LEAP Programming

Freshman Initiatives


Photo: An Elliott School student types on her laptop while in class

Two First Year Initiatives recently were implemented: the one-credit course First Year Experience (IAFF 1001) and the First Year Retreat.

First Year Experience

Course on Leadership and Career Skills

The one-credit course (IAFF 1001) aims to increase students’ self-awareness of their strengths and values, while allowing them to explore different career paths, gain a better understanding of ethical leadership, and develop a bigger picture of their future academic and professional paths through workshop, assignments and peer mentoring.

Our workshops are dedicated to career exploration and research, resume and cover letter composition, and offering tips on networking and presenting oneself during a professional interview.

Course assignments include attending the first year retreat, creating a professional portfolio, sketching out a four-year academic/professional plan at GW, and writing a reflection paper on ethical leadership.

Peer mentoring helps connect new incoming students with older, more experienced peer mentors who provide them with guidance and support.

Inaugural First Year Retreat 


Photo: Students pose and smile with photobooth props

Approximately 600 students participated in the Elliott School’s inaugural retreat for incoming students.

The Elliott School’s first, Inaugural First Year Retreat took place in Fall 2018 and welcomed nearly 600 incoming students for a day rich in inspiration, fun, and instructive shared experiences.

After a warm welcome from Dean Brigety, students discussed Mango Elephants in the Sun with author Susana Herrera, a returned Peace Corps Volunteer who tells her story of two years in Cameroon.

Students also explored the campus through a scavenger hunt and ended the evening with a pizza party. 

Read more about the student retreat at GW Today.

Professional Skills Courses

With the ongoing support of its Advisory Committee group, the Leadership, Ethics, and Practice Initiative is focused on revising Professional Skills Courses for graduate students.

The goal is to ensure that future course offerings reflect the needs of the workplace and skills that will help graduates succeed in their future careers.

Explore the Courses

LEAP Student Advisory Council

The LEAP Student Advisory Council held its inaugural meeting on July 24, 2020. LEAP Director Chris Kojm emphasized the importance of moving from a top-down to a bottom-up model, with students themselves taking on leadership roles. The 30 student participants in the Council – representing Elliott School undergraduate and graduate students, including mid-career students and recent alumni – put forward ideas on speakers and programs, with a strong emphasis on diversity and inclusion of a wide range of foreign affairs professionals. The Council looks forward to holding monthly meetings.