My first few weeks as a student at EKU, I did the maximum amount of smiling humanly possible and very little speaking. To me, all of this smiling said, “I’m a nice, outgoing person. Let’s be friends!” Those who would eventually become my friends, I have been told, thought something more along the lines of “Who is this silent person smiling like a maniac?” I was overwhelmed by starting college and so I spent most of my time soaking it in. Quietly. But looking back at the person I was when I started attending Eastern, someone who was content to do more smiling than speaking, reminds me just how much my Eastern at experience changed me for the better. Because of Eastern, I transformed.
I had a rich experience at Eastern, but If I had to identify one thing that helped me grow into a more confident person, I can easily say that it was participating in the Student Government Association. I ran in elections Freshman year, passing out Jolly Ranchers and asking passersby for votes, and soon found myself sitting on the Student Senate. I can remember the first time I was assigned a project on Senate, midway through my Freshman year: I was to write a committee report on student judicial sanctions. I was determined to do the job right. And it was with that first assignment that I realized that not only did my peers genuinely care what I had to say, but so did the administration at Eastern. I stayed in Student Senate during my whole tenure as an Eastern student, becoming first a committee chair, and then later putting in two terms as the Executive Vice President. During that time, I found my voice. I grew into a leader.
Of course I could pinpoint individuals from Eastern who have made an enormous difference in my life, individuals who have helped to make Eastern truly special. But moreover, I believe that part of what makes Eastern a place that fosters student leadership is the institutional culture. Students are offered a seat at the table. They are allowed meaningful opportunities for leadership and participation, presented with challenges, and met with high expectations.
I know first hand what the opportunities at Eastern can do to help a student develop into a leader. That’s why I am so intent on supporting future generations of female leaders at EKU through the Eastern Further Women’s Leadership Scholarship. I hope that you decide to donate if you can. Just imagine the difference it could make.
Speaking at SGA Banquet, 2009