Q: As you reflect on your time in the PLA, how have you grown and how has the academy impacted you personally?
A: Coming into the PLA as a sophomore, I really didn’t have a grasp on what it meant to be a strong leader. I had been in leadership positions in high school, but never ones that really required me to make tough decisions or take a stand in difficult situations. I didn’t feel as though I had the leadership toolkit I would need if I were to be put in a position that forced me to face these challenges. However, the three years that I spent in the academy have allowed me to build that leadership toolkit. After interacting with so many diverse viewpoints coming from the members of my class when we discussed controversial topics, I learned about how important it is to stand your ground when it comes to something that you believe strongly in. I have always been a non-confrontational person, so I tended to avoid speaking up during controversial situations so as not to go against varying viewpoints. But now, because the PLA has made me grow so much in my confidence, I understand that part of being a good leader means staying true to what is important to you. People respect commitment to values and beliefs; I have learned this intimately because I respect so much the members of the academy who hold firm to these values and beliefs. That’s not to say that other viewpoints and opinions should be taken into consideration, because that is a highly significant aspect of leadership, as well. But I have learned from the PLA that being a leader is a combination of being confident and strong in your decisions, while also understanding that most issues have a “grey area” that is necessary to examine.
Q: How would you describe your leadership style? Is it the same concept of your leadership style when you applied and if not, how has your leadership style changed?
A: I would describe my leadership style as influential yet adaptive. In the leadership roles that I have taken on at Penn State since joining the PLA, I have found that this style works best for me and it is a style that people respond well to. Being both influential and adaptive allows me to both have a sense of responsibility yet approachability – those who are looking to me as a leader can trust that I am doing my job correctly and delegating when necessary, yet I am not so firm in my ways that they cannot come to me with suggestions or feedback. When I entered the academy, I didn’t have a defined leadership style. Over the years and through many interactions with leaders – some who I thought were successful, and some who I thought needed improvement – I have grown into a style that I believe helps others learn and grow while I simultaneously learn and grow myself.
Q: If you had to set the class schedule for Honor 201 (the President’s class) which topics would you discuss and why? How would you lay out the semester?
A: I don’t have many complaints regarding the way my HONOR 201 class was laid out. I felt like it had an effective combination of longstanding issues as well as current events that came up throughout the semester. One topic that I believe was very important to discuss was free speech. This is a longstanding issue that has implications for students and faculty every single semester, and it was very fascinating to hear about what my classmates had to say about the topic. Another topic that was especially timely when we discussed it in our 201 class was Greek Life. This is another subject that I feel like is constantly in the news, and as college students ourselves, I know it is valuable for President Barron to hear our takes on the issues.
Q: Please provide and evaluation of Honor 401 class. What did you like, not like and what would you suggest for next semester?
A: I really enjoyed having a wide variety of guest speakers in the HONOR 401 classes that I took. It kept the classes fresh and I always appreciate listening to new perspectives. I took two HONOR 401 classes – one focusing on Abraham Lincoln and another focusing generally on leadership and ethical decision-making. I preferred the ethical decision-making class because it didn’t get redundant at all. For future semesters, I would suggest continuing to bring in as many diverse speakers as possible and perhaps focus more on discussing current events that affect Penn State’s campus.