“Lead with integrity. Disregard the impossible.” Who would have ever guessed that after three summers, these words would still be guiding principles that drive the work that I have the pleasure of doing each and every day? I am product of the Summer 2012 ATO/DG LeaderShape session held at Camp Sumatanga in Gallant, AL. When I left the state of Arkansas that summer with an open mind and stomach full of nerves, I wondered what this program would offer me that others before it did not.
After attending the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) Annual Convention in Tampa, FL this past month I realized how much of an impact the LeaderShape program has made on me over the past few years since I left the hallowed camp grounds of Camp Sumatanga. It is the connections that were made during team building activities, the very vulnerable state of emotions that were brought out through critical cluster group conversations that I remember so vividly three summers ago. This program is a true testament to challenging students to think outside of themselves and really figuring out what it means to lead in a way that aligns with the values and beliefs that each person holds within oneself.
After LeaderShape I began to think about my role in creating positive change in the world. Who do I want to become as a professional? What jobs are out there that align with how I want to help people in the future? What job would challenge me in a way that would continue to shape me and motivate me to become a better person than who I was the previous day?
I currently serve as a graduate assistant in the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and am pursuing a Master’s in Higher Education Administration. I believe that this path was heavily impacted by the people, the brothers, and the mentorship that I was able to gain through my involvement in LeaderShape. The idea of leading with integrity is something that I strive to do in my everyday interactions with my peers, students, and coworkers. I realize the amount of work that needs and has to be done in the world of Fraternity & Sorority Life and have dedicated myself to become a catalyst for the elevation of Greek Life on our college campuses across the nation.
In short to those reading this, I challenge you to make an impact not just an impression. How will you impact someone today?
Taylor Phoumivong is a 2014 graduate of Arkansas Tech University. He is now at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, pursuing a Master’s in Higher Education Administration. His interest areas within student affairs includes Greek Life, Orientation, and Multicultural Affairs. His ultimate career goals include creating more opportunities for access to higher education and working towards the development of Asian American and Pacific Islander students on college campuses. He currently holds membership with the Association of Fraternity & Sorority Advisors (AFA), National Orientation Directors Association (NODA), and the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) where he is one of the Coordinators for the ACPA Ambassadors program (under the Standing Committee for Graduate Students & New Professionals).