision for the future to make the world a better place. My vision was one in which underprivileged children would have the knowledge to apply and go to college. Going into LeaderShape, I was unsure what to do with my new and underdeveloped aspiration. Through an intensive and gratifying week I polished my vision for the future and developed goals to help bring it to life.

The week began with a focus on building a community. We built our LeaderShape community by being introduced to what we called the Learning Community (all of us as a big group) and forming our Family Clusters (a smaller setting with nine students). The Family Clusters became an important part to the experience and was a safe place to grow as a person and make mistakes. As the week progressed, we discussed leadership being a group effort, looking beyond what is to see what can be, bringing our visions to reality, leading with integrity, and staying in action after the week’s end.

At one point during the retreat we all sat down to further develop our visions. I realized then that the future I wanted wasn’t necessarily all kids going to college, rather all kids knowing that they have the opportunity to break the mold and get a higher education. Further on in the week, we each came up attainable goals having to do with our unique visions. I am now in the process of reaching one of my goals by volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas.

The best part of LeaderShape was what I walked away with. I had new goals  for the future, an actual plan to start helping underprivileged kids, and a support system larger than I had ever experienced.

Nobody can take away what I learned and how I changed through this experience. Nobody can take away the bond I share with each and every person I met that week.

Can you imagine it now?

Find out more about the Leadershape® Institute and how to get involved.


9/6: Alpha Kappa Psi presents “Targeting the Company of Your Dreams – A Workshop by Deloitte”

Students of All Majors:

Please come out and join Deloitte in their resume workshop! Details below. RSVP at



Training Team Post: Find Circular References in Excel

Generally, if you have a circular reference (when a formula or function references itself), you’ll get an error message warning you about it. But the message doesn’t tell you where your circular reference is. And if you click Cancel on the message, it leaves the circular reference in the spreadsheet. So the question becomes, how do you find a circular reference in Excel? Learn how…

Use the Notes Feature in Outlook

Many of us find that our desks and offices are covered in sticky notes. Short notes like this are a great opportunity for the Notes feature in Outlook. It is often overlooked, but very useful. It allows you to easily access bits of information you don’t want to write on a sticky note or save to a Word doc. Learn more…

Training Team Post: Line Numbering in Microsoft Word

When you’re editing a document or having a document edited by someone else, it’s often useful to know the number of the line of text on the page. For example, if a co-worker says you have a typo in the third line of your doc, that’s easy to find. But if they say you have a typo on the twenty-third line of your document, you’re stuck counting down twenty-three lines with a pretty good chance (at least if you’re me) that you’ll miscount. That’s where line numbering in Word comes into play. Learn more…

Trainging Team Post: The F8 Shortcut in Excel

More than once, I’ve run into someone for whom Excel seemed to be going haywire. Any time they used the arrow keys in Excel, cells would be selected. Any time they clicked on a worksheet with the mouse, all the cells between the active cell and the cell they clicked on would be selected. Learn about the keyboard shortcut that turns this on and off.

Change Worksheet Tab Size in Excel

Sometimes I feel like the text on the worksheet tabs at the bottom of Excel is on the small side. I picked up a great tip from that tells you how you can increase the size of these tabs by increasing the size of your side and bottom scrollbars. Learn more…

Open Programs Faster By Creating Your Own Windows Shortcuts

Which Windows programs do you use day in and day out?  Most of us use the same three to five programs every single day.  If you are in the same situation, you can save time by creating keyboard shortcuts to open them. Learn more…

7/11-7/14: Social Justice Training Institute

SJTI: The Student Experience

July 11-14, 2012

The University of San Francisco

The Social Justice Training Institute will provide an intensive developmental opportunity for students to examine the complex dynamics of oppression and to develop strategies to foster positive change on their campuses and in their communities.

Students who attend the institute will be given the opportunity to explore the identities that make up who they are and better understand the extent to which these identities impact all they do. Through facilitated activities and exercises along with small group dialogue, participants will engage in conversations that will challenge and support them in their journey toward understanding how they can each – individually – impact our global community.

Visit the institute’s web site for more information. If you wish to attend, please make sure to apply online by no later than Monday, April 23, 2012.

Questions? Please contact Brian Arao at 415.422.6824 or [email protected].

Change the Default Save Location for a File

You’ve probably noticed that Microsoft Office automatically saves your files to your Documents folder/library (unless you’ve already changed this). Changing the file location every time you save a file can get annoying. Fortunately, you can change the default file location for files saved in each program. Learn more…

3/7: GBSA’s MBA & MPA Admissions Night

Event: GBSA’s MBA & MPA Admissions Night
When: Wednesday, March 7 at 6:00PM
Where: UTC 3.122

The GLBTQA Business Student Association invites all students interested in pursuing a graduate business degree to our first MBA & MPA Admissions Night. Joining us will be The Princeton Review covering GMAT preparation, PwC discussing degree paths within companies and representatives from both MBA and MPA admissions.

Open to all majors and identities.

Free food as always!

