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Four Years at the Mount

Freshman year

Learning and leading

Sarah Muir
MSM Class of 2018

(2/2015) Leaders are everywhere. Some are hidden in the hectic hustle and bustle of everyday life and others are more present, those who we recognize and identify as leaders. And then there are those who we know to be leaders but we sometimes forget until we look back and realize just what it was they did to show us who we are. I find that I cannot continue to write about leaders without first mentioning the most inspiring leader in my life, my sister. She has always embodied everything I think of when I hear the word "leader." She is strong, determined, encouraging, kind, and able to bring together everything from ideas to people. When someone hears the word "leader," the people who jump to the forefront of most peopleís minds are those who are directly in the limelight, attempting to change or guide their communities through political, religious, or monetary means. My sister is no exception. The hidden leaders are the ones we take for granted, the volunteers and workers at soup kitchens, half-way houses, and nursing homes, those wonderful people who lead their community by example, inspiring young and old alike to get involved in the community and the world to make it a better place.

It is the unsung leaders that have the biggest aspect on our lives. Parents, for instance, are the first role models to whom we are introduced. They clear the path to what we want and sometimes show us what we donít. They teach us about the small parts of the world and lead us tentatively into them, introducing new and exciting things and leading us away from possible dangers. They are the ones who paint the picture of what a home and family is; they are the first to lead us to our self-discovery; they are the first to show us how to treat others and how we should be treated. We are then escorted into the wide world by our teachers, who show us the opportunities and possibilities that exist within our world. Teachers are, in my opinion, the most important and influential leaders. They guide those in their care to the various paths they may take and arm them with the tools necessary to make it through. Looking back, I see what my parents and teachers (even the teachers that I did not care for at the time) have done to help guide me to this point in my life. If you think about it, even friendship contains elements of co-leadership. Friends help you through your low points and you help them through theirs. When you start to lose sight of what you want in the confusing flurry of existence, you can count on your friends to lead you through with an outstretched hand, a word of comfort, and a wisecrack, and they can count on you to do the same.

Leadership can be an extremely daunting idea. For me, the very word once carried the weight of responsibility and a certain sense of required control, coupled with managerial know how and a very visible pedestal. In high school I used to find the idea of being a leader downright terrifying. So, instead, I would work from behind the scenes (literally in the sense that I did in fact work backstage at a theater). I never pictured myself as a leader so I continued staying out of the limelight and volunteered when I could, not even realizing that I was becoming a leader in my community.

It was not until I came to Mount St. Maryís that I discovered this, and found that I could not only continue leading in my community, but also grow in that leadership role and help others to do the same thing. To me, Mount St. Maryís provided me with so many marvelous opportunities, from the unwavering support and numerous campus programs, to resources that connect students to internships and possible job opportunities.

But I found that our university imparts so much more to their students. When I first heard about the four pillars (Discovery, Leadership, Faith, and Community), I was confused as to how someone could teach leadership. I always believed it to be an inherent trait, one that you were either born with or without. I have discovered, however, that I was wrong. Since coming to the Mount, the thought of leadership is becoming less and less terrifying. After listening to my professors and fellow classmates explain leadership principles, I have found that leadership exists not in a solitary sense, where there is only you to carry out a world change, but instead in the realm of solidarity, a place where like-minded people work together to lead their communities to a better and brighter future. Mount St. Maryís shows that becoming a leader does not mean changing the world all by yourself, but rather providing small changes for the betterment of the community. Others will support you along the way, and you will lead others to do the same. Slowly but surely, I am becoming a leader, learning as I go and leading by example.

Read other articles by Sarah Muir