UMB to Launch SOP-Led Student Chapter of Toastmasters International

New student group will be the first venture to receive support from UMB’s Center for Interprofessional Education. Kick-off meeting on January 28.

UMB to Launch SOP-Led Student Chapter of Toastmasters International

By Malissa Carroll
January 16, 2014

Heather Boyce, a graduate student in the Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) Graduate Program at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, and Nathan Darling, a third-year student pharmacist in the School’s Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program, have partnered to establish a student chapter of Toastmasters International at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). The first student organization to receive funding from UMB’s Center for Interprofessional Education, the group will host its inaugural meeting on Jan. 28 at 6:00 p.m. in the Southern Management Corporation Campus Center, Elm Ballroom 210.

The meeting is open to all students from the University’s six professional schools and graduate school.

“At the core of team-based care is the ability to effectively communicate with all members of the health care team,” says Jane Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean and professor of the University of Maryland School of Nursing and director of the Center for Interprofessional Education. “The leadership of the Center for Interprofessional Education is pleased that students and faculty at the School of Pharmacy have taken the lead on forming a University-wide chapter of Toastmasters International and will be engaging students from the Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Law, and Social Work in the formation of the chapter.”

Before connecting through a faculty member, Darling and Boyce spent months separately searching for programs designed to improve students’ communication skills. Both had read about Toastmasters International, a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a series of “learn-by-doing” workshops, and were interested in the potential benefits that it could offer students not only at the School of Pharmacy, but across the University.

“By establishing a student chapter of Toastmasters International at UMB, my hope was to bring students from the graduate and six professional schools together to help them get on the same path to building excellent leadership and communication skills,” says Darling. “The organization will serve the entire University, not only by helping its students evolve into strong communicators and leaders, but also by building the University’s reputation for producing students with these highly sought after qualities.”

Boyce also heard first-hand about the program’s success. “One of my peers who participates in a Toastmasters Club has personally witnessed people, particularly those who do not speak English as a first language, blossom as a result of their involvement in the group. Some of those individuals even went on to assume leadership roles within the organization,” she says.

With an inaugural meeting scheduled for Jan. 28, the student chapter of Toastmasters International at UMB will join Toasted by Proxy, another Toastmasters Club at the Universities at Shady Grove, which is home to several UMB several academic programs, in helping students achieve their individual communication and leadership goals.

“After talking with other students, I have realized that fear of public speaking is a common theme across the University,” says Boyce. “Starting a student chapter of Toastmasters International is really about students from all disciplines coming together, recognizing that we share this fear, and committing ourselves to work together to overcome it. I believe it will be very easy for us to overcome this fear in the supportive environment created by a Toastmasters Club.”

Richard Dalby, PhD, associate dean for academic affairs, and Andrew Coop, PhD, professor and chair of PSC, will serve as advisors for UMB’s student chapter of Toastmasters International.

“The School of Pharmacy is grateful to the Center for Interprofessional Education for its support in establishing the new student chapter of Toastmasters International,” says Dalby. “The launch of this new student organization represents the culmination of Heather and Nathan’s unprecedented effort to bring together students to develop skills that will serve them not only as students, but as future professionals in their respective fields.”

Each new member who joins the organization will receive a welcome package, complete with Toastmasters’ Competent Communication and Competent Leadership manuals. “New members can decide whether to pursue the lessons outlined in the Competent Communication manual alone, or combine them with the lessons outlined in the Competent Leadership manual. We want all members to have the opportunity to develop those skills that are most important to them as individuals,” adds Boyce.

Individuals interested in joining the new student chapter of Toastmasters International should attend the group’s kick-off meeting on Jan. 28, or contact Heather Boyce at hboyce@umaryland.edu or Nathan Darling at nathan.darling@umaryland.edu for more information.

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