Experience Reflection – Spring 2010-Spring 2013

ExplorACES has been one of the most influential opportunities I have had in regards to leadership development, challenge of tasks, and the high-profile nature of the event. During my three years on the student Steering Committee I have served as a director of logistics and an overall director of the event. When joining the team in 2010, I came in as a new face with little experience in event planning and execution. Being placed in charge of logistics pushed me to learn about how the University of Illinois functions in terms of “back-end” operations. This experience of learning taught me how to listen to and depend on others for results.

When promoted to a director of ExplorACES, I was given the chance to gain a new perspective of leadership and management. Before this opportunity, I had never been a “manager of managers” to any extent. Such a task can be awkward at times, particularly when conflict arises. A common challenge that I have faced so far is balancing many differing opinions and wants with limited resources.

Leadership is more than just managing others to produce a result. With ExplorACES I have really worked to create an environment that encourages an open dialogue for the committee and throughout the college. Being the largest student recruitment event, it is my goal to make sure every voice is heard within ACES, as the sum of everyone defines the whole. Now that my end of tenure is approaching, I am working to give the “reigns of leadership” over to a new, younger committee. This has been a challenge for me in the past and a skill that I am still working on improving.

When beginning the leadership certificate program, one of my primary learning goals was to be able to effectively find balance. The additional responsibilities of ExplorACES pushed me even further than I anticipated and helped me become better at prioritization. Typically I do not struggle with focusing and completing tasks in a timely manner. The more difficult part of time management for me is taking on too much responsibilities and activities. Thanks to ExplorACES and numerous other activities, I began to better understand what effective prioritization is and limit what activities I agree to participate in.

Knowing personal limits of time and abilities is essential for success, I believe, or else there is a higher chance or exposure to failure. Failure is inevitable and I must always push myself, but some activities must be out the question. For example, I physically I do not have the ability to sing “well” as my voice is not fit to do so. With this in consideration, that does not mean I cannot help choirs succeed through my skills of technical aspects, such as online publicity or sound equipment during a performance.

This ability to adapt a different perspective and view a weakness as strength is very much attributable to my ExplorACES experiences. Pushing and challenging the status quo is essential, but acknowledging and embracing weaknesses and strengths is the way success to achieved, in my perspective.