As a resident assistant at Florida Polytechnic University, junior Krystal Rivera understands the importance of being there for other students as a friend, and as a leader.
“Because in my position I have interactions with many students, I want to develop myself and improve as a person so I can help others,” said Rivera, a mechanical engineering major from Carolina, Puerto Rico. “How can I be a better leader to improve the lives of students who left their home for the first time, who are adjusting to their classes and to living here?”
Rivera found some answers on Jan. 15, when Master Sgt. Matthew Orlando, the Airman Leadership School commandant at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, visited the University and presented the workshop How to Recognize Opportunity: The Road to Leadership.
“Leadership boils down to one thing: relationships,” Orlando said to a classroom full of students. “Being a leader is all about taking care of your people. As a leader, your time should be invested in people.”
Orlando emphasized that true leaders approach tasks with resilience, even when the outcome seems disappointing time and time again.
“As students you are doing some amazing work. I’m sure when you go through projects you think ‘well, that’s not quite the way I envisioned things going,’” he said. “Then you can choose to quit and be done with it, or you can keep looking for ways of making it work.”
Another crucial part of being a leader, Orlando said, is making tough decisions that could result in failure. Rather than fearing this failure, he said students should see it as the first attempt at learning.
“If the decision you make as a leader turns out not to be the right one, then you learned what not to do,” he said. “It’s all about the attitude we have as we face failure. Our attitude is the only thing in life we can fully control.”
The workshop was the first of a new Leadership Co-Curricular Endorsement (CCE) Series intended to highlight learning beyond the classes. The new program provides students with a formal incentive to enhance their not-for-credit development while encouraging thoughtful participation, reflection, and learning. Different activities will be offered at least once a month.
“We are invested in giving students different experiences that make them stand out,” said Dr. Kathryn Miller, vice provost of student affairs. “We encourage activities that build leadership skills. Then we want students to reflect and document what they learned from them.”
Rivera said she is excited to participate in the new program.
“The fact that Florida Poly is putting this program together to help the students shows how much they care for our future and for us as people,” Rivera said. “I feel like they really care about our success.”
Students interested in participating or learning more about the program are encouraged to contact Dr. Kathryn Miller.
Director of Communications