LeaderShape– By Allison Thompson
This past summer, Nicole Blahut (Cohort 20) and I were blessed with the opportunity to represent QUEST at LeaderShape National Session 3 in Champaign, Illinois. Since I have returned, my LeaderShape experience has become a large part of everything I say and do. When others ask me about how it went or what I did, all I can seem to get out is that it was truly one of the best weeks of my life. For six days, we were surrounded by student leaders from all over the country and given the opportunity to learn what it truly means to lead with integrity and a healthy disregard for the impossible. Through learning about our individual personalities, leadership styles, and personal core ethics as well as what it truly takes to be a respected, impactful leader, we created individual visions on how we want to have lasting, positive impacts on the world (as well as short term goals to help us start our individual journeys). Perhaps the most phenomenal part of the experience was the community of diverse, passionate student leaders. Not only would they return home to outstanding leadership positions, but they honestly gave us a support system – a community full of driven individuals who want to create a better world and who want to see us do the same. Overall, LeaderShape was an incredible experience, and I truly believe it has changed Nicole and me for the better. When asked what I did this summer, I get to answer that I learned what it means to lead with integrity and a healthy disregard for the impossible. I learned that being a leader is different than being a manager – that being a leader does not depend on status or position. It depends on you. When we left the session, we were all given pebbles – small, beautiful, unique stones with the ability to create gigantic ripples – to remind us all that we are capable of far more than we could ever imagine. I have been changed for the better, and I’m armed with a vision ready to take on the world.