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Compilation of Leadership Experiences
Type of Experience: Course
Name of Experience: SPA-460-001: Political & Organizational Leadership
Date or Time Frame: January 2021 – May 2021
● Completed SPA Leadership program by reflecting on skills learned and producing a final
policy memo
Type of Experience: Internship Course
Name of Experience: SPA-391: Leadership: Chesapeake Climate Action Network
Date or Time Frame: August 2020 – December 2020
● Recruited 9 student organizations to mobilize against fossil fuel infrastructure on
Maryland’s Eastern Shore
● Testified to Lt. Governor and Comptroller at Maryland Board of Public Works hearing on
pipeline projects
● Researched 40+ Maryland lawmakers and drafted volunteer action petitions against fossil
Type of Experience: Volunteer
Name of Experience: Mondaire Jones for Congress
Date or Time Frame: March 2020 – August 2020
● Led social media campaign where 20+ volunteers shared personal stories of support for
the candidate
● Coordinated release timing, leading to thousands of views on Twitter and Facebook
● Hosted virtual phone banks for 50+ volunteers, resulting in tens of thousands of calls to
voters. Confirmed attendees and trained first-time phone bankers on ThruTalk (dialer
system) and the policy platform
● Led 1:1 relational organizing sessions with volunteers and shared strategies for having
persuasive conversations with their personal networks. Led trainings on the relational
organizing app Reach to assist in their outreach
● Engaged in 15-20 hours per week of direct voter contact and helped voters make a plan to
Type of Experience: Teaching Assistant
Name of Experience: SPA Leadership Program: First-Year TA
Date or Time Frame: August 2019 – May 2020
● Supervised cohort of 6 freshmen in developing a group social action project on
immigrant & refugee rights
● Mentored students on research and writing skills and advised on methods for community
● Organized retreats, social events, and study sessions for first-year class while maintaining
a professional rapportType of Experience: Course
Name of Experience: SPA-362: Leadership Development Lab II
Date or Time Frame: August 2019 – May 2020
● Expanded knowledge of practical leadership skills by participating in interactive
classroom workshops and engaging with other students
● Served as a teaching assistant to Immigration & Refugee Rights cohort
● Outlined social action project to share health care resources with DC immigrant
Type of Experience: Course
Name of Experience: SPA-361: Leadership Development Lab I
Date or Time Frame: August 2018 – May 2019
● Researched the root causes of immigration to the United States from Central America and
crafted policy memos on subsequent findings
● Created a social action project to address the lack of college resources for ESL,
first-generation college students
● Presented a college workshop to parents of ESL students at a local Catholic church in
Glenmont, MD
Type of Experience: Volunteer
Name of Experience: Appalachia Service Project
Date or Time Frame: July 2016 – July 2019
● Forged relationships with homeowners and gained insight into the cycle of poverty while
repairing houses
● Mentored younger volunteers and spread awareness by speaking at local dinners and
● Fundraised by organizing annual pancake breakfast and direct mail campaign to donorsReflective Essays
1. A brief summary of the program…
My SPA Leadership Program journey began as a freshman. I participated in the first-year
program, working with the Immigration & Refugee Rights group to cultivate research skills and
implement a social action project. Our final product provided college prep resources to ESL
students in Glenmont, MD and informed parents about the college process. I knew that this was
an area I was passionate about so I pursued a personal social action project during my sophomore
year to provide immigrants in DC with a comprehensive list of available healthcare resources.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 and personal illness prohibited final implementation.
Despite the on-going global pandemic, my third year in leadership as a junior has allowed
me to intern with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and take the final seminar to reflect
on my leadership experience. This program has provided me with the opportunity to serve as a
first-year TA, meet an amazing community of dedicated students, and learn from professors
dedicated to the field of leadership. I have loved watching myself grow into a young
professional, supported and cheered on by the leadership community.
2. A reflection on how the program increased your knowledge of leadership…
My knowledge of leadership has grown exponentially through this program. Each
semester has been a different experience, from lecture style to interactive workshops. I have
enjoyed learning the theories of leadership and the implementation of these styles, especially
through the examples of James Baldwin, John F. Kennedy, and other historical figures. Before
the leadership program, I never looked for specific rhetorical strategies or organizational
structures within the people I admire. Now, I tend to analyze how they lead and the issue framing
style they use.Conventional views of leadership can be very single-minded, focused on the male
authority figure. The leadership program has absolutely blown open this stereotype. The
diversity within the program, from students to faculty to guest speakers speaks volumes to what
leadership can look like. It gives me hope for the future generation and motivates me to lead with
grace, kindness, and loyalty.
