Being Bossy Isn’t So Bad!
What it Takes to Inspire Others
Everyone can become a leader, whether they realize it
or not. You don’t necessarily have to be Mr. or Ms.
Popularity, get straight A’s or be in charge of every
committee in school. Little things like earning
respect, listening to what others have to say, setting
good examples for your siblings or simply having
confidence in what you do can make you a great leader.
A leader doesn’t need to have all the answers to
everything or act powerful.
Leaders encourage others to feel powerful. The
Educational Academic Outreach Program (EAOP) gave
middle school and high school students the opportunity
to experience leadership by participating in a three
day Summer Leadership Institute (SLI). The program
was held at the University of California Santa Cruz,
Porter College, where students attended daily
activities and slept in the dorms. “I wanted to
participate in this conference because I wanted to
learn more about college,” said Sandra Ibarra, an
eighth grader at Pajaro Middle School.
Ten Watsonville High School students (including
myself) were selected to attend the SLI and acted as
mentors for 40 middle school students from Rolling
Hills, Pajaro, E.A. Hall and Lakeview, with another
ten from San Jose schools. Once these students stepped
down from their buses they were as excited as we were!
In the dorms and in groups, students were randomly
mixed with others whom they probably had never met
before. Some students had never been away from home
for so long or spent time at a college. It was up to
us mentors to make them feel comfortable and get them
to work together.
“We got to know the groups better and learned new
things from different people,” said Ana Méndez, a
student at Pajaro Middle School. Her friend Sandra
Ibarra added, “They [the mentors] were all nice and
encouraged me to be successful.”
Two mentors, each in charge of four to five students,
ran the meetings. In our group discussions we tried to
keep it school-related. My group shared a lot of what
they did in school, such as giving teachers a hard
time and making them cry, messing around and getting
poor grades. But still, the group said that they
wanted to graduate and succeed.
Since they mentioned that they wanted to go to
college, we had them write down a list of their
future goals and the steps they were going to take to
reach them. We helped the group recognize some of the
obstacles they may have to confront while on the path
to accomplishing their goals. It was gratifying to see
them open up to us.
“I think they were good leaders for us to then become
like them,” said Crystal Ríos, an eighth grader at
E.A. Hall Middle School. “I learned that in order to
achieve a goal you need to work hard. Go through good
things and bad things, like obstacles.”
Our students realized that making good decisions will
guide them on their path, wherever they wish to go.
Remember, no matter where you’re from or who you are,
you can be a leader. You’ve got what it takes. It’s up
to you to put it into action. The best way to begin is
by believing in yourself!