What I’ve Learned as a Student Leader

Hi there! My name is Keelin and I’m a 4th year Criminal Justice and Political Science combined major. I’ve been a student leader in the Explore Program for four semesters now, and it has been one of the best parts of my undergraduate experience. I started as an Mentor, then became a Peer Mentor, then a Service-Learning Teaching Assistant, and am now an Outreach Assistant. Each one of these roles has taught me something new and allowed me to challenge myself and continue to grow.

Prior to becoming a student leader, I was not the most outgoing person, but I knew I wanted to become more involved in the Northeastern community so I decided to put myself out there and apply. I had already declared, but the Explore Program had been such a positive experience for me I wanted to go back. Over the course of my time as a student leader I have become more confident and can now stand in front of a class to speak without fear or nerves. Working collaboratively with an instructor and another in class student leader has also helped me become more comfortable sharing my ideas and working in a team to plan and solve problems. I’ve become much more sure of myself and that shy first-year in me is long gone.  

The best part of being a student leader is definitely the people. From the students to the advisors to the other student leaders, the Explore Program community is so welcoming and each of these groups has taught me something. My students have had interests across all majors. As I talk to them and get to know their interests, I learn more about fields that I normally wouldn’t get to learn about. Staying in touch with students after our semester in class together is over is great because I get to continue to learn about these other fields. From Behavioral Neuroscience to Music Industry, as my former students start looking for co-ops and get further in their studies, I continue to learn more. The variety in student personalities has also taught me a lot about working with others and figuring out the best way to help different people. This aspect of being a student leader has taught me adaptability and communication skills.

The advisors are absolutely amazing and have helped me continue to grow professionally as the semesters have gone by. With their help, I have learned how to leverage my experience as a student leader and talk about it in co-op interviews. Even though I’m a 4th year and no longer undeclared, the advisors remain great resources. They are always willing to help and talk about what’s going on, whether related to my Connections and Decisions class, my post-graduation plans, or just my personal life.

Finally, the other student leaders are one of the best parts of the program. We all have different majors, perspectives and ideas, and getting to connect with and work with them has not only been fun, but also informative. Working with a group of like-minded people who all have a passion for helping our students has taught me to be a better student leader. I’ve been able to take some of their approaches to class and student meetings and incorporate them into my own.

Over the past 2 and a half years, I have been lucky enough to find a home at Northeastern through the Explore Program, and I have been fortunate to learn a lot of things along the way. Applying to be a student leader was one of the best decisions first-year me could have made, and I would encourage anyone even remotely considering it to do the same!