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Alumni Spotlight: Alani Pace

Alani Pace, a graduate of Martha Ellen Stilwell School of the Arts (2020), is currently a junior at North Carolina A&T State University majoring in Computer Graphics Technology. During high school Alani participated in several of our programs including the Summer Youth Leadership Institute (SYLI) @ Goizueta, Turner Voices Youth Media Institute now known as Warner Bros Discovery Future Leaders Institute  and the fall summit: Leadership ExCHANGE. Last summer (2022), Alani served on the 21CL Summer Leadership Team helping to mentor the participating students during their own summer leadership institute experience. “I still feel nervous about doing some things, but I do it anyway. I do it even though I am scared, and I have been rewarded greatly for pushing myself out my comfort zone and taking advantage of the opportunities that scared me.” ~Alani Pace

Paint a brief picture of what you are doing now.

I am now a junior in college majoring in computer graphics technology with a concentration in user experience (UX) design. I am a member of several organizations on campus and I enjoy volunteering with them in my free time. I am a member of the university honors program and serve as an honors ambassador. As an ambassador, I also serve as a mentor for 5 freshman honors students. Outside of school, I am working hard to strengthen my design skills and have enrolled in a bootcamp with the Georgia Institute of Technology. I’ve enjoyed attending professional conferences, such as the Thurgood Marshall Leadership Institute, and getting to network with seasoned professionals as I get closer to graduating college. I just accepted my first internship in my chosen field and I look forward to growing my professional portfolio during the summer 2023.

How did participating in 21CL transform you and lead you to where you are now?

I can confidently attribute a lot of my success in college to participating in 21CL as a teen. The skills and experiences I gained with 21CL have helped me tremendously. I went to college with a working knowledge of how to conduct myself in a professional environment, network and build professional relationships, and deliver my own personal elevator pitch during interviews and meetings with others.

Which programs did you participate in? How did the skills/tools/perspectives you acquired from 21CL prepare you for your next steps, going into college, taking on new leadership roles in your community, college and after?

I attended the Turner Voices Youth Media Institute when it was still active, and followed that with SYLI before graduating high school. Last summer I served as a Summer Staff for 21CL’s Summer Youth Leadership Institute (SYLI) and led my own group of approximately 20 students through their programs. I was able to apply that experience to my role as an honors ambassador almost immediately when school started this fall. Managing the 5 students I have now is a breeze compared to planning programs and guiding a full classroom of students. Involvement in 21CL requires you to step into leadership positions and be creative professionally. I draw upon that experience in my collaborations on group projects and with volunteer groups, and I know that I can take the skills I’ve learned to the workforce.

Do you have a memorable or ‘aha’ moment during your time at 21CL? (Particular program, meeting a professional and diverse peers, speaking in public for the first time, etc.?)

When I attended the media institute, that is the first time I spoke publicly in front of a large group of people. When I first learned that I had to speak I did my best to avoid having a speaking role. I almost made it through the entire week without being selected to speak, which my counselors realized. So on the last day I had to speak in front of not only the students but also their families at the closing ceremony. I was nervous but I overcame an obstacle that I never thought I would. I got over my anxiety and from there, something in me shifted. I still feel nervous about doing some things, but I do it anyway. I do it even though I am scared, and I have been rewarded greatly for pushing myself out my comfort zone and taking advantage of the opportunities that scared me.

Did 21CL assist you in developing a leadership style that makes you an effective leader? if so how? And have you recently learned something else about leadership? Please share!

21CL helped me find my voice and feel comfortable sharing my knowledge with others. I always keep in mind that someone might be nervous about stepping out in front of others so I do my best to create a safe space. I was a trainer at my job at Chick-Fil-A, and I always made sure to be patient and to share best practices so that new employees could thrive. I think good leaders invite everyone to contribute and that is what I bring to the spaces I’m fortunate enough to occupy.