“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”

Image 1Many things happen in life that you don’t necessarily plan for. My story is a cliché one; something that sounds like it came out of a Hollywood movie plot. I was the quiet girl in high school, who sometimes spoke up during class, but would rather keep to herself and her friends. I wanted to take on leadership roles, but I didn’t know how. It didn’t seem like it’d be easy, either. But since I’m writing this post now, I guess you could say I somehow got from where I was three years ago to where I am now.

But I didn’t get there by pixie dust. In fact, there was a lot more faith and trust (sorry, Tink). When picking the college that I would call home for the next four years, I made a conscious decision to go to Rutgers for multiple reasons, but one of them was to branch out and force myself out of my comfort zone. I had known the same groups of friends for so long; it was time to see what else was out there.


image2From the start, I joined multiple organizations and put my on the email listserv for every organization I would be remotely interested in at the Fall Involvement Fair. I had no idea what I  was doing, but I have this theory: when you find your passion, something clicks. Instead of the saying “time flies when you’re having fun,” maybe it should be “time flies when you find your passion.”



It’s usually easier to start in organizations in your first year, fall semester. I joined the Scarlet Ambassador team (tour guides for Rutgers University) and the Douglass Orientation Committee from the start, and being surrounded by leaders who had developed their leadership style already, fostered an incredible growing process that gave me an informal cohort to experience leadership with for the first time, I was able to see the accomplishments that I could aim for and potentially reach.


Even so, the first year doesn’t hold all of the keys to leadership. It is never too late. Even if you don’t start in the beginning of your first year, fall semester, on the first day of classes, that doesn’t mean you can’t join. I joined the Rutgers chapter of She’s the First for one meeting, and then could not keep up with it for the rest of the semester. When news about the organization popped up on my newsfeed, I decided to give it a try again. And now, here I am, currently holding an e-board position as treasurer, having only been in the chapter for one full semester.

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I don’t want to say that leadership gets easier, but finding opportunities to exercise leadership start appearing all over, as you continually develop your own style. I still have so much to learn, but keeping an open mind has opened many opportunities that I would have never considered, previously.

image 7I think that everyone has a different leadership style. The thing is, you cannot find it unless you actively go out and search for it. There is no instruction manual for leadership. Put yourself in slightly uncomfortable situations, and see where they take you. Before long, you’re sailing, flying (Titanic movie reference), on your very own, custom built, leader-ship.


“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

-Neale Donald Walsch


Kristen's Headshot
Kristen Huang is a junior in the School of Arts and Sciences, double majoring in Math and Psychology. She is currently involved in seven different organizations, including being a Commuter PAL for DRC, a manager for the DRC Media Team, treasurer for She’s the First*{Rutgers}, and Communications Co-Chair for the RUAA Scarlet Council. She loves polaroid photography, flannel shirts, and daydreams of traveling the world. You can find her blog at kfhua.com.

10 Things Getting Involved in Leadership Can Give You Your Senior Year

By: Meghan King 

Anyone who knows me knows that I really love Leadership & Training. Getting involved in the Office of Leadership & Training my last year at Rutgers was the smartest decision I made for my professional trajectory, for my personal growth, and for my own happiness. In undergrad it made me a better student organization president, RA, and Site Leader and I am still seeing the effects of my experience with Leadership after graduation as a grad student, future teacher, and human being. So I am telling you that you really should get involved.

This is me with some awesome student leaders having fun because we are involved!

But, you don’t have to just take it from me. I asked 10 recent grad’s what they gained their senior year from getting involved in Leadership & Training. Here’s what they said and what YOU can get from getting involved this coming year.

1. Mentors 

In my final year at Rutgers, I wanted to get as involved as possible, as well as network with new people. Throughout my experiences with Leadership and Training, I was not only able to do both of those, but go out and make a direct impact on peoples lives in the community. I was not only able to go and become a mentor for students who felt lost, but I also gained lifelong friends and mentors of my own, who I am truly grateful for. I have done a lot of various programs through my college career, but getting involved with Leadership and Training was the best decision I made by far.  – Shawn Smith, Journalism/Anthropology

2. Motivation 

Working with the leadership and training team gave me the confidence and motivation I needed to really excel as a leader. I learned to trust my instincts when discussing new ideas. Today, I  use the feedback I received from my superiors to push my passion for leadership and new ideas further into development. – Michelle Hartmann, Landscape Architecture


Last years Staff/Site Leaders on the Leadership Alternative Break in Washington, DC. Shawn, Jenn, Gina, Amanda, and myself all in this picture AND in this blog post talking about our love for Leadership & Training!

