Scholarship, leadership, and talent are the three platforms that truly define Distinguished Young Women. These three words define what the program is about, but after the program I knew I wanted to be able to continue living by these principles. Sure, continuing to pursue my love of violin and being a good student would easily fulfill scholarship and talent, but where would being a leader fit in? The answer to this question came quickly when I found an organization on campus called the Office of Student Activities. Within this organization is a branch called S.W.E.E.T. (Students Working to Entertain E-Town). S.W.E.E.T. plans all kinds of on-campus events and trips for students to attend. I began working as a programmer this past semester, which was the perfect opportunity to get involved. A week ago, the position of S.W.E.E.T. coordinator opened up, and I decided to apply! The coordinator oversees the entire S.W.E.E.T. branch and serves on the leadership team for the Office of Student Activities. I was the youngest person to ever interview for coordinator, but I thought I would give it a try! An application and interview later, I had the job!
Being so young, I had my qualms about taking on such a big leadership role, so I spoke to my advisor about what would happen in the next year. She started by saying that being a leader is easy. Now, some would say that being a leader is one of the hardest things you can do! But, when you break it down, all a leader has to do is what they say they’ll do. A leader does not have to be extremely intelligent or creative; they just need some courage and strong will power to stand by the promises they make. A leader does not need to be in the spotlight; in fact, some of the best leaders put their followers in the spotlight and humbly reside in the background. A leader is true to themselves and self reflects on their actions constantly. The most powerful wisdom that my advisor had to share was that you do not have to be “in charge” to lead. Just because you do not hold the highest title of them all, does not decrease your ability to positively influence those around you.
When it comes down to it, leadership is the easiest of the three principles of Distinguished Young Women. I thought that I needed to start all over and find a new group to lead in school to still be a leader. But I have come to the realization that I have always been in a capacity to lead. Just being human makes you capable of leading your peers. Every day is your opportunity to step up to the plate and be the example. After all, leadership is easy.
Carly Henry is a college freshman at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania majoring in biochemistry with a minor is business. Originally from York, Pennsylvania, Carly was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Pennsylvania for 2012. Learn more about Carly here!