Name: Velda Coleman
Title: Courtroom Services Team Leader
Court: Illinois Northern Bankruptcy Court
MSU Program: Judicial Administration Non‐Credit Certificate
Graduation Date: August 2015, Recognized at the 2015 NCBC Conference in St. Louis, MO
How has your participation in the MSU program impacted your career?
My participation in the MSU program offered me different perspectives of the Courts in general, and my role as a team leader, specifically. I now have the additional resources of both literature and people to reference for various concepts and issues which may arise. This has assisted in my growth as a leader.
What other benefits has the program brought into your life?
One benefit is the new appreciation of "certificate" programs. I had to be just as diligent to earn this certificate as I was when studying for my Master's degree. I now encourage others to participate in MSU and FCLP, as there are personal and professional benefits in the long run.
What was the time commitment for your program? How did you integrate that into your lifestyle?
Because of my schedule, I completed the program over a period of several years and made efforts to incorporate theories and concepts in my current position. This helped me to absorb the materials offered in class.
What format (or formats) did you use to complete your program? What did you like best about each one?
Classes were offered at NCBC, and eventually online with instructor or online self-study. I took advantage of each of the mediums, depending on timing. When I was able to attend NCBC, I attended the classes offered during the conference. The advantage and disadvantage of conference classes were:
- Advantage: face-to-face with the instructor and classmates
- Disadvantage: could not participate in other seminars at NCBC
- Advantage: perspectives, comments and feedback from instructor and classmates; access any time of day during the two to three week class time; structured syllabus
- Disadvantage: as with any electronic communication we have to be mindful of tone, which is difficult to gauge at time
- Advantage: work on my own time at my own pace
- Disadvantage: I sometimes procrastinated and did not have someone right there to give me a boost
This is a difficult question. The only thing I can say is "do you." By that I mean what worked for me, my personality and my way of learning is for me and may not be feasible for someone else. Set your own goals and if adjustments are needed, then adjust. It's not a race. It's about you, for you. Use what you learn when appropriate, and then learn some more as concepts and theories change as well as the culture of your workplace. You must have the flexibility to bend and blend so that it works for you.
Are there any last thoughts or maybe a piece of advice you'd like to share with us?
When deciding on a final project, try to find something you are passionate about. Whether it's something you believe needs to be changed in the workplace or something you desire to learn more about personally. Passion makes the research and writing easier as it is from the heart. After graduating from the program, I re-read my paper, “The Impact of Positive Power on Employee Performance.” During a team meeting in early 2016, I presented my long term (3 to 5 years) leader's goal: to create a team environment reflective of the 3 c's - confidence, clarity, and collaboration. I stayed focused on this and during subsequent meetings I asked individual team members to present their perspective and/or ideas on how to achieve one of these. Because of this, I honestly believe we are growing as a team. We even won two contests in late 2016 which required teamwork. Prior to that, I can't tell you when or if we ever won anything as a team.
Do you have any ideas for getting the word out about the MSU JA Program?
I believe that when these accomplishments are also recognized at the local level (i.e. announced at your Court's town meeting or recognition ceremony) it inspires at least one more person to participate on some level, knowing that it can be achieved.