Before coming to MSU, I had always thought of myself as a leader. Being a student athlete in high school, it was a position I naturally assumed in all the sports I participated in including, volleyball, basketball, and track. Also, I was a part of my high school's student leadership council and National Honor Society. Therefore, coming into my freshman year at MSU and discovering that leadership was a competency I must meet for the Honors Program seemed to be an easy feat at the time. However, after dissecting the leadership competency rubric during first year seminar, I immediately realized that meeting this competency was going to be much more challenging than I thought. Throughout striving to meet the leadership competency, I was pushed to go outside of my comfort zone when developing a leadership philosophy and applying it in my leadership experiences. Overall, I am thankful for the strides I have made in this area as I believe it will be beneficial for me in my future career and leadership opportunities.

Throughout my time here at MSU, I have had leadership opportunities that have allowed me to grow and develop into the leader that I never thought I would be capable of becoming. Initially, I always thought of leaders as being poised and having their lives put together. After critiquing and evaluating leadership styles in my Honors 401: Leadership in Context class, I quickly learned that is not the case. Through my leadership experiences in my time here at MSU, like being the team captain of MSU's track team and leading the Teddy Bear Clinic, I developed my own leadership philosophy in which I believe a compelling leader will lead by example, with his or her actions displaying progress toward the desired goal. Also, a leader must advocate for what they believe is true and refuse to give up on what he or she holds to be true. The display of the leader's actions will inspire others to lead similar lives and together they can achieve the common goal. However, being a leader of this caliber requires incredible discipline.

During my freshman year in first year experience, I was able to identify my personal leadership values through taking the Strengths Based Leadership Assessment. Out of my top five strengths, two of them are achiever and discipline. In discovering these strengths, I was not at all surprised. I have always sought out to achieve in all that I do whether it be in the classroom or on the track and doing so requires incredible discipline on my part. Throughout my future leadership experiences, I kept my leadership values in mind, becoming more aware of how they affected my thinking and actions as a leader, and also how I viewed other leaders and their styles of leadership. Between my leadership experiences of being a team captain for MSU's track team and leading the Teddy Bear Clinic, I have been able to apply my leadership strengths, learning how to adjust according to the situation, which will be later described below.

Also during freshman year, I took another course in the honors program called Leadership in Context. In this course, we critiqued leadership styles of different eras and also areas around the world. At the end of the course, I was assigned to research a leader of my choice. I chose Florence Nightingale due to her contributions to modern nursing, which relates to my future profession since I am a senior in the nursing program. Nightingale was persistent in establishing her beliefs and ideals about nursing as a profession since nursing was not viewed as an honorable career during her era (1800s). Researching her leadership style helped me create part of my leadership philosophy about advocating for what I believe is right. As a nurse, I must also be an advocate for my patients if I feel they are being treated in immoral or unjust manner. Through my research paper on Florence Nightingale and my results from the Strength Based Leadership Assessment, I have been able to develop a philosophy that I have used during leadership opportunities during my undergraduate career at MSU.

I am on the track team here at MSU, and last year I was nominated as one of the team captains. When first hearing the news, I was both excited and overwhelmed. I was just starting the nursing program, and I knew that I would not be available as much as I would like. However, I accepted the honor graciously and was looking forward to applying my leadership philosophy to a real world situation. With my philosophy in mind, I demonstrated to my teammates how to be successful both on the track and in the classroom. Also, there were a couple scenarios where I helped advocate for teammates who felt they were not being treated fairly or given the same opportunity as other teammates. Being team captain has taught me that taking on a leadership role is challenging. I felt like I was constantly being watched by my teammates, coaches, and peers; however, I kept in mind the results from the Strengths Based Leadership Assessment stating my top traits are achiever and discipline. Furthermore, their watchfulness motivated me to act with integrity and work hard in all that I do. All in all, I feel this experience has provided me with the confidence that I can handle future leadership roles, especially in remembering my leadership traits of achiever and discipline. 

Another important leadership role I took on last year was organizing the Teddy Bear Clinic. This clinic is put on by MSU nursing students where kindergartners are shown the importance of going to the doctor in a non-threatening environment. Each student brings their own teddy bear and they practice taking blood pressures, doing reflexes, and taking other vital signs on their teddy bear. I was one of the team leaders for my group. This leadership role was more challenging than I anticipated due to the strong personalities of some of the group members. When researching Nightingale in Honors 401, I learned she also had to work with others of varying personalities, especial narcissistic male personalities. However, she continued to advocate for herself and her beliefs in nursing practice. Applying what I learned about Nightingale, I advocated for those who have a quieter personality and made sure each person had the chance to voice their opinions or ideas about how the event should be run. Also, I created a job list so that the work for the event would be done more quickly and efficiently. Overall, the experience was eye-opening in how difficult it can be to work as a group or team. At the same time, it was interesting to see how my hardships with the Teddy Bear Clinic related to Nightingale's leadership difficulties. However, I enjoyed having the opportunity to take on this leadership role and gain experience in working with a broad spectrum of personalities.

Overall, my undergraduate experience at MSU has provided me with enriching leadership experiences that have helped me progress through the four levels of the leadership rubric. I am appreciative of the opportunities I have had and how they have helped me grow into the leader I am now. I am looking forward to applying my leadership skills in my future career and future leadership opportunities.