Amara Tennessee is our first Alumni Spotlight for the month of October, She is a graduate of Roswell High School (2015) and currently a senior at Georgia College & State University, double majoring in Public Health and Spanish with a concentration in Spanish for the Health Professionals, and a minor in Global Health Studies.  Amara has remained engaged with 21st Century Leaders long after high school by serving as part of our summer staff for our summer institutes in 2018 and 2019.  Amara says 21CL encouraged her to pursue a life she is proud of, and gave me the tools necessary to obtain that life.

Paint a brief picture of what you are doing now.

I graduated from Roswell High School in 2015 and then moved to Ypane, Paraguay where I worked as a medical volunteer for 11 months. During my time in Paraguay, I worked in a mobile vaccination clinic at El Centro de Salud and a cardiology and diabetes center at Centro de Especialidades. My gap year allowed me to explore an entirely new culture that was vastly different than my own. I was given the opportunity to further my Spanish language skills and my experiences aided in shaping my college experiences as well. In Paraguay I was introduced to the world of public health and the implementation of public health programming. In April, I was awarded as Georgia College’s School of Health and Human Performances’ “Outstanding Junior in Public Health” as voted on by professors and faculty of my University. I am looking forward to graduation in May 2020 and all that the future holds for me.

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

21st Century Leaders taught me that leadership is centered by connecting with those around you for the purpose of improving and empowering others. Once I recognized my ability as a leader, it transformed my interactions with everyone I interacted with. 21CL showed me how much I enjoy working with people and how important it is for me personally to encourage people to live their best lives. 21CL is a unique and explorative opportunity!

How did 21 CL prepare you for your next steps? Going into college and taking on leadership roles, heading into a new era of professionalism, etc. What skills/tools/perspectives have helped you along the way?

21CL helped me recognize the courage in following your individual path. My college experience has been full to say the least. I have had the ability to study abroad in Santiago, Chile and work in a hospital at La Universidad de Los Andes. I was invited to serve as a translator in a medical clinic and to teach prevention methods of vector borne illnesses in Honduras this upcoming fall as an accompaniment to my Universities Nursing program. 21st Century Leaders encouraged me to pursue a life I am proud of, and gave me the tools necessary to obtain that life. I learned invaluable networking skills, and became more confident as a public speaker. Each of the lessons I have learned over the years with 21CL has aided in my growth and development as a leader.

 Which programs did you participate in, and when? What skills did you gain or improve through those programs?

I participated in 21st Century Leaders’ year round programs including two of their summer leadership institutes; Earth Care in 2012 and the Summer Youth Leadership Institute (SYLI) in 2013. I attended their school-year live summits and  served on the Youth Ambassadors in 2013 and 2014 school years. These experiences taught me how to learn from those around me. I was able to work with students who were equally as ambitious and yet so different than I. I learned to listen intently,  as it’s important to take a step back and listen. Instead of listening with the intent to reply, I learned to listen with the intent to understand. It’s important that people feel heard and as I leader I strive to ensure that.

 What was a memorable or ‘aha’ moment in 21CL? (Particular program, meeting a professional and diverse peers, speaking in public for the first time, etc.?)

 I cherish my time with 21CL, because it was one of the most unique experiences I have been able to take part in. I value how collaborative the entire program is. 21CL fostered an environment where a group of students were able to collaborate. The R+ memos we received at the end of the programs were such an encouraging surprise. I was overwhelmed with the kindness of my peers and their genuine desire for everyone’s success in leadership and life. I was able to leave summer programs with a new set of friends and a new set of skills that have only propelled my leadership skills.

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!

I would describe my leadership style as being “service led”. I genuinely take joy in seeing the success of others around me; it both humbles and motivates me. I value my interpersonal skills and I recognize that every interaction is an opportunity to make a positive impact on others. It is important to know that leadership also means constant growth, every interaction and situation will be different than the one before. It is important to be adaptable while still staying firm in your morals.