Emerge Leadership Philosophies | Spring 2023

April 3, 2023

At the culmination of each semester’s Emerge Leadership Circle, students share their personal leadership philosophies. These philosophies are the culmination of a semester’s learning and reflection, and each is as unique as the participant themselves.

Jonathan Godbout
Class of 2026

“For the last session of emerge, we’ve all gathered here
To present our leadership philosophy
In order to present mine with a little coherence
I’ll talk first about my own leadership experience

I coach the Ultimate Obstacles ninja team
With kids ages six to seventeen
They all work hard and want to succeed
And in some ways, they rely on me
So I need to give my all to them
Do more than just high five and commend
I build obstacles and plan classes to help them excel
Cause they won’t work hard unless I do as well

Aside from working hard, there’s being understanding
Sometimes you have off days–the sport’s demanding
No one performs their best every single day
Coaches who don’t get that are as annoying as writing as essay
“Hey little mistakes happen” or “we’ll get ‘em next comp”
Are a whole lot better than “you failed and you should stop”
Being kind and understanding are two important virtues
Lead for others how you’d want them to lead for you

So that sums it up–work hard, be kind, and be understanding
If you do that, as a leader, you’ll be outstanding”

John McNulty
Class of 2026

Being a leader to me is not waiting for someone else to step and help. Being a leader to me is being able to step up for yourself and others. Its being able to pick out what people are best at and making them feel positive about themselves to bring out the best in them without making them feel uncomfortable. Being a leader doesn’t mean you are the best or that you have to have control of a crowd, it simply means that you can work with people to create something out of nothing. I didn’t really want to become a leader, but I ended up doing it anyway because I wanted to change some things in my youth group at my temple, and luckily, I was a decent leader to start off with, so my experiences have only made me better at leading people. It has also made me a better person in general as well.

Sushma Gaggai
Class of 2026

“A leader is someone who embraces their flaws and strives to be better, rather than looking down on others who have flaws. It’s important to assist your followers in overcoming their flaws so that they can become the greatest version of themselves. Being a leader I strive to uphold the right principles, continue on the right path, and avoid being influenced by negative people. A leader must not be apprehensive about speaking up; they must let their voices be heard while also allowing everyone’s voice to be heard and making the shared space feel welcoming and safe. I believe this is very important so that no one feels left out or unwelcome by those around them. Everyone’s voice must be able to convey their message effectively. When it comes to decision-making, I believe everyone should participate and share their ideas. Having a diverse group of views and ideas can contribute to making better decisions. I want to lead with compassion, respect, empathy, and patience. In the future, I hope to be a better listener and more welcoming to people to be more approachable. Finally, I aspire to be a confident leader who can inspire, motivate and encourage everyone on my team while working together to improve the world.”

Kyram Pou
Class of 2025

Everyone has their own perception of the word “leadership,” whether it is what appeals to them the most, or any core strengths or weaknesses they have. Some are able to keep up with leadership skills while others often struggle to figure themselves out, which is okay. Everyone has their own route to leadership and to success, so it is important to never compare yourself to someone else and the route they are taking.

Growing up, I was always involved in leadership roles and activities. I was always the creative and artistic person in whatever group I was in. I used to always think to myself that “I’m not up to par” with other leaders since they have different approaches to leadership. Many people were thinkers, many people were hands on and helpful leaders, and many liked to handle serious challenges head on. I’m a person who likes to go outside the box, see all my possibilities, and then continue. I’m always prepared for anything that comes my way, which could lead to overthinking, but when I begin to get too far in the thought process, I know how and when to stop.

Ever since I have been a member of the Worcester State community, I have immersed myself in student leadership environments and met some amazing people and have made some lifelong connections. It’s important to be a part of something, especially an environment that you are in or an environment you are passionate about. Other than leadership roles, I even work at the school; I have made many friends on campus this past semester and I was able to fit in quickly. Leadership is a maze; it contains your route. There are some parts of that maze where you have to go back and go the other way. It is a sum of everyone’s traits and qualities. It is okay to take the route of your own, and it is okay to explore yourself and learn about yourself, because when you do, you will end up in the same place as everyone else, far ahead from where you first started.

Allana Richardson
Class of 2026

For me, to be a leader is to do what I can and not break my back over it. Everything we do as people involves learning from our mistakes and making better decisions based on what we know now and what we will know soon in our lives. I happen to break my back over certain things, like making sure I don’t screw something up even though nine out of ten times I have the answer on what to do. It’s because I don’t want to make a mistake that gives others more work so I have little faith in myself. And that’s kind of how I see leadership. In some ways, leadership includes the good character traits of leaders like confident, smart, taking the first steps to be open and willing to welcome everything from different ideas to different ethnicities. But I can see insecurity tied in also since I feel unsure of myself from time to time and it’s a part of everyone. We’re all insecure about something and we push through it still to do what we think is right. I can do what I put my mind to, like anyone else can. With me pushing through my insecurities, no matter how much I don’t think about it, I just go and do what I do best which is plan, talk out ideas and test different strategies for the best way possible. Mistakes happen and I believe that that is a part of leadership.

