Spotlight: Bailey P. Albrecht
WHAT LEADERSHIP MEANS
For me, leadership means engaging in a process that is working towards creating positive, sustainable change in our world. Whether that’s public policy, inclusive and affirming spaces on a college campus, ethical business, or something else. My view of leadership is very much centered around understanding historical inclusion and exclusion of various social identities in leadership both in theory and practice. If leadership is about individuals, groups, and communities, I feel like we absolutely cannot skip or gloss over the fact that so many folks are left out of narratives, and communities who do leadership differently than what our culture views are typical leadership, then we are completely missing the point of creating a better place. Because then, who is it better for? Just white folks. Which then means I need to constantly be evaluating how I show up in spaces based on my privileged identities, as well as the marginalized identities I hold. Self-work is the most important aspect of leadership for me. I read a book when I was working at Florida State University in the Center for Leadership and Social Change (shameless plug for a life-altering professional experience) that moved me and reframed my worldview. It’s called Salsa, Soul, and Spirit: Leadership for a Multicultural Age. The author, Juana Bordas, looks at different racial and ethnic communities and their approach to leadership. 10/10 would recommend for anyone wanting to understand others.
VALUE IN LEADERSHIP
I think learning about and experimenting with leadership in college is invaluable. It's the best environment to learn from other folks, bring your experiences to the table, figure out controversy with civility, all while figuring out your own ideas and values. I also believe being involved in organizations on campus, or in the community, is going to refine the knowledge, skills, and abilities of leadership. With on-campus engagement, there are advisors who have gone through their own leadership journey that can support students throughout many twists and turns. I know for me, my two advisors from undergrad helped shape my worldview. Leo, Carrie, and Tony were the most caring folks and challenged me to think bigger and more holistically. They ensured I thought of the decisions I made, and that they were ethical and served a larger purpose than myself. We're also in an incredibly unique time - when I was in college Twitter and Instagram weren't a big thing. We didn't have the access to information the way we do now. Students come to college with so much more knowledge than I did, and I think leadership itself is shifting to be a more inclusive practice. The scholarship is incorporating the need for justice and equity, and how to create positive sustainable change. While college is in fact the real world, it's still a relatively safe harbor to create change. Students don't often realize the power they have on campus to change the culture for the better. Their voices are so powerful and are so loud, the administration has no choice but to listen. If students start now, as soon as they step on campus (even in high school!), they are training themselves to be process-oriented, values-driven, and sustainable.
WORDS OF WISDOM TO TXST
For me, it was important to explore leadership opportunities that aligned with my values. I was involved in a first-year student mentor program for three years in college, as well as orientation for two years. I cared about first-year students having a smooth transition to college because mine was nothing but smooth. And for orientation, I wanted to be part of welcoming someone to campus, especially if they identified as queer. I didn’t see nearly enough, or any, queer folks on my college campus so I wanted to show first-year students that there’s a place for them. I think taking time to figure out what you care about and then doing the research of what’s out is the first step. If you care about environmental justice, there’s a group for that. If you care about mentoring, there are groups for that. If you care about creating an environment that is light and rejuvenates folks (like concerts, game nights, etc.) there are groups for that. Ask questions to administrations and students involved on campus – they’ll help you out.
"To live, to lead, for all of us to thrive, means we embrace doing something for others – we choose to because we actually want to." - Dr. Laura Osteen
About the Author:
Bailey P. Albrecht serves as a Student Affairs Professional and Outdoor Education specialist (Assistant Director at Bradford Woods (Indiana University), and the Leadership Institute Graduate Assistant from 2013 – 2015. They have been heavily involved in LeaderShape programming and events that are critical for the leadership development of our students. Additionally, Bailey helped establish a variety of programs that we now continue to develop for the Leadership Institute and we cannot thank them enough for all the energy and investment they had on our Texas State students and leadership culture.