3. A reflection on how the program changed your view of leadership…
Before I became a student in the SPA Leadership Program, I thought that leadership was
standing at the front of a room and ordering people around. I have come to learn that leadership
is so much more than that. Most of all, I have enjoyed learning about transformational and
adaptive leadership, working to implement these skills at a first-year TA and during my
internships. I understand that I am a “lion” – passionate, loud, and authoritative. However, I
recognize the importance of learning from others and from history.
Especially in my final semester, I see that leadership through the years has evolved into
the collaborative experience we picture today. I know that to become a leader in the field of
politics and campaigns, I must harness my new-found ability to understand others as leaders too,
and work together towards a common goal. Being at the forefront of a project does not always
make you a good leader, especially if you block out others.
4. One key thing you took away from the program…
It is probably outlined in my previous responses but my biggest take away from the SPA
Leadership Program is just how diverse leadership can be. From “owls” to “lions”, collaborative
to authoritarian, leadership does not look like one textbook thing. Leadership is a learned skill
that can be improved and developed overtime. While some people may “naturally” haveleadership-type skills, their form of leadership could be completely different from other
individuals. It is important to hone your own set of skills to be an authentic, transformational
leader.Essay on Leadership Growth
Starting university is an overwhelming experience. I was nervous to attend the Welcome
Week events hosted by the SPA Leadership Program at American University. I felt like I already
knew what leadership was and that the students in the program would be too intimidating. These
misconceptions were purely that: fictional. My experience as a Leadership Program student has
revolutionized the way I view leadership on a personal and professional level, while also
providing me with a cohort of like minded, ambitious students.
Leadership is a skill, something that must be learned and nurtured. My first-year social
action project forced me to collaborate and form qualities I didn’t know existed, especially my
research skills. Through writing policy memos, literature reviews, and various project
components, I was able to learn the ins and outs of effective public policy leadership. All of this
took humbling myself and learning from others, a key aspect of my leadership journey. I saw my
personal awareness grow as I interacted with the undoccumented community in D.C. and learned
from the experiences of my peers. I learned what it meant to be a transformational leader – a
person that works collaboratively to identify areas of change and works to encourage
participation. This first-year path would push me to apply to competitive internships, go out of
my comfort zone, and form unlikely connections.
The practical and theoretical side of leadership has grown to fascinate me. I have learned
about issue framing, agenda setting, and agenda control, which has helped me navigate my
public policy internships and better synthesize historical events. The tenants of adaptive
leadership and transformational leadership and their use (or lack of) by everyday politicians is
something that I now look for. In my personal life, I have worked to adapt these skills in how I
interact with friends and family, making sure to never come across as the “Great Man” leader.Leadership presents itself in every situation, whether it be in presidential decision making or
navigating a group project. My leadership growth has centered around learning more about my
own leadership skills, relating them to historical and political examples, and then working to
improve them through coursework, internships, and personal connections.
It is inevitable that many people today still view leadership as a position, not a process.
However, that is something I try to change in my everyday interactions. I have learned to accept
criticism through the experience of building a social action project and working through
leadership exercises my sophomore year. I recognize the vitality of collaboration to implement
real, long-lasting change, as seen through the way I always encouraged growth in my students as
a Teaching Assistant. In the true nature of transformational leadership, I also looked to my
students to teach and inform me. I truly believe there is no situation where growth and
knowledge building is impossible
The SPA Leadership Program, as well as leadership itself, means so much to me. It was
through this community that I transformed my view of leadership into a growth mindset, one that
rejects the patriarchal, archaic views of the past. I have found my voice within the Leadership
Program, serving as a teaching assistant to first-years as a way to give back. I have also grown in
knowledge of myself, learning to trust my leadership skills and to always look to others to
improve. I am thankful for what this program has given to me and I will always remember the
profound impact it had on my leadership, personal, and professional growth