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Tribal students describe meaning of leadership

Eight Tribal students will attend the 2012 National High School Leadership Conference at Columbia University in New York from July 17-21. The program focuses on enhancing the necessary life skills students need to be successful and effective leaders in college and beyond. The goal of the conference is to enhance leadership skills through personal development and self-discovery while building self-confidence and preparing for the necessary nonacademic skills for college. To qualify, the students needed a 3.0 GPA or higher and needed to compose the following essays describing what leadership meant to them.


Marissa Osceola

Leadership is not just another title; it’s someone with a purpose, which wants to be the guiding light for others in the dark. For those who cannot just walk, but needs someone with the knowledge or ability to walk that path, and who will walk with them. Leadership needs a multi-faceted person who has the courage to lead a certain people and help direct them as they continue on their path.

To myself, one of the more important qualities of a leader is the aptitude to communicate with the people. If one cannot communicate with their people, they cannot properly understand the needs of their people or relay their message if needed. Having a good rapport with your peers is a way to gain their respect and trust as well.

Having this is a great responsibility and must not be taken lightly. You have to be willing to take responsibility to represent a group of people. They will count on you to help take the lead but you have to be prepared to step up to the plate. It is not something that can forgotten down the road; it’s a commitment.

Staying committed is an important quality to have. Responsibility, commitment and communication are key to being a successful leader. I feel that if a person wants to be in a leadership position they need to be prepared, and if they are not prepared they should not accept the position prior to being prepared. There are ways to gain the knowledge and skills it takes to be a leader. You just have to have the right aspiration to put your mind to it!


Neyom Osceola

Leadership is a quality pursued by many, acquired by few, and misconstrued by thousands. It withholds an abundance of meanings and perspectives, but in my view, it’s the ability to influence those who are compelled but willful to follow. The exact moment in fifth grade that I was introduced to asi-yahola, or as most know him Osceola, I was influenced to follow and bestow my own attainment on society. As Osceola did, I yearn to perpetuate strategies and tactics of leadership to set a strong, amicable, and stately tribe in which our youth will strive to reach the pinnacle of their academic careers. Pursuing the effects of leadership has been a life long journey of mine, as I desire to be an inspiration to others and help them acquire the goals they set for themselves. As Confucius’ contradictory yet candid phrase on leadership says, “The best leader follows the will of the people.” This is an extremely imperative regulation most leaders should follow. It highlights the importance of the people in a society, which is why my tribe’s decisions and wills are significant in my eyes. As an aspiring leader, I yearn to fulfill the hopes and dreams of others as Osceola did for his tribe. He refused the U.S. government as fierce as he did because he believed the Tribe was going to be of vital significance. He believed in the Tribe’s rights and privileges to pursue happiness, and in a way I feel like he believes in me. Throughout his life’s circumstances, I became more compelled to replicate the greatness of his achievements; from a fifth grader until now I am still pursuing the equivalence, if not more, of such inspiration. Overall, to me leadership is the act of influencing others to accomplish their ambitions.


Tia Blais-Billie

There are countless examples of leaders from history. From minor ones to world influencing ones, each leader is always expected to create something great from what they are in charge of. However, the concept of leadership holds much more than merely telling people what to do. To me, leadership means holding the responsibility of yourself and those around you, and having the will to shape the situation.

When you take on the challenge to lead a group of people, a team, a project, etc., you accept the responsibilities that come with it. People will turn to you for guidance, and you must be ready and able to direct them. This is another responsibility as a leader, to keep everyone unified. Whether this is done through inspiring everyone to work towards a goal, or make sure everyone feels equal in the process of achieving this goal, it is important to make sure everybody gets along well. Once these responsibilities are successfully executed, you are already a great deal ahead of the game.

However, should something end up going wrong, you must be able to step up as the leader. This is the condition you accept in accepting the role of leader, knowing full well that you will be seen as the source of action for everything that occurs under you. In some cases, there may be things or people that were out of your control, but it is still your responsibility to oversee everything that happens.

Becoming a leader also means shaping not only yourself, but everyone and everything in your responsibilities to reach the goal. As mentioned before, it is important that everyone gets along well; this can mean changing your usual way of doing things. For example, there is a job that needs to be done. Now, this may be what you always take care of and usually prefer to do, but there is someone else on your team that is not only capable, but very willing to complete it. You have the right to take up this job just as much as they do, but perhaps there is a different job that you can do also, while only a few other unwilling people can. This would call upon you to be able to change your usual ways for the better of the team. Serving as the leader, it is not only important to get these kinds of points across to people, but to demonstrate them as well. Even so, the leader holds different and heavier responsibilities than the rest of the group. This means that as the leader, you must be able to change your tactics and execution to whatever the situation or goal calls for. Perhaps somewhere along the path, an obstacle appears. The leader is held responsible for being able to lead the people through or around it. However, one must remember to stay true to one’s own convictions and morals.

