By Bridget Sykes
Good Evening. Salvete. Bienvenue. Salud. This past Tuesday, I was greeted with these salutations at my school’s annual Honors Convocation. At this ceremony, sophomores, juniors, and seniors are inducted into the National Honor Society, National Latin Honor Society, National French Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society, or given credit for various achievements such as National Merit Commendation or maintaining a 4.0 GPA. If this sounds like a lot in English, you should hear it in Latin. Sitting in the auditorium, I was surrounded by beaming parents aiming their cameras toward the stage, esteemed faculty ready to dispense words of wisdom, but most importantly I was surrounded by the nearly 200 girls who were being honored in some way. As the officers of each society approached the microphone to speak, I started to think about how many opportunities for leadership exist at the Mount and how leadership is regarded. The school’s President emphasized in her address how each girl present has the capability to become a great leader, and how each one of us has already taken the necessary first step on that journey.
While the Mount extends so many opportunities for girls to step up and lean in, being a leader isn’t just about holding a certain title. Having a strong character and a good sense of self combined with the challenge to work to one’s fullest potential is what creates leaders. The attitude toward student and female leadership is one of respect. Aside from the gender based challenges of achieving leadership, there are intrinsic obstacles that leaders must face. It’s hard to lead, to stand against the grain and to do what is right when no one is watching. The Honors Convocation is a prime example of how girls are applauded for their leadership. This validation acts as an impetus to achieve more.
Simply being around other girls who are passionate evokes a desire to match their excitement. Girls who want to learn, serve and lead, inspire others. Tom Peters, an American writer, once explained “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” His statement brings me back to the Honors Convocation, listening to the calling of names to come forward to accept their honors. The certificate they receive isn’t just an acknowledgement of prior success, but a call to take the next step on their journey to leadership.