Student Leadership and Endless Opportunities

By: Amanda Sedlmayer

All it took was that one decision. That one thought that “I am going to try this”. Since then, a world of opportunities has opened up for me. I have met hundreds of people on campus, have networked and connected with these individuals and have found out so much more about myself, my abilities, strengths and even weaknesses. All it took was that one decision to apply for an Alternative Break because I had that one little thought that “I am going to try this.”

It was last November that I considered going on an Alternative Spring Break. I had heard it was an amazing organization where you get to volunteer outside of New Jersey and make an impact in a community. Since volunteering was something I had very little experience in, I thought “why not try this”. I had made it through the application and interview process and after expressing interest in educational causes I was accepted in early December for an Alternative Spring Break to Baltimore with Teach for America. I was not familiar with the area of Baltimore or the organization Teach for America and we were clueless on what exactly we were doing until the itinerary arrived two weeks before our departure. Alternative Breaks changed my college career from that point on.

The week-long trip introduced me to what it was I wanted to do for the rest of my life and so many more opportunities. Growing up I had always wanted to be a teacher but put it on the back burner in order to consider a lucrative future in business. At Rutgers, I struggled with the prerequisite business courses, barely enjoyed them and knew I was only thinking of the money as happiness. On the Alternative Break trip, Luis Fernandez shared with me his major in Planning and Public Policy with the Edward J. Bloustein School. I had never heard of it but it sounded like it was aligned with more of my interests in social change and evaluating political areas. As soon as I came back from my trip, I looked into the major and changed it.

The trip was also an eye opening experience as to how one person can really make a difference to a group of children. The classroom I was in was with a Teach for America corporate member who had already finished his 2 year commitment and was staying in the school because of how driven he was to improve the children’s education. After volunteering, I knew I wanted to stay with Teach for America, following their mission and goals. I was told about an opportunity as a Campus Campaign Coordinator, applied and was accepted in late May.

Not only did I change my major and get an internship from my Alternative Break buy I also became very close to Matthew Ferguson, the Director of Leadership and Training at Rutgers who offered me another internship opportunity to work on projects at Rutgers related to leadership. I couldn’t leave Alternative Breaks either. I knew it had left a mark on my life and in April I applied to be on the Executive Board and won the Treasurer position. This year, I have taken on these 2 internship opportunities, the executive member position, and a new major and I put every little bit of myself into all of these endeavors. It has sincerely been life changing.

College is apparently the best four years of your life. But it takes a little effort to make them the best. Get involved, do something your passionate about, and find out more about who you are. Go out there and try something because I promise you, you will not regret it.

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551265_4945876088119_298199625_nAmanda Sedlmayer is a junior at Rutgers University studying Planning and Public Policy with a minor in Education. She is the Treasurer for Alternative Breaks, is a Resident Assistant in the Ernest Lynton Towers on Livingston and is a Campus Campaign Coordinator for Teach for America. Amanda has been involved in several organizations on campus and loves taking advantage of the opportunities on campus!

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Making it Happen: Leadership and Inspiring Others to Lead

By: Meghan King

We have all heard the phrase “leadership is not position, it is action.” Not only do I agree with this, but I think the ability to make it happen is an important quality when considering how you want to lead on campus.  What do I mean by make it happen? When given a task, you deliver results and no matter what hiccups happen along the way – you focus on being a flexible leader. In order to get things done, I have learned during my time at Rutgers that you can’t just want to accomplish something, but as a leader, you need to inspire your team to accomplish it as well. As both Producer of Cabaret Theatre and an RA on campus, there are many times that I have planned for something to go one way and it has gone the complete opposite way of how I planned. But the important thing is that whatever that event, conversation, or plan was – it still was executed effectively and it was executed with a team that was passionate about what we were doing.

Here are my tips worth considering when you need to make it happen here at Rutgers:

  1. Think big picture: When you are trying to get something done that has hit some speed bumps, take a breath, take a step back and remember why you are doing this thing. Reflect on this why with your team and brainstorm how you can accomplish this still embodying your why even if it was not the way you originally planned.

  2. Don’t ask things you aren’t willing to do yourself: As a leader, your team is always watching how you act and react. They are also going to be much more willing to get that thing done when you need them to, if they understand that you are going to be there, helping and supporting them along the way. If the deadline is Friday and that set needs to painted until 3 am and you need someone to get it done, make sure that you are painting with your team not just telling them to do it.

  3. Allow others to lead: As someone who is extremely type A, I understand the desire to just go in and do things yourself, especially when things go not according to planned. However, it is important to stop yourself and allow others to lead as well. You wouldn’t have got to this position of leadership if you didn’t learn from your own mistakes, so encourage your team to embrace challenges. Often your team will come to your for advice on how to deal with this challenge, instead of doing it yourself, give them the skills to allow them to grow as a leader.

