My Leadership Experiences
When I started my leadership program experience freshman year, I was excited to plan my issue group project and learn more about leadership opportunities on campus. My issue group, gender, and sexuality allowed me to explore more about my passion for reproductive rights while working with a small team. The team had a wide range of leadership styles and I learned a great deal about how I work in a team and how to work with different leadership styles.
My experience in my first year empowered me to apply to be a first-year TA where I had the privilege of working with the Environmental Sustainability group. I learned a lot about what it meant to be a mentor and lead a team. At the same time, I was leading my second-year issue project, which was a campus-wide workshop focusing on reproductive health. The Papaya Workshop that I held reached over 50 students and provided the group with a fruitful discussion on reproductive health access and demystified reproductive health procedures.
My final two years of the leadership program consisted of a great internship experience and an extremely helpful internship class. In this course, I was able to share with other students how I worked within my internship team and learned a lot about how to make the most out of leadership and career opportunities.
My first internship experience was in the spring semester of freshman year and was a great introduction to internship culture. I worked as a legislative intern in Congresswoman Alma Adams office. My time on the hill taught me a lot about working in a fast-paced environment and how to be an efficient public servant.
In my sophomore year, I worked as a programs intern for Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity (URGE). The DC office was small but mighty, and as an intern, I was given a lot of responsibilities which was a great honor. URGE organizes in 5 states, states that are are essential to push for reproductive justice efforts. I was able to work with URGE for an entire academic year, which was such a privilege and allowed me to get to know my co-workers on a deeper level and improve upon my writing and organizational skills.
The summer between my sophomore and junior year I was selected to be an RRASC fellow and was placed with The Doula Project NYC. While here I worked to organize birth doula services in the NYC metropolitan area and served as an abortion doula inside Planned Parenthood NYC.
In my junior year, I interned at the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA) as an Advocacy and Communications intern. This experience was wonderful as I helped organize the National Conference and was able to work with a passionate team ensuring reproductive health access across the nation. During my time here, we went remote as a response to COVID-19 and I learned a great deal about how to work and lead in a remote environment.
A brief summary of the program…
The leadership program has a multi-faceted approach to get students to grow their leadership skills and allow them to see their strengths and areas for improvement as a leader. In your first year, you are placed in an issue group with 5 or 6 other students and presented with the task of creating an issue group project that has a positive impact on campus or the greater community. In your second year, you perform an independent project on your own. That project needs to align with your passions and also have a measurable positive impact on your community. In your third and fourth year, you must complete an internship while taking an internship class that allows you to think critically about your work and overall experience. Finally, you work on a leadership capstone that pushes students to reflect on their leadership experiences and styles and how they see leadership in the “real world.”
A reflection on how the program increased your knowledge of leadership…
Not only did the program’s classes surrounding leadership grow my knowledge of previous leaders, but it also allowed me to understand that much more went into leadership and being a good leader than simply taking the role. The type of leader you are, and your dedication to being a good and fair one, has such an impact on the success of the overall program, team, or goal.
A reflection on how the program changed your view of leadership…
One of the major ways the program changed my view of leadership is all the different ways a leader can look. There are so many different leadership styles that fit a multitude of personalities and roles. I think typically, we are taught that the leaders are the loud individuals who look a certain way and take up lots of space, these are typically people who have been allowed to take leadership roles for a long time. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
One key thing you took away from the program…
One key thing I took away from my time with the leadership program is that opportunities for leadership are everywhere. In addition, every role I will take will be a role of leadership, whether or not it is technically a supervisor role. As we move through positions or different phases of life, the way we lead, and the type of leader we are is put to the test.