Written by Alexis Sharp ('21)
When I thought about what I was going to discuss during the Cavalier Leadership Recognition Ceremony, I had no idea what I would say to make an impactful speech. I thought what I can say to all the leaders standing before me that could inspire them to continue making a difference and impacting so many people’s lives?
So, I did what anyone would do nowadays. I Googled "leadership speeches to inspire people." The first thing that came up was the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Merriam Webster defines leadership as “the capacity to lead.” I was always taught not to define a word with the word itself, so that was no help.
So, I did what anyone would do in the 21st century. I went to YouTube, and that is where I found my inspiration.
I'm going to speak as a future educator and how I will define leadership to my students.
"We all know the definition of a leader is a very open topic and can be defined in many ways. We all have our own definitions because we are all leaders. I truly believe a leader is someone who can make a change, no matter how big or small. In my opinion, some common traits of a leader are determination, passion, goals, collaboration, and communication skills. Great leaders have a remarkable impact on all lives they encounter.
I want my future students to hear the wise words by Michelle Obama, “Don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered.”
I have realized that I might not be the next famous poet, musician, athlete, or actress, but if I can make a direct influence on those around me, then I am needed.
Cabrini’s motto “live with purpose” has helped guide me on my educational and leadership journey. As a proud senior, I am so appreciative of the wonderful professors, faculty, staff member, coaches, and administration who saw the leadership abilities within me and helped me to succeed.
I remember walking onto the campus as an official Cavalier, absolutely terrified because I did not know how to navigate this big, new world. I had no idea what to expect. If you had told me that, I would be president of Delta Xi Phi Multi-Cultural Sorority, a Student Ambassador, Cabrini Cheerleader, Navigate Leader, Cabrini Royalty, and a member of three different honors societies, I would have laughed hysterically.
I’m sure we all see how normal it is to be a part of multiple organizations. I don’t believe students from many other colleges can say that.
I am beyond lucky to say Cabrini makes it so accessible to be a leader. At my freshman orientation, I remember hearing student organization leaders advising us to try new things and join all different clubs. I said to myself, “Yeah, right, I'm just going to focus on classes and making friends.”
It was that short but simple statement that left a mark on my journey. I pushed outside my comfort zone quickly.
Cabrini truly lays the foundation for that push. There is an unbelievable number of clubs, organizations, programs, and lots of emails that present those leadership opportunities. College is hard work, and sometimes being a part of extra-curricular activities can be stressful.
I could not imagine having to practice as an athlete and then do stacks of schoolwork or working on CAP board events until 1am, especially during a pandemic. Those of you before me have accomplished and exceeded at this -- and so much more.
I hope that if you take something away from this speech, it is that everyone is capable of being a leader. You all have amazing and unique qualities within yourself. It can be hard sometimes to pat yourself on the back, I know it is for me, but your hard work and dedication should be recognized. I know each of you is going to make the world a better place!
As I already said, everyone is a leader. As a leader, please remember these 5 principles.
- Be the kind of leader you want to have in the world
- Try new things to make that push out of your comfort zone
- Always strive to make a positive impact on those around you
- Live with purpose
- Go Cavs!