NeW is excited to announce the winner of the High School Category of the 2022 Lead Like a Lady Essay Contest is Ashley Landin, a student at Judson Early College Academy. Congratulations, Ashley!
How did you hear about the 2022 Lead Like a Lady Essay Contest and why did you choose to participate in it?
I heard about this scholarship online and I decided to participate in it because I felt like I needed to share my story about my different roles of leadership in my community and maybe be a role model to other young girls who may be in a similar situation to me.
What was your favorite part about writing this essay?
My favorite part about writing this essay was having an outlet to share my experiences and how I have overcome challenges.
Why is NeW important?
I think NeW is important because it gives young women with similar strong values a sense of family and community in a world that may not be so welcoming or familiar. I truly believe in the power of uplifting women in order to make a strong leader which is exactly what NeW does.
Read her winning piece here:
Tough. Boss. Influential. Superman. “Superman?”, I asked my brother. “Yes, when I think of a leader, I think of Superman,” he replies. Well, I am no Superman. Women have fought hard throughout the years to show the world that they too, can be the leaders of the future. From the first shouts at the Seneca Falls Convention, to inaugurating the first female Vice President of the United States, women have come a long way, but not without sacrifice and determination. As a little girl I thought to myself, how can a girl like me, with no muscles, superpowers, or fancy costumes, become Superman?
When I first began dipping my toes in leadership, I was frightened. Whether it was president of Student Council, captain of my robotics team, or teaching Sunday school, I didn’t know the right approach, methodology, or format to use in order to be the leader that my classmates, teammates, and brothers and sisters in Christ deserve.
My first year as captain of my robotics team was one of the most eye opening experiences I have encountered. I was at a crossroads of being the tough, bossy leader people in a male dominated field were used to and being myself. In this modern age, women sometimes think they need to decide between being themselves and masking their feminine qualities in order to succeed in school and the workforce. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. It wasn’t until I became open and honest with my, mostly male, teammates that I helped lead them toward success.
The best leadership advice I have received is to not let yourself be consumed by the role. Do not change in order to fit the leader ‘mold’, rather make the role your own.
As a leader, I strived to be a helping hand in whatever aspect they needed. Whether it was fixing wires, soldering some robot parts together, or just listening to their ideas, I wanted to be seen as reliable.
Furthermore, I wanted my femininity to shine through and help make the team more into a family. I held get-togethers, decorated our robotics lab, and made sure everyone’s voices and feelings were heard. As a leader, I blended my integrity, work ethic, and communication skills along with my nurturing, gentle, and empathetic aspects of my femininity.
Some of the leaders I look up to do not see their roles as mothers and women as a disadvantage, but rather an asset, such as Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett who stood proudly in front of Congress and did not apologize for her beliefs, values, and morals as a woman, a mother, and a leader.
While my new approach to leadership in a male-dominated field and team eventually became successful, some male members on my team took my qualities as a sign of weakness. There were times where I was not taken seriously. However, with diligence and not being afraid to stand up for myself and my values, my team learned to respect and work with me.
Being a leader comes with its challenges. There is always a pressure to not let myself and those who look up to me down. Whenever the weight of the world is on my shoulders, I remind myself that I am setting the example for other girls who are looking for someone to look up to. I was once that little first generation girl who wanted to make her parents and community proud. I have now grown into a strong leader who can show other little girls it is possible to succeed without straying away from your true self. Leaders are not just people like Superman, they also include wives, mothers, church representatives, and myself.