Molly | Age: 22 | Wilmington, MA
Leadership is... throwing your full self into something you believe in, even if it creates enemies. Being a leader does not always equate to being popular; it equates to having impact.
Leadership in Life... My sophomore year of college, I was voted into the position of international break chair in Alpha Phi Omega. I led a group of twenty students and one faculty member to Costa Rica for a week of construction on what would become a recreational building for local teens to learn karate, dance, and take English lessons. Our group was of course made up of American college students, mostly white and mostly upper-middle class upbringing. We were not your average construction workers by any means, and there were definitely locals that could have done a better job. So why go? I asked myself this before running for the position, and over time I've become increasingly confident in my conclusion. While perhaps not professional construction workers, all of us in that group came from a place of privilege, receiving higher education to go on to important jobs and careers in our global society. Seeing a country that has been devastated first by colonization and now by the tourism industry, we realized in that week that not only do we have power beyond our imagination, but we have a responsibility to use that power for good in whatever careers we may end up in. We had spent a lot of time that week with a man named Roy. Growing up in a precario of Costa Rica, with the expectation being to join a gang in order to have power and support his family, Roy found his way out through the self-discipline and strength he learned from karate. Strong Missions, the nonprofit we served with, had discovered him in Los Guidos, a precario very similar to where he grew up, teaching children the very thing that saved him. He decided he would be the mentor to these children that he had always wished he had had. Strong Missions sponsored him so that he could do what he loved full time and become a part of the organization. He was a man of few words, but on our last night in CR he got serious and talked to us about his story. Looking around at each of us, he told us that no matter how much he does for his community, he will never have the kind of power that we have as American college students. This story and this statement has stuck with me, with all of us. As we approach graduation, and we all get ready to move and start our lives, I look back with pride at my leadership in a running a trip that will lead all of us to be responsible global citizens.
Advice… As millennials, we all get a bad rep for our avocado toast, attachment to our devices, and destroying unnecessary industries. But we have so much power, literally at our finger tips. As technology advances and the world becomes more connected, we find ourselves at a pivotal moment in history, and with all of the start-ups, inventions, and creativity that has already come from our generation we have proved our ability to have impact. My advice to my fellow millennials would be to not get caught up in the trivial, the drama, the mistakes of our twenties and instead to follow our passions head first without looking externally for affirmation - as experts on ourselves, we know what we are capable more than anyone else.
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