I strive to support, connect, and move forward within and alongside my community. During my time in college, I embraced opportunities to develop myself and others, which I view as a transformational, relational process of mutual gain.
During my junior year of college, I took a course called Leadership and Authenticity, which gave me opportunities to discover what it means to develop myself while also developing others. These opportunities included freshmen mentoring, prison visits, and interfaith dialogue.
As part of the course, I led a group of three freshmen in a mentoring group. I scheduled regular group meetings with them throughout the semester, and we built community with one another through making food together, sharing meals, and regularly sending encouragement cards. During our conversations, we affirmed shared values, and learned a lot about our strengths, weaknesses, and life-callings.
My classmates, professor, and I made regular visits to a state high-medium security correctional facility. We participated in House of Healing discussion groups as well as in workshops about leadership. I learned to appreciate my fellow participants as unique individuals with stories, instead of seeing them as simply "prisoners," "offenders," or "inmates."
Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue
My class also took an experiential learning trip to engage in interfaith dialogue. We visited the Islamic Center of America as well as an Armenian Orthodox church. We participated in services and activities, dialogued with members, and learned about their cultures and faith. I grew in my commitment to appreciate others for who they are as people, and to engage in what communication theorists Pearce and Cronen call "cosmopolitan communication."
Professional and Personal Development
In my Leadership and Followership course, I worked with another classmate on a semester-long professional and personal development project. We met weekly with one another, assisting each other with writing and carrying out our own professional development plans. We encouraged each other in our areas of strength, as well as challenged each other to improve and grow. At the end of the semester, we delivered a joint presentation on what we learned. Through this project, I grew in my ability to listen and learn, to make positive changes, and to constructively address areas of weakness or conflict with others.