RSVP on Facebook

RSS Feeds in Outlook – The Hidden Mailbox Hog

In Outlook there’s an often overlooked folder that can keep a mailbox at the brink of overload – the RSS Feeds folder. Learn how to keep it from taking over your mailbox…

Texas Union Leadership Weekend Applications Now Available

Applications are now available for the Texas Union Leadership Weekend!

Texas Union Leadership Weekend (TULW) is a free retreat open to first- and second-year students (all expenses are covered).  33 students will be selected to attend the retreat, which will be held at the John Newcombe Tennis Ranch in New Braunfels, Texas.  The retreat will facilitate learning through activities, discussion, and a ropes course. Students applying are not required to have any past leadership experience on campus, but students interested in pursuing future involvement are strongly encouraged to apply.

TULW is a weekend leadership retreat hosted by the University Unions Student Events Center.  Facilitated by a team of students with considerable leadership experience at UT Austin, the purpose of TULW is to provide students with opportunities to learn and practice elements of leadership, network with peers, and build a lasting community of student leaders who are passionate about future involvement at UT. The retreat will take place the weekend of February 10-12, 2012; attendees must be available from 5:00pm on February 10th until 2:00pm February 12th.

To download an application, visit

Applications are due to the Student Events Center (UNB 4.312) no later than 5:00 PM on January 31st.  Please direct all questions to Andrew Nash ([email protected]).  We look forward to receiving your application!

Show in Groups in Microsoft Outlook

Sometimes on Friday, you really need to find that email someone sent you on Wednesday. But if you have a lot of email, scanning the date received column can be blinding. One day runs into another. The solution? Show in Groups. Learn more…

12/19: AXA Institute

Applications are now out for the 2012 AXA Institute!


AXA Institute is a unique opportunity for college students interested in a career in sales, investments or as an entrepreneur to learn from industry leaders.  Over the course of a two day, interactive learning experience, participants will get a behind the scenes look at financial services and learn what it takes to experience success in the industry.  The program is available to a limited number of participants that qualify based on an interview with AXA Advisors.


Date: December 19, 2011 at 9:00 AM to December 20, 2011 at 1:30 PM

Location: AXA Advisors, LCC Dallas office

Lunch and Dinner will be provided on 12/19. Breakfast is provided at hotel for 12/20 and lunch will be provided. Business attire is mandatory.


  • Demonstrated strong leadership skills
  • Strong interest for academic success
  • Extracurricular/Community Involvement
  • Phone Interview with AXA Advisors

To Apply

Please send your resume to [email protected]. The deadline is December 4, 2011.


Nov. 23 – Apply to Attend the World Youth Leaders Forum in Hong Kong

Hong Kong

  • What: The 2012 World Youth Leaders Forum will be held in Hong Kong from July 11-13, 2012. The theme of the forum is “Towards a World Without Poverty & Inequity” to encourage young leaders across the globe to share their creative ideas and solutions on how to address these issues.
  • Who can attend: Two BBA students will be selected and nominated to attend the Forum to be held in Hong Kong in July 2012.
  • How to apply: The McCombs School of Business, BBA International Programs office will be accepting applications through November 23rd at 5 p.m. from interested BBA students. Of these applicants, two undergraduate students will be selected and nominated to participate in the Forum. Interested students should email their resume, a letter of interest and two letters of recommendation by November 23rd to [email protected].
  • Cost to attend: The two selected and nominated students will be provided with free accommodations and meals during the Forum, as well as a subsidy for their international airfare and transportation. Please note: Any additional trip, transportation and meal costs not covered by the host, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, must be covered by the student.
  • Criteria for nomination: 1) Outstanding academic performance with vision and leadership potential; 2) Interest in global and local issues, and eager to consider solutions; 3) Respectful and appreciative of others’ values and beliefs; and 4) Sophomore, Junior or Senior standing. Selected nominees will have to submit an abstract for a paper presentation or poster to submit during the forum. Abstracts will be due December 31, 2011.
  • For more information: To learn more about the World Youth Leaders Forum, click here.
  • Last year’s attendees: Last summer, seniors Eva Agoulnik and Stephanie Luu represented the McCombs School of Business at the World Youth Leaders Forum. Eva regards the three days she spent at the forum as “the most intellectually stimulating experience of [her] life.” For the full story, click here.

Training Team Webinars

Here on the Training Team we’re increasing our online offerings by doing webinars. Over the last two weeks, we did an Intro to Excel Formulas and Functions webinar and an Excel Pivot Tables webinar. In future semesters these webinars will be offered to all students. Webinars will be recorded and posted online so they can be watched at any time.

If you’d like to watch either of our past webinars, click on the links below.

Intro to Excel Formulas and Functions webinar

Excel Pivot Tables webinar

Tip: Quickly Generate Text in Microsoft Word

Maybe you’re looking to test out some formatting, maybe your boss is walking by and you want to look busy, maybe it’s something else, but sometimes you just need some text on the page in a hurry. A couple of tricks in Microsoft Word can help you out.

Read the rest of this entry »


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