When it comes to the future, though we do worry about consequences of our mistakes or possible mistakes, we can’t break our backs over it worrying that we made the wrong decision. We can only move forward and place our trust in to the people we know and don’t know, our goals, and if you’re religious and know that it’s a part of not just who we are but our values too, our beliefs and the assumptions we have, no matter if they change or not. Leadership evolves with me so if I’m uncertain, I will ask questions and people can question why they’re following me and later on, I can become even more open-minded and more comfortable with myself and others will see that. Our actions speak louder than our words, it’s natural for people to identify someone with how they do things. If I get to know my group that I’m working with, we can work together in ways that things can go smoothly, or as smoothly as it can possibly go. Nothing is for certain, that is something I know, like how mistakes are universal, they’re always happening and we can’t focus solely on those miscalculations that we make. If a leader can, if I can move along off of my errors, then I can be not just who I want, but what others need when the time is right because of the people I have learned from, what I believe in, and how I am me. I think I just needto not just be open to others but to myself too.

Ailany Rivas
Class of 2026

I never really realized when I started to become a leader because to me I was just helping out my group mates. It all started one day in 7th grade when I was put into a group with kids who seemed to be on the shy side or were confused on what we were doing. Either way I didn’t mind because I was determined to help my group mates in any way I could. And if that meant taking charge and guiding them in the right direction or assigning who did what, I was glad to do so. I was explaining to a member in my group what to do and helping her out once she had finished writing, making sure for her that she was on the right track. As I was doing that my English teacher walked by and said good job being a leader Ailany. I looked up at her and smiled because to me I was just doing what I always did when my group mates needed help. I mean our whole middle and high school years were based on six principles reflect/self monitor/ persevere, communication, collaboration, investigation and research, analyses and problem solving and lastly Ubuntu we are because you are moto. And up until that day I had never really realized how much I was truly using those principles. I guess what I am trying to say is I am a leader because it’s where I feel the most comfortable and it’s where I feel I can be the utmost helpful. I think I have been in so many leadership roles that it’s allowed me to see what type of leader I can be and I crave that ability. I love being able to direct people in the right direction, I like the inclusivity that it gives me because everyone is asking me for help and needing me and what I have to offer. Being a leader makes me feel as if I have made a difference for someone big or small because without it what I created or envisioned wouldn’t have even happened or been better than we all could have imagined. Also being a leader puts a sense of maturity, respect, trustworthiness, and a sense of I can rely or come to you for advice or anything and or in trust you with a bunch of people or things and it will be okay. 

Lastly, my philosophy for leadership is that a leader is someone who guides without expecting anything in return. Someone who loves what they do because they know the outcome can be endless. Someone who is constantly there for their team and group to ensure that you can bring out the best in them and use their skills to help them bring out potential they didn’t realize they had. A leader is someone who doesn’t only teaches but learn from those they teach.

Abigail Saner
Class of 2026

“I have always been told that I was a natural born leader, and that I light up a room when I enter it. I believe leading a crowd is a part of my personality, and I am always looking for different ways to express this trait of mine. I often find myself naturally becoming the leader of a group, whether I am the one to lead the car line of my friends from school to chipotle, or organizing when and how my grandparents will take their annual trip to Florida. I have strong beliefs as to what a leader should uphold, and demonstrate. For me  a leader should always be open to change, and be adaptable to any situation. Over the summer I run a week-long program through my city’s Recreation Program, and last year at the camp we had over 50 kids sign up to take my week. Having little to nothing planned for this amount of kids, I was able to flip around the schedule and make it so the kids still had a fun week, and were able to put on a small show at the end of the week for the other campers and their parents. Because of the ability to adapt and go with the flow, my crew and I had the best week of the camp yet, and we are looking forward to this summer with an even larger group of kids. 

Throughout Emerge I have been saying that I am the type of leader who thrives in chaos. Through different leadership positions I have heldI have learned how to handle chaos. One very chaotic situation I had to lead through was the morning of a dance competition, when one of the girls in my dance group got the stomach bug, and wasn’t able to perform the dance that day. Me being the captain of the team, all the weight fell on my shoulders, and members of my team were calling me stressed and worried. Thinking quickly I called up another girl on the team and taught her the dance in 2 hours at the dance competition, and we performed it with her. Not only was it the best time that group performed, but we placed 3rd overall. From this experience I have learned that chaos can happen anywhere, anytime but it’s important to keep leading even though it may seem hard.

In almost every leadership position I’ve held, I feel as though I have been challenged. This is the challenge I seek, and love to work in. As a leader my number one priority is not just getting the task done and accomplished, but serving the group of people I lead. I love leading groups of any size, and look forward to the future leadership position I will hold.”