I absolutely love FSU’s mission statement, and its principles of leadership, learning, service and global awareness. Of these characteristics, I find that I appreciate the value of service most of all, because this principle appeals to me more than anything else. My entire life, I have dedicated myself to serving others; I feel that my greatest responsibility in life is to make my talents and effort work for my fellow man (and woman). I have always wanted to help people, even when I was young; growing up in Gainesville, FL, some of my first jobs included babysitting for my neighbors. I quickly grew a reputation as a responsible child care professional, who could be relied upon to take care of children, while also providing an entertaining and nurturing presence for them while I was there.
Service is an incredibly important part of who I am; I believe service can be defined in many different ways based on what way you serve. Leaders serve their populations, for example, by offering their followers or colleagues their services and organizational skills, as well as their decision-making acumen. One summer, I was a counselor at Wiles Elementary Fitness Camp; there, I was placed in charge of a group of children, both to care for them and see that they met the fitness goals that were placed on them over the course of the camp. It was an absolutely challenging experience; I had never been given this much responsibility before. However, instead of making it a transactional experience (i.e. forcing the kids to meet the goals without teaching, ignoring their needs) I chose to make it a transformational one. I got to know each and every one of the children I was to care – their challenges, their personalities – which allowed me to provide them with the motivation and encouragement they needed not only to achieve their fitness goals, but to have a pleasant and enriching experience at the camp. A real leader is of service to those they lead, and I feel that this is the capacity I placed myself in during this experience. Instead of acting as a figurehead for this group, I was simply the person with the most resources and experience – to that end, I chose to lead them in a compassionate and open manner. By the end of the summer, all of my campmates had met their fitness goals and formed a close bond with each other, and with me; I like to believe this is because I treated my leadership role as one of service and not authority.
This approach helped me to understand the way I wish to cultivate a career, and taught me a very important lesson about how I wish to contribute to the world around me.
Given all of my experience in leadership, volunteer and service capacities, I must say I connect most ardently with the service principle FSU cultivates in its students. My purpose in an education is to allow myself to reach my fullest potential, so that I may pass those skills and experiences on to others in the form of service. I feel most like myself when I am of use to others, and seeing the positive effects I have had on others is an incredibly fulfilling experience. Because of this, I can safely say that service is my chief priority when contemplating the value of an education at FSU.