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Student Leader Spotlight: Mark Patrick Clements, Corning CC ’15

School and Year: Corning Community College, ’15

Major: Human Services

Leadership position: Student Trustee

How do you define leadership? 

Broken down to the basics, leadership is service. Every single person at Corning Community College has something unique, something singular to offer to the world, but many of them don’t know it because they have not been given the opportunity to recognize their potential, to realize their value, and to believe in their abilities. My job as a leader here at CCC is to serve each one of these students, to help each one of them in every way possible to become the best they can be. Each one of those students can then take their gifts further—their potential, their value, their abilities can then be used to serve and help those around them, who, in turn, will do the same with those around them. Think about it: I help you believe in yourself and discover your abilities, and then ten years from now you help John Smith with the same thing and then he helps someone else. And that cycle just keeps on going; it keeps on giving. It–leadership–truly is world-changing when approached and viewed in the proper perspective.

When things in your leadership position get particularly stressful, what helps you through it?

Knowing that what I’m doing really does make a difference is essential to helping me get through those times. You have to be able to see the big picture, to know that, in the long run, what you’re doing is the right thing for those whom you lead. Leadership isn’t about following the crowd or doing what feels good. It’s not about doing the easy things or looking good in front of other people. Leadership is about doing the right thing; it’s about standing up for what is right, even if it means you’ll be standing alone. Being a leader CAN be stressful, but having a clear understanding of the importance of your leadership does help make it easier.

What is one experience (any kind) you think everyone should have?

Everyone should have the experience of being part of something bigger than themselves. Whether it’s volunteering or being a member of a sports team, being part of something bigger than yourself helps fill that need we all have to belong, to feel accepted, to be part of a family. For me, the meat of this type of experience—the heart of it—is that it allows people to experience the feeling that they truly matter. Because, you know what? Each and every one of us DOES matter. The irony of this is that many people shun this type of experience because they think, “Oh, what can I contribute that’s special?” I can say from experience that those who think they can contribute the least can actually give the most.

What was your number one take-away from DFT?

The importance of connections through relationships, definitely. The quality of the relationships we build with others (being authentic!) plays a key role in determining how we interact with others and DFT emphasizes that. It’s not about me. It’s about how I can help you. It’s about what I can do for you. Being available for others in this way builds true, authentic relationships, relationships that can change the world.

What is your go-to happy song?

Wow, this is hard. I love so many different kinds of music! I’d have to say “Help Somebody” by Van Zant is a song that I often find myself listening to when I’m trying to stay focused on what’s important and what makes me happy. The lyrics present such a powerful narrative of the speaker’s grandparents and the advice they have to give now that they’re coming to the end of their time on earth. When push comes to shove, there’s so much that we worry about that really doesn’t matter. What’s really important is staying true to yourself, and helping others if you can, because–let’s face it–we ALL can help somebody.