Making it Right at Wright State University
The topic of leadership was buzzing around at Wright State University in Ohio. In addition to Elect Her, Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK)– the leadership honorary society– was hosting a leadership conference on campus. Students at the conference had the option to opt-in to the Elect Her portion.
At the beginning of the session, most of the women (and the token man of the group!) weren’t familiar with the process of running for student government, but boy- was that about to change!
For me, the highlight of the training was witnessing the participants grow confident in their stump speeches, and more importantly realizing that they had the support of everyone in the room. One young woman brought up the topic of diversity. She stated that the school put great emphasis on having a diverse campus; however, the multi-cultural center was not anywhere close to the center of campus, creating a sense of detachment. Another student exclaimed that she had the same thought and had wanted to bring it up to the administration. A few others piped in, and everyone soon realized that they had the same passion for the topic and wanted to bring about change. I’ve learned that it takes one person to identify a problem, a second to agree, and then a movement follows.
After the current student body president explained the role of student government on campus, encouraging all of the women to run of student government, our fabulous speaker and public servant took the stage. Carolyn Rice has served as Montgomery County Treasurer since her appointment in February 2007, and her path to this position was quite unique. She explained to the students that she had never understood or been interested politics; however, something about the John Kerry campaign moved her to become involved. She was soon viewed as a community organizer and trusted individual, and was asked to run for local office. Unfortunately she did not win that race, but soon thereafter she was asked to be treasurer. Although she had been sought after for the position multiple times, she still didn’t feel qualified—but eventually she was convinced that she was. Her messages were clear: you don’t have to know everything about every topic. You will learn on the job. You may not wake up one day and decided to run; but if people ask you to run for office, it means that they believe in you and you should seriously consider it. If you know someone who would be an excellent leader, tell them to run for office. Her caring nature, attention to detail and genuine character made her an ideal speaker for the session.
Shout out to Malaya Davis, the winner of our campaign simulation! I expect great things from you.
Many of the students came up to me after the program and said the session really opened their eyes to politics and laid it out in a way that could be understood. I’m grateful to have met these young, emerging leaders and can’t wait to see what they achieve.
This post was written by Katie Shorey, Program Director at Clifton Consulting LLC.