President’s Leadership Class 2015-2016: The First Transition of a Puerto Rican to ISU & How it Helped Her Grow as a Leader by Laura

28 Nov 2017 9:53 AM

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I would have never imagined that a graduating senior from a Puerto Rican public high school would be in the President’s Leadership Class with the previous President of Iowa State University, Dr. Steven Leath, and his wife, Mrs. Janet Leath. I still remember receiving the acceptance email and the immense joy that it brought to me since I was 1 of 30 students selected from a pool of around 6,000 applicants.

The President’s Leadership Class met every Tuesday from 5:00-6:00 pm at the Knoll to learn about leadership skills, how to prepare and dress for an interview, listen to guests speakers, among other topics. One of the most rewarding experiences of the class was interacting with multiple professionals in different areas of the workforce. Many of the speakers gave us advice on how they built leadership skills within their roles and how we could apply those to our college experience. My favorite quote from all of the speakers came from Dr. Thomas Hill, our previous Senior Vice President for Student Affairs, when he mentioned to us to: “Meet as many people as you can & reinvent yourself because once you step out of your comfort zone, you grow. Embrace diversity beyond race and ethnicity such as thought & geographical location. Take risks and expand your group of friends.”

Another big part of the class was being able to meet and build friendships with 29 other students. I felt honored to be the only Latinx woman in the class and share my leadership experiences as well as share my culture with my fellow peers. I am proud of calling them an extended family and see how they reach new heights as leaders in several campus organizations, internships, and adventures abroad.

Photo of PLC group on Knoll steps with former president, Steven Leath

Members of the President's Leadership Class 2015-2016 with President Steven Leath and his wife, Mrs. Janet Leath.

My advice for others wanting to be involved would be to not be afraid of trying something new. If I would have not checked out a blog entry about this class, I would have never known that it even existed. Just like Dr. Hill said, it is about reinventing yourself and stepping out of your comfort zone in order to grow. It is easy to get used to a routine, but if you don’t get to experience new things, you truly miss out on what life consists about. You can start by taking a small step such as joining a club on campus that interests you or studying abroad and build

Person jumping over rocks.  (text) "Meet as many people as you can and reinvent yourself because once you step out of your comfort zone, you grow."

on from that. However, it is important to manage priorities, be organized, and maintain a balance between self-care, academics, and extracurricular activities once you do decide to get involved. In addition, be aware of the resources that our campus has to offer and use them because you never know when an opportunity may arise.

Thanks to this experience, I became a more confident and well-rounded leader that is able to explore the unknown, value the importance of diversity within teamwork, and utilize leadership skills to their full potential. I can definitely see myself applying what I learned into my future career as a veterinarian since it is a profession heavily based on team effort, networking, and social interactions.

Leadership Callout     Latinx, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences