We spend a lot of time picturing the quintessential “student leader” – frenzied, wide eyed, hyper, loves ice breakers, does about a thousand and one activities. The poster child of the school. The “they are GOING places, unless they burn out, knock on wood” students.
But what about everyone else? What about the student leaders who aren’t on the board of any clubs, and who aren’t famous across campus? That’s right, I called them student leaders. Let’s expand our definition of the term, shall we?
All four years of my experience at Fordham, I had a beautiful, spectacular friend named Anthony. As we “grew up” together, he became my student leader. Granted, Anthony was involved. He was a TA in his major’s department, he tutored, he was on the board of a club or two. But he wasn’t the stereotypical student leader: he was calm, wasn’t insanely busy, spent a lot of free time hanging out with his roommates. I wonder if he’d even call himself a student leader, I will have to ask him.
You see, Anthony basically kept me sane those 4 years of college. As a commuter, I was always the unofficial other roommate wherever he was living. He made pasta and insisted I joined him for dinner. (No, really, I was afraid to say no…). He pushed me to get involved in events outside of the school. He helped me through a lot of difficult classes. We spent countless hours together, and he basically took care of me.
Therefore, Anthony is unequivocally a leader, even though he never organized Spring Weekend, or became an RA. Let’s take a look at how he led other students (or me, in my experience):
- Pushing others to be their best self – check
- Putting others first and making sure everyone was taken care of – check
- Makes the people around him have fun – check
- Gets it done and finds the solution – check
- Gives advice and supports his friends – check
- Organizes and executes the task at hand – check (don’t mention macroeconomics to either of us)
Sounds like a leader, no? I don’t think Anthony ever wanted to be that slightly crazed, bulletin board making, always at the front of the room type of person I wanted to be. But in his way, with his awesome personality, he led those around him by building a warm culture within the res hall and classrooms, and beyond.
What about those students you know who were even less involved on campus than Anthony? Do you think they might be leaders too, in their actions, not their titles? That’s your job as a 4 or 5 on the dance floor – to pick out those with leadership potential.
So, thanks Anthony. I couldn’t have done college without you. You’re a reminder that the mold of “leader” isn’t one size fits all, and that anyone can make everyone else feel welcomed, connected, and engaged.