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  • Writer's pictureCATHERINE BARRON '25

Building Tomorrow's Leaders

In a world where people face discrimination and inequality, every person can activate their heart of passion, perseverance, and validation through the power of knowledge and leadership. As the young women of Saint Ursula Academy we have the opportunity to be the world's next leaders and have the potential to make a lasting impact on the girls that follow in our footsteps. Knowledge is the conduit of change and by taking inspiration from the strong female leaders that have already taken great strides to create a difference in a seemingly patriarchal society, we ourselves can form into the leaders of the future. While every human is unique we have the ability to acknowledge how different leadership styles can complement each other in order to be a stronger united force. Finding your voice, passion, and courage is an extremely daunting task, but can be accomplished more sufficiently through the guidance of the female leaders that have paved the way.

Perspective and inspiration are two of the driving forces that shape us into the complex young women we are. Specific resources and people can push us to further our goals and passions. Ms. Jean Griffin, The Interim Associate Provost and Dean of Students at Xavier University, stated that the most significant resource in her leadership journey is “People have invested and supported me. The key in a happy career and happy life is investing in the relationships around you.” Also Dr. Mari Thomas, The Principal at Saint Ursula Academy, shares that education and action is another key factor of success: “My course work in my doctoral program, allowed me to learn the why behind why we do things.” She continues, “Book knowledge is one thing, implementing it is another.” In addition Dr. Jennifer O'Toole, Director of Cincinnati’s Internal Medicine and Pediatric Residency Program, shares how her time at an all-girls highschool like SUA shaped her into the leader she is today by saying, “I went an all girls school, that provided me a good foundation of self-confidence and the ability to manage different tasks.” Ultimately, it is through the people and the experiences we endure that we can grow and expand our knowledge, in order to make a difference in this ever changing world.

In addition, every person has a distinct motivation and style that incites their strong voice as a leader. Ms. Alicia Tidwell, The Vice President of Equity and Inclusion at Saint Ursula Academy shares her reason for her active role in the community: “We may be the only Jesus that people get to see. We serve a big God. but we are here to do the little things for each other.” Moreover Dr. Thomas explains her leadership style by saying, “I would define my leadership style as servant leadership. Focusing on how you are called to serve others. Putting the value of people into decision making.” Ms. Jean Griffin’s leadership style is derived from Ignition Spirituality, “Cura Persoanlis, meaning caring for the whole person. This is something that has been a priority of mine my whole life.” A common overarching theme in all these great female leaders is the want and desire to help others and putting others needs before their own.

Women in leadership are offered unique perspectives and challenges that may be unseened by the outside eye. Dr. O’Toole shared, “ There are expectations for women to be the perfect wife, perfect mom, and perfect doctor. And that is something I want to change for the next generation. And I feel liberated to call that out, and know that I can do it all.” Another impactful quote shared by Ms. Tidwell is, “You are converting people into believers. So they say, 'I believe she is going to add value to what I am doing.'” Additionally about how it is equally important to protect our individual values saying, “If you can’t take care of you, who can you take care of?” Dr. Thomas speaks on her experience in working in predominantly male environments by stating, “ I was pushed to get advanced degrees and get those external validators that colleagues would find value, adding impact to my voice.” Women of all walks of life are faced with struggles that they must overcome in order to create lasting impressions on their communities. But it is equally important to take care of yourself as an individual, and not forget your true worth.

We all as young women and high school students are going through a time of immense growth and change, and it is extremely challenging to know what we should be doing now in order to set us up for success in the future. One lesson is that it is important to stay true to who you are and not change for others. Ms. Jean Griffin gives the advice, “Trust your gut and instincts because that is who you are.” Also it is easy to feel as though you are an outsider and being different is bad, but Ms. Tidwell states, “It’s not that you don’t fit in, it's that they don’t fit in with who you are. Something in you is special and some people will be attracted to you and some people won’t.” Finally it is key that you do not let others get in the way of your goals and passions. Dr. O'Toole shares the very important guidance, “You can do more than you would have ever dreamed of, and do not let anyone ever tell you, you are not good enough because you are a woman.” This sage advice can offer you support and aid to climb some of the highest mountains and make it to the peak as a stronger individual.

Everything as young women we encounter adds to the complex tapestry of knowledge and perspective. Every action and struggle makes up a mosaic of experience that shapes the impact we will make on the world in the future. It is education, from the great leaders that stand before us that we can expand our knowledge and influence. We must take the lessons handed down to us and integrate it into our own lives and leadership. Saint Ursula Academy is where we start and grow our skills before we share them with the world. Ms. Alicia Tidwell, encapsulates that love that the SUA community instills, in order to foster a community of growth and leadership through this quote, “You are a light. We are a light in a world of chaos and darkness sometimes. And we can get caught up in the minutiae of this world and all things that are wrong, but there is still light and beauty in this world. There are still people that care. People that want to do good. People that want to succeed. And I see that everyday here at Saint Ursula Academy.”

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