3. Resources

Getting involved in Leadership & Training’s Backpack to Briefcase program was essential for me. Learning how to negotiate with landlords, the language with which to communicate your interest and wishes, and the knowledge of what to ask ensured that I was able to make my transition out of my parent’s house a smooth one. I’ve seen too many of my friends saddled with bad leases and have to pay too much for bad situations, and the Backpack to Briefcase program gave me the resources to understand how to make my own life transition in a healthy and safe way. – Erik Stratton, Theater Arts/English

4. Experience

Being a part of the Leadership team helped me to add more experience to my resume that would be relevant in whatever industry I decided to go into. Having the ability to lead a group helped me to become a better employee for my future employers and helped me to be a more well rounded candidate on my resume as well. – Amanda Seaman, Journalism/Computer Science

5. Confidence

My time at Leadership and Training taught me confidence in a challenging yet rewarding environment. As the facilitator of Pop Up Leadership, my job was to interact with students in the student centers on a weekly basis, educating them about leadership and furthering the message of our office. This responsibility brings with it the pressure of communicating in an effective manner, which over the course of my senior year has grown my confidence substantially. – Luke Modzier, Exercize Science and Sports Studies

Look how confident Luke is! Look at all those traits you can gain and will still use in 5 years!

Look how confident Luke is! Look at all those traits you can gain and will still use in 5 years!

6. Inspiration

I was truly inspired to become a part of Leadership and Training because I wanted to give meaning to my involvement at Rutgers University. Leadership and Training allowed me to develop the skills I needed to become not only a student leader but a professional on campus by understanding team dynamics and my personal strengths. My inspiration to be successful and dedicated came from Rutgers Leaders and now myself have become that inspiration for others. – Amanda Sedlmayer, Planning and Public Policy/Education

7. Determination

During my time as an intern at Leadership and Training, I was finally pushed for the first time to truly grow as a person, not just as a scholar. I had been challenged academically before, but my time at Leadership Central made me step out of my comfort zone as a student and taught me to approach anyone, at anytime. Leaders cannot give excuses for things not being done because the buck stops there. At Leadership and Training, I was pushed to recognize this fact and develop the determination to get the job done, and done well as a leader must. – Allison Zabady, Political Science/Criminology

8. Purpose 

Rutgers Leadership & Training assisted in my growth as not only a professional speaker but as a human being. To trust in individuals potential, preparing them, and lastly, challenging them when they believe they have had enough, is the purpose of Leadership & Training. I would not be where I stand today if it were not for Robyn Ginese and the Rutgers Leadership & Training team. They all saw through my doubts and made me believe in myself. – Alyea Pierce, Communications/English/Latino and Hispanic, Caribbean Studies

Alyea was our Mark Conference emcee from last year!

Alyea was our Mark Conference emcee from last year!

9. Perspective 

While working with the Office of Leadership and Training my senior year, I accompanied 40 first year students on an alternative break to Washington D.C. to work with the issue of hunger and homelessness. As a leadership mentor, I was able to facilitate activities on themes such as privilege and assumption while connecting these topics to the larger issues we were working with. This opportunity gave me a greater perspective on different lifestyles, opinions, and awareness as well as a new found gratitude for them. In addition, I learned about my personal abilities as a leader from this simply inspiring experience. – Gina Sesta, American Studies/History/Anthropology

10. Direction

I absolutely loved academics in college, and being a Women’s and Gender Studies major inspired me every day, but having a passion wasn’t enough; I found myself overwhelmed with all the different directions I could take my life post-graduation. As soon as I got involved with Leadership and Training, I let my fun—yet extremely meaningful—extracurricular activities help guide me to my path towards Student Affairs, and I never looked back. Getting involved my Senior Year allowed me the opportunity to realize that sometimes the direction for your passion may evolve not from the work you do in class, but from the students you’ll work with, and the organizations that captivate your heart. – Jennifer Osolinski, Women’s and Gender Studies/Social Justice

If that isn’t reason enough to get involved in Leadership & Training, I don’t know what is! If you have any questions about getting involved email us at lead@echo.rutgers.edu, connect with us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter. We want you to graduate from Rutgers as the most successful person you can be, so let us help you do that. I promise you, you won’t regret it.

So what R U waiting for?


