Leadership In Action: Vanessa Sousa

Vanessa Sousa, Class of 2023


CLEG Major, Spanish Language minor
First Year Teaching Assistant for the Economic Inequality Issue Group, Spring 2021 DC Witness Intern, 2021-2022 Co-Student Director

Who am I?
Alongside being a sophomore at AU, I am also a first-generation American and college student from New Jersey studying CLEG with a minor in the Spanish Language, with the hopes of becoming trilingual! I have been very active in the Leadership Program and am often referred to as the program’s official “cheerleader”!
What are you involved with on campus?
First Year TA for Economic Inequality, AU Student Government Chief of Staff under the Vice President, & American University Center for Advocacy & Student Equity Accessibility & Accommodations Advocate
What do you do in your job?
I currently intern in a DC non-profit organization, DC Witness, as a Spring Intern where I track and collect data on homicide and domestic violence cases (utilized by the DC Metro PD and Congress in their criminal justice reform) and attend court hearings and trials on such homicides and domestic violence cases. Additionally, I write daily briefs and articles on attended hearings and compose long-form stories on homicide reduction policies.
How has the Leadership Program prepared you for your current role(s) either on or off campus?
The Leadership Program has taught me that the most successful leaders are the most authentic ones. In the program, I have learned that there are a variety of different leadership approaches and skills. Therefore, it is vital to appreciate and thus, apply one’s individualized strengths to each position acquired, and to embrace one’s qualities and values. Leadership comes in all shapes and sizes, therefore, instead of attempting to replicate a traditional-type of leader, take the opportunity to grow into your own leadership style; develop your style!
What is a message you have for other students?
First, active listening is just as vital as actively speaking – if not more so. Secondly, others will spot your inauthenticity, therefore, embrace who you are. Third, you will always learn something from others who possess a different perspective or life experience, therefore, enter each conversation openly.
As I transition into my role as one of the 2021-2022 Co-Student Directors, please reach out to me with any suggestions, questions or concerns! I am always open to hear what I can do to aid the SPA Leadership Program!
You can reach out to Vanessa on LinkedIn, on Instagram at @vanessa4s or at her Leadership project Instagram @closing_thegap. You can also reach Emma via email at