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Girls Inc. She Votes 2008 Presents: Campus Leaders

If you’ve been keeping up with Girls Inc. Online Presents: Girls Inc. She Votes 2008, you know that we want girls to get comfortable with being leaders and running for elected positions one day, and to get started ASAP!

Your school—whether it’s elementary, middle, high school, or college—can be the key to kicking off your future as a leader. After all, schools are like mini-governments, offering a variety of student organizations—and therefore, student leaders—to help provide resources and services.

Girls Inc. Online spoke to six young women who are making an impact as campus leaders at New York University, one of the nation’s largest colleges with a total enrollment of more than 40,000 students. Many got their start as high school captains and presidents, but it’s never too late.

President of a sorority today, President of the United States tomorrow? Only time will tell, but each of these girls says that running for and winning elected positions has inspired her to be a leader for life.

Meet these campus leaders.

Who: Lauren Gonzalez

Leadership role: President, Brittany Hall Council

What it means: Lauren leads meetings of her Hall Council, a student government body that offers learning programs and social events for the students who live in a dorm. Lauren leads meetings and decides who on the council should be in charge of a certain task.

Words to live by: “There will be times when working with other people will be extremely difficult, but it only helps to build up your leadership and communication skills.”

Why she ran: I think getting involved in your school is extremely important because it's a major part of your life. It's good to know what's going on and to give back.”

The best part of the job: “I have met so many great people I would never have met had I not been in this position.”

The toughest part of the job: “One of the major challenges besides time constraints and juggling school is organization. It's especially difficult to get the whole building to know what we're doing and what's going on.”

Future leaders, listen up: “It's tough at times being a student leader—juggling school, work, friends, sleep, activities, and more but it's so worth it. Being a student leader will definitely prepare you for future roles and even your career one day.”

Who: Molly Heyman

Leadership role: President, Oxfam America at NYU

What it means: Molly leads all of campus activities for Oxfam NYU, an organization that works to end poverty and world hunger. For example, her club made sure that the dining halls on campus serve food that comes from companies that pay their workers a fair wage.

Words to live by: “I surround myself with people who believe and are part of the incredible potential of our generation.”

Why she ran: “I ran for President when the other club members whom I trusted and respected pleaded that I take on the leadership position.”

The best part of the job: “I love meeting new members who share in my passion to make change. 

The toughest part of the job: “I am NOT detail oriented, so I have learned the importance of seeing others as resources. There are many detail oriented members in Oxfam and I am not afraid to ask for their help—all the time!”

Future leaders, listen up: “Challenge yourself; there is no other way to discover your true potential.”

Who: Samantha Karwin               

Leadership role: President, Alpha Sigma Tau Sorority, Delta Phi Chapter, New York University

What it means: Samantha leads the Alpha Sigma Tau sorority, one of many social and charitable sorority organizations on campus. As President, she is like the ambassador representing the sorority to the outside world. Samantha assigns committees and approves the sorority’s monetary and social goals.

Words to live by: “Aim high, and the respect you gain from others will take you even higher.”

Why she ran: “I chose to run for this position because I knew that there were some necessary structural changes that needed to be made in the organization, that the resources were available to make those changes, and in a burst of ambition and confidence—and of course, with a little nudging from my friends—saw that I could be the one to take us forward.”

The best part of the job: “I most enjoy working with and supporting not just those [sorority] sisters who were my closest friends or classmates, but all women in my organization. Seeing my sisters succeed is proof of my own success.”

The toughest part of the job: “It can also be a challenge to be the face of my organization 24/7, but I remind myself of the pride I feel when my sorority is acknowledged for a large fundraiser or a sister is elected to a Class Council position I helped her prepare for, and I find myself more excited than ever to dedicate my time and energy.”

Future leaders, listen up: “Never underestimate yourself. Luckily, I had the advice and encouragement of sisters who believed in my leadership potential. I always encourage my sisters to start at the top and show that they are proud of who they are and have the personal strength and dedication to take on even the most challenging leadership responsibilities.”

Who: Heidi Knight

Leadership Role: Programming Co-Chair, Inter-Residence Hall Council

What it means: Heidi plans events for the Inter-Residence Hall Council, a group that hosts social and educational events for anyone living in a dorm.

Words to live by: “I thrive on being able to meet people and form connections with them.”

Why she ran: “I figured that there was no better way to [promote] community than to create events at which students could come together and get to know each other. I love having a good time and providing others with a good time as well. ”

The best part of the job: “I really like that I get to interact with lots of people. I thrive on being able to meet people and form connections with them.”

The toughest part of the job: “I share my position with someone else, which can be challenging at times because there must be a balance of power and responsibility between the two of us. We just keep the lines of communication open.”

Future leaders, listen up: “Go for it if you want to be involved and make a difference.”

Who: Madeline Gomez

Leadership role: Concerts Chair, NYU Program Board

What it means: Madeline heads the music section of Program Board, a council that provides affordable and fun entertainment for students. She convinces popular musicians to play concerts on campus. Thanks to her planning, the campus has hosted Hold Steady, The National, Regina Spektor, and Wolf Parade.

Words to live by: “You trusted me with this position—trust that I’ll live up to that.”

Why she ran: “I had been a member of Program Board for three years before I took on the position, during which I'd worked closely with the two Concerts Chairs. I really enjoyed the work and felt like I would be qualified to take on the role.”

The best part of the job: “I enjoy challenging myself to find artists that are new, but still popular, and artists that live up to the legacy of past NYU concerts.”

The toughest part of the job: “[Booking artists] is just about persistence: taking time to continue reaching out to artists and agents, making sure to stay organized, and holding my ground when there is some sort of conflict.”

Future leaders, listen up: “Find something that you love to do and stick with it. The first time I ran for concerts chair, someone else won, but I stuck with it because not winning didn't make me enjoy the work any less. [When running in an election], it's important that those people voting see that you have been around and that you know what you're doing, but mostly I think people want to see that you will enjoy the position and that you're dedicated to it because you enjoy it.”

Who: China Bay Smith

Leadership role: Committee Chair, NYU Program Board - Pre-Release Committee

What it means: China plans the movie events for Program Board, a council that provides affordable and fun entertainment for college students. Thanks to China, students attend free screenings of top films like “21,” “Bee Movie,” and “Blades of Glory.”

Words to live by: “Taking on the responsibility of being a leader teaches you a lot about yourself and the way you interact with other people.”

Why she ran: “I had been a member of the committee for one year and I really enjoyed everything that we did.  It seemed like the natural progression of things to run for a leadership position.”

The best part of the job: “I love watching movies, so being the facilitator of advanced movie screenings is pretty great.  I love being able to provide students with free movies and seeing how grateful they are.”

The toughest part of the job: “It is hard to maintain the balance between friend and supervisor. I have to make sure that I am being nice to everyone but that they still respect me as the leader.”

Future leaders, listen up: “Everyone has the potential to be a good leader. Putting yourself out there and trying to be elected for something, even if you don't get it, is a great way to meet people and develop your own set of skills.”

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