I view leadership as a challenge that can either bring out the best in a person, or the worst. Of course everyone wishes for the best to be brought out. I believe it can be when a leader holds true to their responsibilities and self, but is also able to adapt. This brings out the true purpose in the leadership: being able to serve as an inspiration and guidance for people towards a single goal.


Brianna Blais-Billie

Leadership is a word that everybody uses; it is a word that is used for praise, admiration, or as a goal. If one were to look up leadership in any dictionary he or she would find something along the lines that it is the position of being the leader or the ability to lead. If he or she were to ask an individual, she would get differing connotations. Although everyone agrees that leadership is a desired trait, people have different ideas of it. I consider leadership to be responsibility of the group or organization being lead and understand of the individuals.

Leading a group requires the leader to take responsibility. To have leadership, one must be willing to be accountable for their followers. A leader must always look after his or her followers. The safety and actions of the followers must be a priority. If a leader has control over another, he or she has an obligation to trust that the follower will do what is in the leader’s best interest. A follower can commit a transgression, and the responsibility will be given to the on controlling.

A leader must try to see everyone’s interest individually in order to lead properly. To have leadership, one should make sure every opinion is heard. Although, to be practical, not everyone can get what his or her followers need in order to aid his or her leadership.

The ability to lead lies in responsibility and understanding. My connotation relates to how the leader must make the group’s happiness his or her priority. The leadership is sacrificing personal priorities and devoting yourself to your followers and the group’s goals.


Destiny Nunez

Leaders are meant to guide others into the right direction by setting a good example for them. As people grow up, they watch elders to see what an appropriate way to act for them is. Who a person becomes depends on who they choose to watch. In today’s world, there are very few people who stand up and choose to lead people in the right directions instead of the wrong; I am one of them. Being a leader is a choice I am making because it is important and it makes me feel good about myself.

Looking back in history, leaders were vital to moving forward and today things are no different. What kind of society would we live in if the leaders decided not to be the person they needed to be? If George Washington gave up one day, would the United States be as free today? If Martin Luther King Jr. decided that fighting for civil rights was pointless, would America still be segregated? Washington fought for the countries freedom but without him, would we have won? Martin Luther King Jr. led peaceful acts to get his point across but without him, would the African Americans begin with violence? Two men moved the world in such ways that forced change. No, they were not invincible but they knew the importance of guiding those who needed guidance. Leaders formed the world we live in and without them the world would be in chaos. People needed a leader in order to help them make the change they wanted to see. Without a leader, they could not have been organized and worthy of fighting for such causes. Leading a people is a job that should not be taken lightly; it can either make or break an idea, cause, or a person. However, being a leader is important no matter how big the impact is. Every little change that a leader causes is important. For example, I have earned straight A’s throughout school. My younger brother has decided to follow my footsteps to make the effort to make exceptional grades. Leading just one person to make a good decision even once can change an entire outlook so they will continue to make better choices. The world needs leaders to direct them on the path they need to be on.

Knowing that I have led somebody into the right direction makes me pleased with myself. Too many people go through life being content with how things are in the world. I cannot sit by and watch as parts of the world disintegrates. Change begins with kids and I enjoy making an impact on somebody’s life. Young kids need a person to guide them and I know I can be the person who does that. My younger siblings go with me to church on Sundays and walking them through the door gives me such a joy knowing that I am helping them get closer with God. I also help coach a softball team and when former players of mine come up to me and speak to me it brightens my day. Kids who I have helped look up to me. They could have chosen anyone besides be but they decided to look up to me. I am active in many school and out-of-school activities, make good grades, and have never done drugs or alcohol so I am pleased knowing that a handful of kids will not grow up doing certain things. I plan on helping anybody who needs help to do what they have to in order to be the best person they can be.

Leaders in society form how people live. They form character, values, and all around better people. Being a leader is important regardless of how big the impact is. The smallest change is capable of beginning a domino effect of positive change. Being a leader gives self-satisfaction. Knowing that I am able to push somebody towards being a better them makes me feel accomplished. What does being a leader mean? According to the dictionary, a leader is simple a person who leads. Being a leader means more than that. Being a leader, people not only lead others, but help mold others.


Sara Ramos-Huggins

Leadership is the ability to inspire others, motivate, set a clear vision, communicate, respect others, and, of course, lead by example. A leader is someone that has the strength and knowledge to represent a responsible self. Leaders are continuously learning new ways to do things and sharpen their mind while always focused on achieving their one main goal. Leadership can also mean having the potential to do things for other and the willingness to help them. A good leader seeks to make a positive change.

