Gracia Kitenge, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is a senior double majoring in Computer Science and Communications with a double concentration in software development and big data analysis. Gracia is also a Resident Assistant, Presidential Student Ambassador, President of the French Club, a former Orientation Leader, and a Career Assistant with Career Services. She also worked as a mentor helping early college students in high school and as a health ambassador with the Latino Education Institute. Gracia is also the current chair of the 2023 Class Committee.
How did you get involved in campus life? What advice would you give to students who haven’t yet found their place on campus?
COVID is a big reason for my involvement on campus. Online resources are what helped me to get to know my campus more! The more I learned about my campus, the more I realized about the opportunities it offers and that a student cannot only be studying but also be involved and develop their leadership skills as well as many others.
If I have to give advice to other students, I will say be open minded and always be willing to get out of your comfort zone. Surround yourself with people who will help you reach your goals and encourage you (family, friends, professors, campus resources, etc.)
How do you think you’ve changed as a leader throughout your time at WSU, and what aspects of your experience most influenced this change?
My leadership skills improved with time. As a leader, I learned how to be humble and listen to others (my co-workers). Being a leader is not just about giving orders and being on top of people, but showing the example and being that person others can rely on and trust. WSU taught me how to be responsible and helped develop my skills (communication, problem solving, leadership, etc.)
What is the biggest lesson you have learned when it comes to leadership?
One thing that I learned about leadership is that everyone can help you learn something new. As a leader, it’s not about me knowing everything but also being open minded and learning from others, being receptive to feedback and improving myself everyday. I learned that a good leader motivates others to be great and shows them the example to follow!
What would you say has been your best experience here at WSU?
My best experience was meeting great people who helped me become the person I am today. Being involved on campus (RA, PSA, OL, etc.) was the best decision I could have ever made in my life because today I have developed skills that I never thought I had, and feel ready to embrace the professional world.
What advice would you give to students who are just beginning to explore the type of leader, or the type of person, they hope to become?
I would say be yourself and don’t hesitate to step out and take a leap of faith. It may seem scary at first but once you’ve found the right people and get out of your comfort zone, be willing to give it a try, you’ll realize that it was worth it.
What are your current plans for the next few years?
My plans after graduating are to work as a Data Analyst in order to develop my skills even more, and then go back to school for my masters degree in Data Science to become a Data Scientist. My dream is to be part of the Amazon data team.