How to Be an Effective Leader: An Interview with Courtney Camden, MA in Leadership Studies

Published on: July 9, 2020

Great leaders are in high demand in every field — but what does it take to become a great leader? 

In today’s world, choosing to study leadership can prepare you to tackle difficult challenges and guide others, no matter what path your career takes. The benefits of studying leadership extend across disciplines and can change the way you see yourself and others.

Earning a masters degree in leadership studies can set you up to be a strong and effective leader by [Read more] introducing you to different leadership theories and styles, improving your skills as a leader, and providing you with a better understanding of your unique strengths.

Meet Courtney Camden, MA in Leadership Studies

Courtney Camden recently graduated from SOLES with her MA in Leadership Studies. Keep reading to discover why she chose USD, how the program has helped her, and what she plans to do now.

Courtney Camden


Why did you choose SOLES? What made SOLES stand out in comparison to other schools with a similar program?

USD has always been my dream school, but I chose a different avenue for my undergraduate degree.However, when I was presented with the opportunity to not only attend USD for grad school, but also use my remaining NCAA eligibility to run track and XC here, I knew this is where I was supposed to end up.

I was looking to immerse myself in a socially and culturally diverse learning environment that would refine my sense of self-awareness and cultural competence, and that's exactly what I've gotten out of my time in SOLES and Leadership Studies.

I was actively pursuing something that would push me out of my comfort zone in all the right ways and challenge what I had previously accepted as normal.

What is your educational and professional background?

I got my bachelor's degree in Clinical Counseling from Azusa Pacific University, and am currently pursuing my MA in Leadership Studies here at USD. I am also the graduate assistant of Alumni Relations in SOLES, and I work as an educator at Lululemon. 

What do you hope to do with your degree and/or credential or license, and why?

I would love to assume an administrative position in a high school after I graduate because I have a passion for adolescents, and I want to contribute to the implementation of change that can better their academic experience. I've been provided with the skills and tools that can help me in my pursuit of this career and tangibly employ the personal values that I uphold of integrity, humility, and compassion. Now, as I go forward into the career that I'm pursuing within the school system, my biggest goal is to make a difference with our up-and-coming leaders, the next generation.

Favorite thing about your program?

The community. SOLES definitely has a sense of community that I am so appreciative of. I have developed genuine relationships with both my professors and classmates that have made this past year at USD so special.

Explore our full resource— How to Transform Yourself, Professionally and  Personally, with a Master’s in Leadership Studies.

Have you completed an international experience? What did you do? 

Yes...[however] I did not take a trip affiliated with USD; I was asked to lead a team of high schoolers to Ethiopia for their mission trip to partner with a nonprofit seeking to establish a foster care system in the country.

How would you describe the culture at SOLES?

Accepting, supportive, adaptive, friendly, welcoming.

Are you currently working? If so, do you work full-time or part-time, and what do you do? How do you balance work, school, and personal life?

Yes, I work part time as an educator at Lululemon. To be honest, I struggle to find a balance between being a full-time student-athlete with two jobs and an internship. But, that is not said as a complaint. I am young and eager, and I love what I do. Therefore, I don't mind bouncing from one commitment to the next because I am grateful for each opportunity to learn and develop as a person, an employee, a student, and a leader.

Are there specific SOLES faculty, staff or administrators you feel have contributed significantly to your success? How have they helped? 

All of my professors have been pretty incredible, [and some] have really left a lasting impact on me as both a student and an individual striving to make a positive impact on my various communities. They've all been extremely intentional about supporting my goals as a student, athlete,  and leader, and it's so apparent that they genuinely care about me beyond just the course curriculum. 

What advice can you share with prospective students?

Your time at SOLES is what you make of it. Your experience here has the potential to be the most impactful years of your life. Put yourself out there, build meaningful connections, and get involved! This community has SO much to offer, so do everything you can to fully invest and get the most out of the experience.

About the USD SOLES Master’s in Leadership Studies

The SOLES Master’s in Leadership Studies is designed for candidates who seek to create innovative and dynamic approaches to learning and leadership. The MA offers a unique degree of freedom and flexibility. Students are invited to examine, reflect and act on passionate concerns, working closely with faculty and fellow students, to bring theory and practice together to meet academic and professional goals.

All students in the Leadership Studies Program take required courses in the leadership core. These courses are designed to enhance students’ understanding of leadership theory, its practical applications and the ethical dimensions of leadership. Students also take a 3-unit research design and methodology course and are required to take a 3-unit internship/leadership in action course and engage in a practicum experience at a site of their choosing. Finally, students will enroll in three units of Capstone Seminar.

  • The program is a 36 unit degree that can be completed in two academic years. Students can also elect to undertake their studies on a part-time basis. 
  • Classes are held at night and on occasional weekends; the majority of our students work full time while participating in the program.
  • Students can pursue formal graduate certificates in Leadership Coaching and Restorative Justice Facilitation and Leadership or can customize their coursework in order to specialize in leadership for education, the military, athletics, policy, nonprofits, international business, and more.

Interested in learning more about USD SOLES? Our comprehensive resource is designed to help you discover how a Master's in Leadership Studies can transform your personal and professional life. 

View the Resource

Written By:

SOLES Admissions Team

We are the admissions team at the School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES). SOLES offers graduate and doctoral degrees in Counseling & Marital and Family Therapy, Leadership Studies, and Learning and Teaching. Through inquiry and practice, we combine educational equity with compassionate service to help our students develop the skills and vision necessary to become powerful agents of change.

Topics: Leadership Studies

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