Members of the Mock Trial recruitment committee await the start of the org fair. (Photo courtesy Arria Alton)
Members of the Mock Trial recruitment committee await the start of the org fair. (Photo courtesy Arria Alton)

Sophomore Spotlight: Stepping Up

Transitioning to college level leadership

September 15, 2019

(Photo by Emily Gonçalves)

Gold letter balloons hang gracefully in perfect arcs, guiding students to the appropriate section for their interests at the org fair. Walking into the field house a few weeks ago, I remember how I felt attending this event last year. I was a bit nervous and intimidated by all the choices and the confident upperclassmen manning their stands, but also excited to see what there was to offer. This year, instead of browsing through the various clubs present, I was on the other side, doing my best to convince first-years to join the clubs I am a part of. 

Transitioning from a “regular” member of the organizations I was part of as a first-year, to taking on leadership positions in those orgs this year, has been one of the most marked differences in becoming an upperclassman for me. I really enjoyed being “just” a member last year, and being able to take a breather not managing anything. This break from leadership was much appreciated after a rewarding, but extremely busy high school experience running around as the President of several clubs. It was great being served instead of serving, which allowed me to focus on transitioning to college and learn from those older and wiser than me here at Vandy.

Starting in the summer, however, my time in the back seat came to a close and I was once again given the opportunity to step up and take on leadership responsibilities. With multiple exec board meeting calls that lasted hours on end and days spent emailing back and forth with other org leaders over how to best restructure, improve and kick start club activities, my org experience this year has already been a lot different than last year. 

Taking on leadership responsibilities in college has been a tiring, rewarding and a great learning experience thus far. Unlike in high school, most college students only join clubs they actually want to be in and enjoy. This creates a vibe for most orgs on campus that is different from the clubs in high school. I’ve found that the talent, fervor and motivation of club members creates a higher pressure environment for student leaders. Serving your fellow brilliant peers is not an easy task. It’s easy to feel unqualified and tricky to strike the balance between supportive friend and mentor, and making sure tasks get done. 

My experience in leadership in high school helped prepare me for my current roles, but it’s been a transition stepping up to college leadership roles. The number of responsibilities are greater, and there are new types of responsibilities one can have too. For example, one of my responsibilities for my leadership role in Mock Trial includes cold calling attorneys and networking with the Nashville legal community. I would never have had to, or been given the opportunity to, perform similar duties in high school. Being given new, unique duties in college has been a great learning experience for me. I’ve also been able to put into action some of the group organizational skills I’ve learned in my HOD classes, which has made being in those courses more rewarding and applicable. 

With my still limited amount of leadership experience in college, I’m grateful for how I’ve already been able to learn and grow as a leader already. I’m excited to continue to step up in orgs that I care about and believe are worthwhile. I’m looking forward to learning from my experiences leading Hustler Voices section meetings, hosting a Mock Trial Tournament for teams across the country and interacting with peers, faculty and professionals. I’m thankful that I have this opportunity to grow and learn alongside my peers, and am curious to see where it leads. 

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