Zach Trudell, from Paxton, MA, is a senior majoring in Environmental Science with a minor in Ecology. Zach works for the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership Development as a Student Manager and Office Assistant, is the President of the Chess Club, and is a Tatnuck Brook research intern in the Department of Earth, Environment, and Physics department.
How did you get involved in campus life? What advice would you give to students who haven’t yet found their place on campus?
I got involved in campus life by taking the initiative and showing up to events and club meetings and talking to the people there. I filled out club interest forms, tried different things, and talked to as many people as I could until I found things that I was both interested in and felt like I belonged. It takes equally as much effort on your end to find your group as it does for that group to include you, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there!
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?
When I came to WSU, it was the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and I, like many others, was getting too used to the shut-in lifestyle. I was definitely not a leader, nor was I particularly extroverted. Through joining clubs and organizations, volunteering and participating in different events, and taking on responsibilities, I found myself learning that I was capable of leading. I found that my style of leading was being particularly in tune with the wants and needs of those I lead. Many people want to be heard and feel like they belong, especially after years of little social contact and high stress. By lowering myself from the pedestal of some refined leader to someone who may be more personable and relatable, I found that I was able to better reach and communicate with those I lead.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned when it comes to leadership?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned about leadership is that no one is perfect and that mistakes happen, but they are a learning experience and a chance to get better at what you do. Reflecting on mistakes may allow you to improve yourself and your leadership ability. As a leader, you should strive to do right by those you lead and those around you who look up to you. However, things will happen that will challenge you and cause you to perform poorly or make mistakes. But that is okay. Know that when you do your best and learn from everything, including mistakes, you can succeed.
What would you say has been your best experience here at WSU?
My best experience here at WSU has probably been either movie nights with friends in the residence halls, or the weekly Chess Club meetings.
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?
Take a leap of faith and try things that you might not normally do! Try volunteering, go to an event you are on the fence about, or even participate in OSILD’s Leadership Circle workshops. Self-reflection is key to figuring out how you lead or figuring out who you are and how you operate. Take time to think about how something made you feel or how you may have reacted. Look back on how you might have done something, and think about how it could have turned out differently had you done something else.
What are your current plans for the next few years?
I plan on focusing on career acquisition this academic year, as well as finishing my degree. I have always dreamt of working in environmental conservation/sciences, and I am hoping that I can find a career path that will give me opportunities to make the world a better place through doing what I love. As for this current year, I plan on building up the Worcester State Chess Club and hosting/co-sponsoring events, as well as participating in some interesting research in my field. Most of all, though, I hope to enjoy my last year in school as much as I can!