Kate Surprenant, a self-described feminist and passionate leader on the basketball court and across campus, shares her perspective on leadership and the importance of putting your heart into everything you do.
Written by Jess Evora, Assistant Director, OSILD
Photos provided by K. Surprenant
Kate Surprenant is our Women’s Basketball captain. She is one of our 2018 Orientation Co-Directors. She is also a member of several honor societies (Phi Eta Sigma, ODK, and Alpha Chi), and an employee of both the Student Center and the Wellness Center. This is all in addition to her full load of coursework as a senior Occupational Therapy major at WSU.
However, titles don’t mean much to Kate. She is focused on what she can do to help others. She genuinely cares about making sure she looks out for her peers. This is what makes Kate a leader.
An individual has to truly care about those around them, and they have to put in the work. Kate does just that.
Kate describes herself as an emotional leader. “Kristie [Director of the WSU Office of Student Involvement] actually made me aware of this,” Kate said. “And I agree with it. I’m a very passionate leader, and I want to see the people I work with genuinely succeed and improve. The success of others means a lot.”
“I’m also a very vocal leader, especially on my [basketball] team,” Kate said. “I voice things I don’t like and things I like. It’s important as captain to be the voice for those that are working with you.”
Kate feels that she is definitely grown as a person over time, and this has made a positive impact on her development as a leader.
“I grew up in a very small town in southern New Hampshire, so I wasn’t exposed to a lot of people with different backgrounds,” Kate said. “Coming to WSU was a great experience for me because of the diversity here. I learned that in order to lead people you need to understand them.”
Kate’s Leadership Roles on Campus
As Women’s Basketball Captain and Co-Director of Orientation, Kate has come to realize that you have to be personally invested in order to truly serve as a great leader.
“I wouldn’t have been able to serve in the leadership positions I’ve take on here at Worcester State, if I didn’t believe in what I’m doing,” Kate said. “You can’t lead something well that you don’t wholeheartedly believe in.”
“Orientation brings people together that may not have met before, and they are taught so much more about themselves,” Kate said. “Of course, Orientation is about welcoming new students, but it’s also an amazing journey for the Orientation Leaders themselves as well.”
Kate with the 2018 Worcester State Orientation Leaders
“And with basketball, my coach is amazing, and so is our team” Kate said. “Our team also has the chance to go on trips team members may not have otherwise been able to afford.”
“My teammates and fellow Orientation Leaders are the pioneers in changing who I was as a person in college, especially as a leader. Kate said. “I wouldn’t have grown without them being so special.”
Women and Leadership
Kate, who grew up with three brothers, explained that her identity as a female has played a large impact on how she has developed as a leader.
“Roles are very gendered, and I don’t love it,” Kate said. “I am a feminist for a reason. Even as a child I was pretty outgoing and outspoken and I would say how I felt. People tell girls you have to be quiet. Men had the leadership roles.”
“You just can’t hold a person’s personality back,” Kate said. “And I cared too much to not say anything. I held positions in student government in high school because I cared. It’s really important for women to find their voice.”
Her Biggest Lesson
“The biggest lesson I’ve learned about leadership is that you are not always going to be well-liked if you are doing it right,” Kate said. “Stereo-typically, leaders are popular and well-liked and may be the best at what they do. And so as Co-Director of Orientation and Basketball Captain, I was too worried about being liked,” Kate said. “And now I’m comfortable enough to know that they respect me, and that’s equally, if not more important.”
What advice would you give to students who are still trying to find their role as a leader in the community?
“The biggest thing I would say is that leadership takes time, and becoming a leader is a constant development,” Kate said. “You can’t ever be satisfied with where you are. Don’t get discouraged and there is always so much to learn about yourself as a leader. You should never be satisfied with where you are. There is always so much to learn about yourself as a leader.”
Final Thoughts from Kate
“A really close friend used to share this quote with me when I was struggling as a leader, and I’d like to share it with you,” Kate said. “‘As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.’ [a quote from Marianne Williamson]”.
Kate summed up the message of this quote in her own words: “If you do your thing, then everything else gets taken care of.”
Thank you Kate for the words of encouragement and for your contributions to the Worcester State community. We look forward to seeing you finish out your senior year strong.
The Office of Student Involvement & Leadership Development