As the school year comes to a close, we’re continuing our series on youth leadership from high school to college. Today’s blog comes from Brad Efune, National Youth Activation Committee member and sophomore at the University of Arizona.
Graduating high school and embarking on the journey called college is probably one of the most terrifying and exciting times in any young persons life. The experiences that lay ahead of you are those that will form you into the person that you will one day become.
So what is the key to making sure your transition from high school to college goes smoothly and successfully? I think the answer to that question is: you have to do what you know how to do, and what makes you feel comfortable.
Students who are actively involved in Project UNIFY or the Special Olympics movement in general need to STAY ACTIVE in youth involvement. Surrounding yourself with people that have common interests with you is the best and easiest way to make friends and acquaintances.
When I left high school and jumped into college life at the University of Arizona, I quickly made it my mission to find the nearest Special Olympics program director and get as involved as possible. I reached out to other students on campus who were involved and quickly made friendships. Eventually I found a group of students who had been previously involved in Special Olympics Youth Leadership Committees and we began working on getting Project UNIFY spread throughout high schools in the Tucson area.
The jump from high school to college can be easier than most say, you just need to remember to surround yourself with those that have your best interests at hand and enjoy the same activities as you. Involvement with Special Olympics should not end when you graduate high school, instead it should begin when you enter college.
Contact your area director and continue to be INVOLVED!
As you step down from the podium with your high school diploma in hand, you find yourself in an interim stage between adolescence and adulthood. You feel as though you have arrived at Platform 9 ¾, stuck between worlds and ready to be carted off to a place perhaps just as magical as Hogwarts: college. While settling in on campus, so many things will change, but you must always remember that you are still a leader. Everything you learned in high school and all the experience you gained will not go to waste; it will form the foundation of your college leadership.
With every passing year, you are given more freedom at the cost of responsibility. High school allows you to act as independently as you may while still living under your parents’ roof. Most youth leadership in high school allows students to form their own plans and carry them out under the structured guidance and supervision of faculty. During this period, youth seem to be given a leadership permit—the wheel is handed over to them, but the adults still have a brake pedal installed in the passenger side just in case. This allows students to develop their leadership skills, while letting adults take care of the boring work of forms and finances.
Transitioning from being a leader in high school to a leader in college may seem like you’re hitting the ground running, but it’s not as drastic as it seems. At its heart, leadership at all stages is about inspiring people. It’s true, there won’t be as much hand-holding and at times it may feel like the system is working against you, but pushing through all of that will not only make a name for yourself on campus, but foster your leadership ability in a way that you never before had the chance to. You will be expected to work more independently, but even at college, there is always someone to reach out to for help when needed. It is essential that you find the right people who will help you along your way, but let you work through your trials on your own. College can be the best years of your life, but unlike in some high schools, you must always be actively seeking out opportunities to seize.
A leader is someone who shapes their community, so as you enter the realm of higher education, shape yours so that you leave it as a better place than when you first arrived.