When I began my fellowship journey one year ago, I was very focused on what I could do: how many trainings can I attend; how many meetings can I facilitate; how many products can I generate; etc. While I have done a great many things so far, my perspective has shifted from an external goal to an internal goal: Who can I become through this fellowship?
In the last year, I have had the opportunity to learn about social entrepreneurship from the University of North Dakota; pursue professional certification from the Lilly School of Philanthropy in Fund Raising Management and Nonprofit Executive Leadership; receive executive coaching; attend national conferences for the Council on Foundations and Independent Sector; participate in the Generation Now Leadership Visit; and facilitate focus groups and mentorships for Millennials with change-makers in my community. While all of these experiences have helped to build my professional skill set and teach me valuable lessons for the future, all of them pale in comparison to the experience I had while at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government for the professional course Leadership for the 21st Century: Chaos, Conflict, and Courage.
Growing up in a small town in North Dakota, I could have never imagined being on campus at Harvard with students from over twenty different nations sharing our personal struggles and dreams for the future. It was such an amazing and inspiring experience and has served as the catalyst for my new way of approaching the fellowship and my internal capacity to exercise leadership in my community.
My experience at the Harvard Kennedy School coupled with conversations with individuals who care about my future have led me to believe that perhaps I wasn’t thinking big enough for my career and potential impact when I began the fellowship. While this realization was at first a little disappointing, I am so thankful that I have another year of resources and opportunities to continue shaping who I will be at the end of my fellowship.
As I look to the next year, I am excited to attend the TEDWomen Conference in Monterey, CA; finish my professional certification in Fund Raising Management and Nonprofit Executive Leadership; continue working with my executive coach; and continue pursuing opportunities for Millennial engagement in my community. I am also hoping to attend another executive education opportunity at the Harvard Kennedy School.
As I reflect on my fellowship experience thus far, I feel so much pride in what I’ve been able to achieve with my personal brand in the community, depth of network, support from mentors, and change in thinking. Archie Bush’s intent with the Bush Fellowships was to support the growth and development of a high potential individual so they can become better networked to effectively lead change in their community. I feel as though I am just beginning to see the depth of my own potential, and I am hoping that through this experience I can help to fulfill a small piece of Archie’s legacy through my work and impact on my community.