Major: Sustainable Community Development
Employment: Research Assistant, Center for Rural Communities
Last Act: Senior Class Commencement Address
Hometown: Arlington, Virginia
Q. What have you learned about leadership during your time at Northland?
A. The most important aspect of leadership is compassion. It’s the only way to understand differences in a meaningful way. When difficult decisions have to be made, it’s easy to be confident when coming from a place of caring. As an SCD major, community means a lot to me and kindness is the foundation.
Q. What lessons have you learned along the way?
A. Be bold, be radical, be respectful. Advocating for positive change is something I have never regretted. At Northland, I’ve been part of groups that have convinced the Board of Trustees to divest from fossil fuels, submitted development plans to the City of Ashland, and increased access to gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. The most important changes are never as easy as they should be, and it’s a process that is really slow until suddenly we don’t remember any other way of doing things. Advocating for positive change has revealed unexpected allies; it’s taught me the importance of persistence and patience, and it’s taught me the most respectful ways to break the rules for a little healthy disruption.
Q. What advice do you have for younger students wanting to step into leadership at Northland College and beyond?
A. There are few places where your impact will be as visible as it will be Northland, and you should absolutely take advantage of that. There are so many different kinds of leadership, and at Northland, there is space for all of them to shine. It’s just as important to help underclassman find their way to the CSE as it is to start a club or join NCSA. You have the ability and the responsibility to create the community you want to be a part of.
Also, ask to have class outside. I’ve never been told no.
Q. College highlights?
A. I have always enjoyed being in the outdoors, but the opportunity to have Lake Superior and the north woods as my classroom has made nature an intrinsic part of my daily routine. Within the first week, I was at Northland, I saw more stars than I had ever seen in my life, I saw bald eagles for the first time, I walked deep enough into the woods that I couldn’t hear any cars or people, and I saw the northern lights. You can’t have an experience like that anywhere else in the world, and the natural environment here continues to be a highlight every day.
When the Board of Trustees almost unanimously voted to divest from fossil fuels, everyone in the room stood and clapped. It was so powerful to be a part of a movement that has been going on for decades. My friends Emily, Lainey, and Sophie and I had worked for months on a presentation for the board with the guidance of President Miller and Trustee Mike Fiorio. Being surrounded by such incredible women who I love while participating in impactful change for Northland and for the environment is the proudest moment of my time here.
Q. What’s next for you?
Immediately after graduation, I’m driving to New Orleans with friends. After that, who knows!
Photo credit: Danny Simpson