By: Felise Ortiz
As Founder and President of Douglass D.I.V.A.S., a women’s empowerment organization on campus, I have witnessed how being a student leader can transform one’s college experience. My greatest lessons in college have been outside of the classroom. I have learned them with my peers in leading, laughing, and losing my mind while creating our organization. My experiences as a student leader, mentor, and Resident Assistant have not only shaped my thinking but have also inspired my lifelong commitment to public service.
In order to be a successful student leader you must claim your inner diva! You, believe it or not, have a DETERMINED, INNOVATIVE, VIVACIOUS, and ARTICULATE student leader inside of you waiting to emerge. Now, let’s be clear, everyone (not only women) can benefit from claiming their inner diva. Claiming your inner diva means to be your own advocate…your own PR… your own Olivia Pope (if you catch my drift)! Master the four key components below and you will be on your way to being a dynamic student leader…
Determined: One of the greatest pieces of advice I have ever received was to “let nothing deter you from the relentless pursuit of YOUR joy.” I believe that this is the foundation of determination. Be relentless. Pursue YOUR joy without reservation. It is likely that your goals will change and your dreams may be deferred. You may enter college chasing one dream and leave out of breath after chasing five…IT IS OK! Whatever your joy or passion is at the moment, pursue it now, do not wait and do not be discouraged if it changes.
Innovative: Think BIG! Do not put a cap on your ideas. If your vision or goal does not seem feasible in the immediate future, do not scrap everything. Create a strategic plan: a step-by-step outline with attainable deadlines. Also do not be afraid to call in others for help. Pitching an idea to a variety of people will not only provide multiple perspectives but it will also strengthen your confidence in the idea.
Vivacious: You need to be enthusiastic, vibrant, spirited, and effervescent. Now, of course, not all of us can be this way all the time. However, when you are in a leadership position others feed off of your energy. If you are dull or indifferent, the group will be the same way. Energy is contagious. Enthusiasm is infectious. If you have to, fake it until you make it. Of course it is ideal if your excitement is genuine. If you find yourself consistently unenthused about a project or organization you may need to take moment to reevaluate why you are involved. Your attitude, whether it is positive or negative, will always influence the projected outcome.
Articulate: Words mean things! I know it sounds simple but it is truly a revolutionary idea, especially in our day in age. I am sure you have often heard the phrase, “use your words wisely.” This is an important sentiment. A dynamic leader is able to get their point across in an effective and timely manner. It is imperative that you are able to give a pitch about your leadership position or idea. A pitch or “elevator speech” is a quick, 30-seconds or less explanation. It must be clear, concise and provide a reason for why the person listening should care. You can use events on campus, introductions at group meetings, office hours with professors, even potential date nights as opportunities to practice your pitch.
Felise Ortiz is a senior, double majoring in Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies with a minor in Spanish. She is the Founder and President of Douglass D.I.V.A.S. and serves as a Resident Assistant in Jameson Residence Hall. Felise is also an Institute for Women’s Leadership Scholar as well as an Eagleton Institute of Politics Undergraduate Associate.