Reggie Robles
CPP Magazine

Leadership From The Ground Up

Alumnus, now staff member, models the power of leadership and advocacy

By Melanie Johnson

Reggie Robles spoke his return to Cal Poly Pomona into existence.

After graduating in 2012 with a degree in political science, Robles told friends and mentors that he hoped to one day return to campus to serve as the leadership development coordinator. In 2018, he did just that — leaving the University of Redlands after a 4 ½-year stint to take on that role for CPP’s Office of Student Life & Cultural Centers (OSLCC).

“It was a big dream,” he says. “I love leadership. Leadership is such an integral concept in how we develop a student to reach their potential.”

Robles runs Bronco LEAD (Leadership, Engagement, Advocacy and Development), which was created in 2014. The program has three certification levels for students — an introduction to leadership; a discovery course to determine who a student is as leader; and Lead-by-Doing, which involves action-driven activities and positions on and off campus. More than 600 students have been certified since 2018.

Surveys of participants found that 93 percent of those who attended a leadership development workshop walk out with the confidence to apply what they learned, 95 percent learned something new about their capabilities and 94 percent said they feel prepared to share leadership concepts with their peers.

Leadership goes beyond merely holding positions or offices, he says.

“It’s also the capacity to lead and then act, being able to develop yourself and have essential skills, being able to understand yourself, being able to understand others and care about the people around you,” Robles adds.

When he was an undergraduate, the El Monte native was active in several clubs, volunteered at ASI events and worked for OSLCC. He also began seeking out mentors.

Political Science Professor Renford Reese was one of them.

Intellectually curious, Robles was the kind of student who would follow Reese to his office after class for more dialogue. He later played on Reese’s intramural football team. They remain bonded.

Reese recalls Robles inviting social justice activists Patrisse Cullors and Yusef Salaam to campus in 2019 to speak to students for two separate events, tapping into the zeitgeist of recent times.

“He’s adept at running leadership events,” Reese says. “He understood that social justice is a cause de jour, and he brought the right person in at the right time.”

Robles, who has a master’s from Cal State Fullerton and is pursuing a doctorate in education from Claremont Graduate University says while there are inequities in education, it also offers a way for students to break through social and economic barriers.

“Advocacy from people like me and teaching students to learn to advocate for themselves is important, not just for education but in life,” he says. “It’s important to know who we are, so we can decide for ourselves what we can be.”