At the culmination of each semester’s Engage Leadership Circle, students share their updated personal leadership philosophies. These philosophies are the culmination of a semester’s learning and reflection, and each is as unique as the participant themselves.
Class of 2024
“As I continue to grow in who I am as a leader I’ve taken the time to reflect on my values and who I truly am as a leader. Leadership to me is to be able to help others achieve their goals and successes while also making sure they have fun while doing so. A leader is someone who is willing to step up to the plate and become the driving force in motivating others and being able to encourage others while also following my passions. I’ve had the opportunity to work with others from different cultures and with other styles of leadership. I think that this is such an eye opening experience to see how no matter our differences we can still work together and see eachother just for how we are in this moment. I think a large part of my growth as a leader is having people push me as a leader and really get me to be the best leader I can. Without the push and all the advice I wouldn’t be the leader I am today and all the growth I have achieved. Before these programs I didn’t think I could become a leader. I was a shy freshman and someone who could never be in such a position. But being in these positions and these programs I’ve become someone who is more confident and flexible in being me.“
Class of 2023
“I’d like to begin my speech with just a small poem I created titled “He Who Leads.”
He who leads, leads not for himself, but for others
He who leads, leads not just for today or tomorrow, but for the future
He who leads must do so with respect, for if he doesn’t he will not connect
He who leads can lead from afar, allowing others to shine like a shooting star
Leading is in a way an improv act. Oftentimes we must work against the clock. I only gave myself a few minutes to write that poem and look at what I created, a classic piece of modern American Literature.
As a fan of comedy I like to be in situations where I can rely on quick wits to navigate high pressure environments. I view leadership in many ways as my own improv act. So many things go into leadership and while you should always be prepared there is no way you can plan for everything.
This works in much the same way as a comedian. You can write the jokes and practice them in front of your mirror for hours, but the audience determines how funny you really are.
It’s like Grafton High School JV football coach Ryan “Baby Gap” Jack used to say
“It’s all about response. And when I say response I mean responding to the stuff that happens when stuff ‘happening’. Someone who’s in touch with their roots, like a tree but not actually you gotta know you are not a tree. People who stay out in the cold may experience pain, but they also gain a lesson. And one guy was cold at first, then everyone was cold after that individual.”
I have been friends with Baby Gap for a very long time but I swear ever since he became the coach of that team he’s started speaking very oddly, it’s a conversation we need to have.
I had to include that in there just because of the magnitude of his conceptualization.
Point is, we had a good time eh?
Listen, I want to make sure that everyone is having a good time, and being put in roles where we can be ourselves and see the value of our contributions. Let’s have some fun, while respecting one another, and the work will be enjoyed. Thank you everyone!”
Class of 2024
“In a room full of many I may appear small
I know I can’t place myself in a box when I have the potential to lead all
I was once a follower, now a leader
What I can promise you now is I am a completer
Trust me in the journey to be our best selves
Taking advantage of our individuality is how we excel
I want people to trust me,
As no task is too small or far I promise you will see
In this world, not a single person is not able
The title perfect may be desired but I don’t have all the answers to give me that label
I promise I lead not for power but for growth
As a leader, your success is under my oath.”
Class of 2022
“I was a loser in high school.
I was an even bigger loser before that.
Then again, I was basing that off of
Everything I saw on TV.
Being a leader was never even on my radar.
I never thought I had what it took.
I wasn’t strong, or confident.
I thought my best trait was cracking a joke.
I realized that cracking jokes was self-defense.
I mean, for being above average in height,
I felt pretty small.
And I thought this for a long time.
Yet none of those things define a leader.
A leader doesn’t have to be the center of attention.
They don’t have to be the smartest person in the room.
That all changed when I actually took risks for myself.
I did Emerge with an energy drink-fueled Linzy,
I became an orientation leader for an electric freshman class,
And now I’m here in Engage, having Sarah deal with me outside of the office.
It was through this that I realized what a real leader is.
A real leader doesn’t try to do everything,
They know when to let others take over.
A real leader doesn’t hide when things get hectic,
They unite and comfort in times of disarray.
Most importantly, a leader isn’t just one person.
There is a leader in every single person.
Everyone has strengths, everyone has weaknesses.
When a person learns to work with others and adapt,
That is when they know they’re a leader.
At least, that’s what happened to me.”
Class of 2022
“Behind every great leader is a set of unwavering morals and values. Your morals not only make up who you are as a person, but how you interact with the world around you. These morals create a set of guidelines for how you go about life and making decisions. In a way, your morals lead your decision-making. One cannot simply make decisions without thinking whether they are right or wrong without thinking about how these decisions will impact their lives in any way, shape, or form. We, as humans, are guided by our morals and values. Without them, we are lost. Think of it like this, we grow up with the presence of a shadow. This shadow is constantly holding our hand and leading us to make certain decisions. We can’t form our own thoughts or choices without it. We rely so heavily on this shadow, that if something happens to it and we’re asked to make a decision, we would be frozen in place; not knowing what to do because we don’t have our decision-making helper guiding us. If you think of that shadow as representative of your morals, then wouldn’t our values personify leadership? If so, if you are unable to lead yourself, then how will you be able to lead others?”