We are very excited to share this year’s Azazie Scholarship winner! We are proud to invest in the future by awarding scholarships to passionate students who are committed to serving their community. Thank you to all of you who participated and submitted your stories and answers to “Do you consider yourself to be a leader? Why or why not?” See below for the winning submission!
“Growing up with a loud, gregarious older brother who never ran out of tricks to entertain, made it harder to command attention from others. This is what my childhood definition of what a leader was; someone who just talked very loudly, told people what to do, and was good at everything. My brother, Matthew, seemed to have this down completely with no problem. My naturally shy, unbothered temperament was a setback, and in my mind, I would never ever be this definition of a leader.
But of course, as one grows, perceptions of ideas do, and I realized a leader was now something new. Growing into my middle school years, in my a head, I now thought of a leader was someone who made lists in their sleep, organized big events, had at least a six figure salary, and had assistants that had assistants. A leader was someone like Steve Jobs, someone with money, power and influence. Looking at my 7th grade transcript riddled with B’s and C’s, I found it difficult to spot any similarities between myself and a world of leadership. At the end of the year, student council elections made it clear that my classmates preferred the opposing party, leaving me to discover that I was simply less likable and not ‘leadership’ material.
Once again, my definition of a leader evolved. I now understand that a leader is someone who listens to others with genuine care and concern, is selfless and caring for what they do and the people with them, and has the courage to be a voice for these people that they care for. I realize that a leader is not limited to any specific field, gender, or even report card. As long as you truly care about people and a purpose, so much so that you look past the fear of speaking out, you are a leader. Sometimes I get nervous when I have to talk in front of a crowd, or lead a discussion, or even make appointments over the phone with a receptionist. I used to believe that qualities of being ‘shy’ and more reserved were what hindered me from being a leader. However, I’ve come to realize that those things have little to do who should be deemed fit or unfit for the crown of leadership.
Years ago, when I joined my school’s earth club, I never thought that I would become the club president. I just liked being there. I cared about the causes we raised money for, I enjoyed coming up with ideas for fun events, and I really, truly just loved the people that I did these things with. It was a nice escape from the ups and downs of life, and it allowed me to make a change in the world for something I cared deeply about. It hurt and upset me to see the earth being polluted and damaged, so my immediate response was to turn my thumb green and start making a change with the resources I had. Each year I learned more about the issues that surfaced that individual club members expressed: Bees are dying? We launched a lollipop fundraiser for the honeybee conservancy. The power sources our school used were not good for the environment? We helped push for solar panels that were eventually installed on the roof. Any particular concern or problem that there was, I couldn’t help but care. Having continuous love for this community of people, it was an exciting day when I was honored as the club’s new president–the new ‘leader.’ It finally hit me that I was a leader. The definition that twisted and warped around in my brain now finally fit what I was experiencing and living, and I could not have been more grateful. Being a leader is the opposite of seeking out shortcuts for yourself and stepping on others. It’s building those people up, and being the person that will listen and care.
My time as the club’s president was rewarding, accomplishing, and invigorating. It made me into a more hardworking, motivated person. I am no longer afraid to seek out roles of governance, and proudly consider myself to be a leader.” -Emily
Interested about applying for our Azazie Scholarship? Click here for more information, and stay tuned for the 2020 Azazie Scholarship announcement!