An example of one time when I had to showcase my leadership skills is when the youth council was having difficulty with a Mother’s Day event that was being planned. I continued to shoot out ideas and we finally came up with an idea that would work. I took initiative and handled all the phone calls that had to be made and was willing to help the council with anything that needed to be done. Another time I showed leadership is when I became captain of my basketball team. The other girls on the team looked to me for help both in the sport and in school. I am a good role model when it comes to my friends. They always ask for my advice. One of my great friends once said that she comes to me to help her decide what to do because she does not know what is best and she needs me to help her get her life on the right track.

Good leadership skills are an important quality to have. Some of the components of leadership include inspiration, communication, and motivating others. I have had to used my leadership skills in many ways. In softball we always encourage each other to do our best and I motivate the other girls to try their best. If they make a mistake I tell them there is always next time and to keep their head up. Developing good leadership skills takes time. Being a leader means being willing to change and wanting to make a change for the good of those you are leading.


Daniel Nunez

A good leader possesses the qualities within himself that others want to model. I consider myself to be a natural leader. I represent my school as president of the freshman class. I have always been respected by my peers as an achiever. I have learned through my experiences in leadership positions what it takes to be a good leader. When your influence is important to others, it is always important to put your best foot forward and be the best that you can be.

As a leader, you must earn the respect of your peers. The only way to do that is by setting an example that others will follow. I have found that it is more effective to inspire others, rather than command others. People are more likely to follow your lead if they do not feel like they are being led.

A leader is always seeking to learn and improve from his experiences and interactions with others. He must be able to sacrifice his own beliefs, at times, and be willing to put the interests of others first. A leader cannot take on all the jobs. He has to be able to delegate tasks to others. People need to be given responsibility and valued for their input. A good leader should also recognize and encourage his peers and let them know how important they are to his own success. It is crucial to have the loyalty and support of others, but their efforts have to be appreciated as well. It is essential to give credit to those who deserve it.

Another huge part of being a good leader is to know how to take the blame when something goes wrong. As a leader, you have to show initiative, be able to make decisions, and take the ball and run with it. But, when something doesn’t go as planned, it is important to take responsibility and admit your own mistakes. People will appreciate a leader who can admit his mistakes.

A capable leader also has the confidence and belief in himself that it takes to lead, without letting his ego get too big. A big ego will make an ineffective leader. A good leader is concerned about the well-being of the group, not himself as an individual. It is essential to practice what you preach, recognize and support others around you, and invest in developing other good leaders, as well. If others see that you are sure of yourself, they will be inspired to follow.


Alexis Aguilar

Being the eldest sibling of eight has taught me much of what I believe means to be a leader. However, a leader does not draw experience from just one source. Softball, 4-H, school clubs, summer programs, and my whole high school career in general have contributed to my knowledge of what it means to be a leader. In the words of my most respected freshman year Honors English teacher and veteran, Mr. Hallock, “It’s not who the guy is; it’s what he’s made of that counts.”

Being a leader starts with the self and means having a well-rounded knowledge of oneself. A clear understanding of one’s strengths, weakness, preferences, and priorities leads to self-confidence, which is necessary for an effective leader to have. That, along with a sound moral compass, and clear values, is a leader. When we know ourselves to this extent, we are able to make quick, clear decisions, even under pressure. We can respond to any situation in a split-second with confidence and class. Once we know ourselves, we can work better with others.

Good people skills are also part of being a leader. The masses would seldom choose to follow a misanthrope. These skills include listening to what others have to say, being open-minded, and sociable. To me, being a leader means making people feel comfortable and needed. People like feeling important and are more likely to ask for someone’s advice if they do not feel like they are being a nuisance or are being ignored. This builds excellent group rapport. Open-mindedness breaks down into a few other components as well, such as, flexibility and acceptance of new people and ideas. Combined, these would make for a quality leader.

A great quality leader also possesses this key characteristic: the ability to give help where help is needed, and knowing when to ask for help for oneself. When someone that aspires to be a leader proffers his/her help to another individual, it should be so whether the help was asked for or not. That drive to help others will certainly let them know that, “Hey, this person is a leader. I can trust him/her.” On the other hand, knowing when to ask for help is also an important quality in any leader. It lets people know that he/she trusts the receiving party just as the latter trusts the former. It makes them feel needed and therefore makes both parties’ bonds stronger and more willing to help one another. Whatever the case may be, leaders are neither self-appointed, nor made in a single day. They are chosen by mutual group consensus, or, as in the case of our nation’s president, the greatest figure of exemplary leader skills, are officially voted in by a majority. Leaders are those people that others look to for advice and guidance, sometimes even unconsciously. That is because people can see certain individuals’ stable moral standing, confidence, and drive for the betterment of oneself and others is what makes them a leader. It is what makes them willingly follow. This is what being a leader means to me.

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