We were all told it when we visited Drake: This school will offer every student an opportunity to take on a leadership position. Certainly not every student actually takes advantage of these opportunities but many do. And while some serve in positions that are well known to the student body, others lead in roles that are not as visible. Still, their work ends up contributing to some of the most important organizations and boards on campus.
As seniors in the Army ROTC program, Cadets Rachael Stern and Benjamin Kertzman serve in roles that most students won’t ever see or experience. The structure of ROTC is fairly simple: As Cadets progress through the program, more leadership responsibilities are given to them in order to prepare them to one day become officers. By the time a cadet is a senior their responsibility is fairly heavy; a senior cadet, or an “MSIV,” is responsible for leading the entire group (the Bulldog Company) and reporting to the cadre not only here at Drake but also at Iowa State, which Drake’s Army ROTC program is a part of.
“I set goals for the program as a whole, as well as for individual cadets, and give the younger cadets the tools to achieve those goals. I’m (also) the point of communication between our program and our battalion,” Stern said of her responsibilities.
As far as what ROTC provides in leadership training, Stern knows it is unmatched here at Drake: “It has taught me how to be able to make quick decisions under pressure, how to utilize every resource available, and how to manage responsibility over other peoples’ lives.”
Kertzman, who is branching as an infantry officer after this year of school, knows his leadership lessons learned here will pay off in the future. “ROTC taught me how to manage and lead people in difficult and stressful situations by focusing on accomplishing stated goals.”
Another leader on campus, Justin Kochanski, serves in a much different way but nevertheless holds a lot of responsibility. “The two biggest roles I took on this year have been the First-Year Senator and the community service chair for Phi Gamma Delta,” Kochanski explains. He also helped organize the Belize Dance Marathon, has given school tours to prospective students and coordinated other service events — and he is a first-year.
As far as taking on these responsibilities, Kochanski sees it as a great opportunity to become a better leader and person.
“I have come to find that you take something different away from each of your involvements,” he said. “Student Senate has definitely helped strengthen my ability to articulate under pressure (and) as the community service chair I have learned how important organization and effective communication are.”
Through these positions, Kochanski has come to believe that one of the biggest aspects of leadership is figuring out how to complete the task in front of you and in what manner.
“It’s all about knowing what is right and when it is right.” Kochanski said.
Certainly, making those decisions is difficult and another leader, junior Trygve Jensen, has the responsibility of figuring out how to make them quite often. While he has served on roles in his fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon, Trygve was selected this year to be a part of the 2012 Peer Advisory Board. PAB is responsible, as many of you know, for coordinating Welcome Weekend and constructing a program for PMACs to help new first-year students settle in at Drake — that position comes with no shortage of pressure.
“It’s exciting but at the same time scary to know that a program is in our hands,” Jensen said. But with difficulties, a leader always thrives and learns new lessons.
“So far I’ve been able to get out of my comfort zone a little and challenge myself,” Jensen said. “It has also affected the way I think and make decisions. I see myself now looking at all aspects of a situation.”
Drake indeed sold many of us on the opportunities that would be provided to lead in our college careers. These students took advantage of those opportunities and there are many more like them.