1395923_2175836278838_844560418_nMeghan King is a Master of Education candidate at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education with concentrations in Social Studies (K-12) and Urban Education. She is also the Summer Intern for the Office of Leadership & Training and the Site Coordinator for Camp UKnight. Meghan is an alumna of Rutgers University and Douglass Residential College (Class of 2014) where she double majored in History and Women’s and Gender Studies. In undergrad, she was an RA on the Cook/Douglass campus, Producer of Cabaret Theatre, and Site Leader for Alternative Breaks.

The 8 Most Important Things to do the Summer Before Your Senior Year

By: Meghan King

When I think back to my summer before senior year, there were some very important things that I did to prepare for this life-changing phase. Here is my advice for what you should be doing this summer to get ready for your senior year.

  1. Intern somewhere and learn something. Interning the summer before senior year was very important to my success as a senior. It enabled me to have a professional experience that propelled me with confidence into this “adulthood” thing that started after graduation. By embracing that opportunity, I learned more about myself as a result. Senior year is crunch time for honing in on your passions and making sure that you have a good idea of what you want to do after graduation – grad school, employment, volunteer service, etc. But most importantly, by learning something at my internship, I was able to open doors for my senior year that helped me really understand what my next move was going to be.


    Some of the wonderful people from my internship last year at the Office of Leadership & Training!

  2. Do some research. What does that mean? You’re going to have to make some big decisions about your future soon. So look up the graduate programs in your major, figure out what apartment hunting may look like, find out what jobs could be available to you with your major and experience, figure out what cities have opportunities you’d be interested in and that you can afford to live in. If you don’t know your options, how do you know you have them?
  3. Live in the moment. Take pictures, go on day trips, go to the beach, and watch Netflix. This is really important. It is important to embrace this summer because it may be the last summer that doesn’t involve a full time job. So take pictures of your beautiful friends and sleep in…within reason.


    Embrace this time with your friends! Soon you’ll be taking a similar picture at graduation.

  4. Try to save up some money. Things next year can get pretty expensive, or add up. Your class work or trying to find time for all of the leadership positions you now have because you are a senior may mean less hours at your job than you usually have. So try and use this summer to give yourself a cushion so this isn’t as big of a deal later down the road and you can really embrace this time.
  5. Look for programs on campus to help you! The Office of Leadership has a Backpack to Briefcase program that’s whole purpose is to help the transition post-graduation. This program has information about apartment hunting, the job search, cooking a real meal (no, not ramen noodles), budgeting, and more. Besides, actually doing the research for these programs helped me a ton senior year – so I know that you will gain something for going when the year starts. There are a lot of programs similar to this at Rutgers, so the summer before your senior year, decide that you are going to attend them once you get back to campus.
  6. Do not read those “after senior year your life ends” articles. Or read them, that’s fine. But don’t let that negativity ruin this time in your life. Senior year is about making it count and embracing all of things in college you loved and then finding your footing afterwards. Dreading the end of it is not helpful, I’d like to put another narrative out there. Embrace this time, and then embrace it ending. It’s going to be okay.
  7. Talk to your mentors and role models. The summer before senior year I spoke with my mentors and this allowed me to really get a good idea of how I wanted my senior year to go. I talked to everyone from my boss at my internship, my hall directors from when I was an RA, the president of my student org before me, and my younger sister. These people that can serve as a bouncing board to your ideas and guiding lights when you are lost are invaluable.
  8. Embrace the questions. You are going to go through phases with this. Get ready for everyone to ask you “how’s it feel to be a senior?” Or the famous “what are you doing after graduation?” And it would not surprise me if that already started. Not knowing how you feel about it is perfectly normally. Take the time to figure it out, and embrace the unknown. I am the most “planning” oriented person in the world, but part of growing up is figuring out that it is okay to not know what is coming next.

Be proactive, take charge of your own future, and embrace this incredible time in your life, and you will be just fine. Congrats Class of 2015 – you are seniors!


1395923_2175836278838_844560418_nMeghan King is a Master of Education candidate at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education with concentrations in Social Studies (K-12) and Urban Education. She is also the Summer Intern for the Office of Leadership & Training and the Site Coordinator for Camp UKnight. Meghan is an alumna of Rutgers University and Douglass Residential College (Class of 2014). In undergrad, she was an RA on the Cook/Douglass campus, Producer of Cabaret Theatre, and Site Leader for Alternative Breaks.