Leadership through connections: The impact of SALT through the eyes of a Bethel senior
Miki Harkins is one of the Student Athletic Leadership Team's most active members. Here's how the organization has helped shape her time in North Newton.
For many, college can be a time of uncertainty and anxiety — it’s a time where many young people first live on their own and have to learn how to juggle all of their interests with their busy schedules. On top of that, being a student-athlete can come with adversity and intensified challenges and responsibilities including time management, school-and-sport balance, mental health, and injuries.
The Student Athlete Leadership Team, most popularly known as SALT, is an important part of the academic and athletic programs at Bethel College. It works to bridge the gap between students and athletes and emphasizes the importance of community involvement and leadership skills in all aspects of life.
As a way to better understand SALT and its purpose and role at Bethel, I interviewed senior SALT member and Wichita native Miki Harkins. Harkins is a senior Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major on the Women’s Soccer and Flag Football teams, and has been a member of SALT since her sophomore year.
To better understand SALT’s mission, I asked Harkins to give me a short list of examples of what members do. Her list included community service like High Five Fridays, an activity where Thresher teams visit schools around Newton and high-five students as they enter school on Friday mornings. Additionally, she shared that some SALT members focus on improving and enhancing the on-campus gameday atmosphere. Finally, some members focus on the college’s social media accounts by working on posts and engagement.
One of the most well-known things that the SALT social media subcommittee helped brainstorm is the “Stone Zone” — a student-created organization that strives to create a more exciting atmosphere and higher attendance at all sporting events. It was ratified as an official club by the Student Government Association last October.
Harkins has attended Bethel for nearly four years now and serves as an active member of SALT. In talking with her, she explained how being a part of the leadership team has enhanced her overall experience at the college.
“Being a part of SALT has helped me build new relationships, especially with people outside of my own sport, which was kind of an issue for me because I don't socialize that much,” she said. “But meeting monthly with these individuals from these different sports has allowed me to get to know them better. And then building these connections helps me to support and build bonds with them, and they support me in return, too, so it just builds a better atmosphere.”
“And then building these connections helps me to support and build bonds with them, and they support me in return, too, so it just builds a better atmosphere.”
The SALT experience encourages its members to step out of their comfort zone and form skills and relationships with people that they may not have formed otherwise, especially with campus leaders like athletic director Tony Hoops.
“Tony isn’t someone I would have normally talked to all the time, but seeing him every now and then, I have somewhat of a stronger connection with him,” Harkins said. “It's just kind of a good thing for me. To just walk around campus and see someone you know. It's uplifting just to have a simple conversation.”
Harkins ended the interview with a compelling statement that demonstrates just how influential and significant her SALT experience has been: “SALT was a really good leadership opportunity for me to take on and I think leadership is a good quality to have for any well-rounded individual. It’ll help prepare me for my future in anything; whether that be in medicine, or just working with other people, school projects, or classwork.”