Two years ago, I entered Virginia Tech as a freshman, completely unprepared for what was ahead of me. Now, two years later, I feel more prepared and confident.
While much of this confidence came as I adjusted to college, most of it came from my leadership training during my freshman and sophomore years.
I came from a small high school of about 500 students, where attaining and managing a leadership role was not very difficult. But when I came to a school with a driven, competitive student population of nearly 30,000, I quickly discovered becoming a leader would not be as easy as it was in high school.
However, after becoming involved with Tech’s student leadership programs, I was quickly able to develop my leadership skills and reach my full potential as a student.
During my freshman year, I was a student in the Residential Leadership Community, a freshman living-learning community located in Peddrew-Yates Hall. During my time in the RLC, I took leadership courses and interacted with other motivated freshmen.
While I did not really appreciate my leadership classes as a freshman, I have found many of the skills I acquired from those courses have been pivotal to my success as a Tech student.
In those courses, I learned how to manage time, set goals and manage group work effectively. In addition, I learned different methods of motivating others. While these skills seemed straightforward at first, now that I’ve taken on leadership roles at Tech I’ve found these skills are extremely useful to overcome difficult obstacles leaders regularly face.
Last school year, I returned to the RLC as a peer leader. During my time as a PL, I managed group projects and helped freshmen adjust to college. It was during my role as a group project manager I realized the usefulness of my leadership courses and having different strategies to motivate the students and help them navigate through the difficulties that come with group projects.
Now, as an opinions editor for the Collegiate Times, I am using leadership skills more than ever. I have to manage a group of writers, help them improve their writing and motivate them to write good columns and meet deadlines. I would not be able to manage this daunting task had I not refined my leadership skills during the past two years.
While I spent much of the time involved with Tech’s leadership programs wondering how I would apply this knowledge to real-life situations, I now realize the importance of learning effective leadership skills and strategies and being able to apply them. I was able to use Tech’s leadership programs as a launch pad for a successful career here at Tech, and if I had not been involved with leadership my freshman year, I would not be where I am today.
Now, I am at the point during my college career where I can appreciate where leadership has gotten me, and I encourage you to get involved with leadership in any way you can. Leadership has given me some great and unforgettable experiences during my college career, and I would like everyone at Tech to be able to have the same great experience I have had.
While it is too late for current students to join the RLC, since it is a freshman program, there are many other opportunities to get involved with Tech’s leadership programs.
You can get involved academically by applying for the leadership and social change, or business leadership minors. You can take on leadership roles in student organizations. You can get involved with community service opportunities like Relay for Life and the Big Event. And you can join student leadership programs like Leadership Tech and attend leadership conferences like the Stepping Into Leadership conference held during the spring semester.
There are many great opportunities at Tech to improve your leadership skills and reach your full potential as a Hokie — all you have to do is find the right program for you.
Leadership has been a pivotal and transformational experience during my time at Virginia Tech and has prepared me for a successful career. And once you begin exploring the opportunities that await you at Tech, I believe you will find leadership can be a great experience for you too.