  4. Make a plan, and then make plan B: Don’t get me wrong, it is important to make a plan (trust me, if I didn’t like plans my google calendar won’t look like it was about to explode), but it is important to have backup plans too. You can’t predict what is going to happen at every instance but what you can do is when the original plan doesn’t work, look at why it didn’t work, and figure out how to make plan B even better. Everything we do is a learning opportunity and this includes when things don’t go according to your plan.

  5. You never know the impact you are making until you’ve made it: I have found that in my time as my time as an RA, that there is no mold for the perfect RA or leader, which was a hard realization for me. But, realizing it was one of the most transformative moments of my college career, because I then understood that my residents didn’t need the perfect RA – they needed me to be the best RA that I could be. And more than anything I learned that you can never know how important the impact you are making, especially when you least expect it. So many times I have had conversations with residents that turned into, “when you smiled at me it really helped” or, “that night you talked to me for an hour was exactly what I needed” or, “you are my role model for everything I see you doing.” These moments were ones I didn’t even think twice about. Being genuine about why you are doing something and the impact that makes is a beautiful form of leadership.

  6. Most importantly, if you work really hard, and love what you do, those around you will see it, and they will respect you that much more for it. That hard work and respect will get things done, but more than crossing things off your to do list, it will give you amazing friends, amazing skills, and an amazing college experience.

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1395923_2175836278838_844560418_nMeghan King is a senior double majoring in History and Women and Gender Studies and is also in the accelerated 5 year masters program for Social Studies Education (K-12) at the Graduate School of Education. Meghan serves as a Resident Assistant in Jameson Residence Hall, Producer of Cabaret Theatre, Intern at the Office of Leadership & Training, a member of the National Residence Hall Honorary, and a member of the Douglass Residential College Senior Class Council.

Sheep Can Roar Too: The Leader within the Introvert

By: Chris Price

Sheep give off a certain impression as being moderately unintelligent and timid in the midst of other animals. As you can imagine, sheep are seldom viewed as leaders of the animal kingdom, opposed to lions, which are widely perceived as being leader-like and courageous, and rightfully so. Still, there is something about sheep that makes them leaders in their own right. Some sheep have problem-solving abilities and their various vocalizations signal when danger is nearing. Sheep have abilities of their own, including the ability to lead, just like a lion, no matter how quiet they may appear.

Throughout my time as a leader in the Rutgers community, I have learned that leadership is not solely for those who are the loudest, bravest, and most extroverted. In fact, such characteristics do not necessarily equate to effective leadership at all. Instead, with confidence, support, and guidance, the most introverted of students can lead in great capacities! Thanks to my various support systems, I, as an introvert, have been able to hold office positions in my halls’ Residence Hall Associations my first and sophomore years and be an Orientation Leader.

The difference between an extrovert and an introvert is the way in which each person receives his or her energy to succeed and complete tasks. Extroverts get their energy by being around others, whereas introverts need more alone time to gather their own thoughts, relax, and self-reflect. Both kinds of personalities can lead to productive leadership. However, very often, students feel as though being an introvert means that they cannot be a leader, and that is false.

While I highly enjoy being around others, I identify with being an introverted individual. As many introverts cannot attest to, I cherish my time that I have to myself, and after I have that time, I feel rejuvenated to do well academically, socially with my friends, and in my leadership endeavors. Coming off as quiet or reserved has actually helped me in my leadership experiences. I have learned that I can be relatable and genuine by being my introverted self. In my experience as an Orientation Leader, I have connected with students who are also very introverted and given them the sight that they too can be leaders. Incoming students appreciate when they can connect with a leader of the university who is not overly energetic or always looking for a spotlight, so do not feel as though you need to change if you are an introvert. Effective leadership is about purpose and fulfilling that purpose with authenticity. People will follow your leadership because of who you genuinely are, not for a false impression of a leader.

All in all, introverts can most definitely be leaders! Keeping a few things in mind, all introverts can bring out the leader within themselves…

1. Be Yourself:

Introverts rock, so never change! People will find you relatable and personable when you embrace yourself as an introvert. You’ll find out that you are not the only one who identifies with this personality type, so you may just inspire someone else.

2. Never fear discomfort:

As an introvert, stepping up as a leader may come with certain insecurities and overwhelming, new experiences. Do not stray from situations that make you feel uncomfortable. Even extroverts experience those discomforts. Be willing to learn from such cases, and soon discomfort will feel comfortable!

3. Roar:

Be heard! You have a voice, no matter how introverted you maybe! Use it. Your input can possibly ameliorate a circumstance for an organization that you are a leader in. Also, you are given leadership positions for a reason; use it to make a difference!

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hi im your raChris Price is a junior in the School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program, majoring in English with a minor in Music. He serves as a Resident Assistant in Brett Hall on the College Avenue Campus, an Orientation Team Leader for New Student Orientation and Family Programs, and a company member of both Cabaret Theatre and The Livingston Theatre Company.