by Sam Ruth – First Year Experience Communications Manager
What is leadership? According to John Maxwell, a Christian pastor and public speaker, “Leadership is influence.” Influence is the power you have to move a group of people, not physically, but abstractly. When your actions, demeanor, or attitude signal others to act, you have influence over them; this means that no matter how you feel about it, sophomores, you are the leaders here. At Hesston College, sophomores are the influence. In the dining hall, the CAC, or chapel, sophomores set the tone by leading and teaching what is expected.
There are examples of sophomore leadership at every turn at Hesston College. The RAs work hard to make sure everyone is comfortable and has a safe environment within which to grow. Many clubs and organizations on campus have sophomores at the helm including writing fellows, Student Advisory Committee, and Campus Activities Board. This creates an atmosphere that is conductive to Hesston College’s mission to educate and nurture each student within a Christ-centered community, integrating thought, life, and faith for service to others in the church and the world.
As sophomores at a two year college, we are uniquely positioned to lead. Although most of the sophomores are only 19 years old and have little more life experience than a freshman, we lead. This is what makes Hesston so special. Despite the minor difference in age and character, the sophomores provide valuable leadership they may not be ready to show.
As a sophomore, it’s easy to forget the impact that we have on campus. Sophomores pass on the traditions of Hesston College: chants at the basketball games, clapping when someone breaks a dish in the dining hall, and Erb moon. Hesston College may inform the perspective students about Drubers and Newell’s, but it is the sophomores that organize the trips to Newton. The influence of sophomores creates the open community that Hesston College strives for by helping to teach new students how to be a part of a community. With college being so much different from high school, it is important that there be a strong, steady leadership from upperclassmen to maintain the traditions of the institution.
Despite the culture of sophomore excellence on campus, it’s easy to forget that there is one area that desperately needs more leaders: academics. The influence of sophomores in this area is invaluable. The sophomores should be willing and excited to show their younger classmates how to be good students and community members. There seems to be an attitude of “this isn’t fair” in our generation. Students believe the chapel requirements are unfair or the open house hours are to strict, but I would challenge anyone to find a more open, accepting community that goes above and beyond for each student like Hesston College does. The power of influence is an obligation to follow the rules and support the institution that supports us so much.
Allow me to make a few suggestions on where we might start to lead academic conversations:
Go to symposium, attend forums and don’t forget to ask thoughtfully engaged questions.
Next time you’re thinking about being the big, bad, sophomore that you are, encourage your friends to go to class, and lead by example. True leadership is influence and as we approach the end of the semester, perhaps we all need to be reminded that we are here for an education.
Being engaged in the community by showing academic leadership is the best way to help our community.