students sitting at a presentation

About the Portfolio


The SPA Leadership Portfolio provides students with an opportunity to reflect on their curricular and co-curricular experiences in order to earn a deeper understanding of how to use their gifts to make the world a better place. During the course of the program, all students are invited to document and reflect on their growth as a leader in their own leadership portfolio.

The portfolio is fully integrated into the leadership studies curriculum. It involves a series of four levels where students incrementally build the interactive online portfolio to showcase the leadership knowledge and skills they learn in the program. At a minimum, students upload a resume and letter of introduction in SPA 361. In SPA 362, students upload a sample of their work. In SPA 391, students present information about their internship and other activities, including study abroad. Students may present their final portfolio in SPA 460, the program capstone course.

Three questions should animate the development of your personal SPA Leadership Portfolio:

(1) What are my gifts?
(2) How am I developing them? and
(3) how will I apply them to make the world a better place?

Here is a way to think about those questions.

A little while ago I was at a private jazz performance of about 30 people in Washington, DC, by Sofia Ribeiro, a woman from Oporto, Portugal. Her ability to sing was really quite sublime; she managed to emotionally touch everyone in the room with her moving interpretation of both Brazilian and Portuguese compositions. As she sang, I wondered when she first realized she had this gift, and who helped her develop it. I was one of the beneficiaries of her making the world a better place: her beautiful voice, and soulful renditions of the music, stays with me every day. Similarly, as you think about why you are at American University, what your major will be, why you are in the SPA leadership program, where you will intern, where you may study abroad, and other questions, please keep your thoughts focused on those three questions. Your passion to make the world a better place will help you respond to the third question, and the first two questions will help you prepare for the third. This is your personal SPA leadership portfolio, and so be sure to build it in a way that conveys who you are. You may also use your leadership portfolio as a virtual résumé, and you can take it with you after graduation to become more competitive in today’s job market.