By: Gia, Riley’s Way Council Co-Chair, The Hewitt School
This past year I had the honor of co-chairing the Riley’s Way Council, with The Hewitt School and The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria. Leading our Council was an endeavor filled with joy and fulfillment, along with a lot of hard work and persistence. Through this adventure, I learned more about myself, my peers, and how we worked effectively as a group. I also learned the fundamentals of being a productive and kind leader in my community, by learning to motivate and encourage my fellow Council members in the many wonderful contributions they made.
When I first started as a Freshman, I was shy and hesitant about participating in groups. I did not have consistent confidence to participate vocally. But as the year progressed, I became more comfortable taking risks and accepting challenges as necessary steps to growth and success. I spoke out more and was able to lead group activities with more confidence. With a better understanding of my leadership style going into Sophomore year, I became more confident in sharing my opinions and my passion for the Council and for Riley’s Way. I felt a sense of purpose on the Council and continued to take on more responsibility and leadership.
(So a note to all those who are shy and hesitant like I used to be: even though it seems really hard and scary, it is important to step out of your shell when it comes to participating in your learning! Once you start doing it, it gets easier and then becomes second nature. It was the best challenge I have ever met!)
Through leading the council, the most important skills I practiced were organization, responsibility, and motivation. Organization was important in order to do my best to keep track of the work we were doing, next steps, and make sure our projects were progressing. Being a responsible leader was something that was very important to me as well. I stayed organized with the work I was responsible for, such as following up with people, creating agendas for Council meetings, sending emails, etc. Finally, I found being a motivational leader is something that I really found important, especially in my community. It is no secret that the life of a high schooler is no breeze. Sometimes it gets challenging to maintain motivation throughout the year, and as a leader, I try my best to keep my peers excited, positive, and motivated.
Looking back on the year, I am grateful for the opportunities that helped me grow as a leader and as a person. Reading all the applications as a judge for Call for Kindness, our first national initiative, was truly inspiring. It was especially meaningful to be able to share in front of the 500 adults at the biannual BBQ Blow Out why Riley’s Way is important to my life, and how Riley’s Way is making a difference, one kind action at a time. These opportunities have helped me to become a stronger leader so that I can make a greater difference in the world.
To conclude the year filled with Council and personal achievements, I had the honor and opportunity of representing the Council by presenting to Hewitt’s Board of Trustees about the work of the Council along with Riley’s Way. This was a really exciting experience for me to be able to create a presentation highlighting all the work we accomplished this year, the exciting events and meetings we had, and our dreams for the future of the Council. I got really positive feedback which makes me even more excited for what next year brings!
Riley’s Way has been and will continue to be an extremely important part of my high school career as I continue to seek to be an impactful person and kind leader. I am thankful for the opportunities I have been exposed to and the thoughtful, dedicated, and inspirational people I have met and worked with along the way. Without these opportunities, I would not have become the leader I am today.