21CL Alumnus Asher Jones is our first Alumni Spotlight for the month of November! He is a graduate of Roswell High School (2013) and Georgia State University (2017). Asher works as Program Manager for Leadership Connect at 21st Century Leaders Inc., managing several programs including, Leadership Connect – the online learning platform, 21Clubs, our Youth Ambassadors, Summer Immersion Program, and collaborates with our other Program Manager on all other 21CL programmatic efforts! Asher is a football enthusiast turned into a great leader, he says that 21CL inspired him to look into other interesting careers and transformed him into a more collaborative leader and team-player.
How did participating in 21CL transform you and lead you to where you are?
Participating in 21CL in high school greatly improved my understanding of careers outside the ones I was initially interested in. Before 21CL, all I really cared about was football and basing everything in my life around football. After I attended a 21CL program, I was able to understand the wide range of careers that also peaked my interest.
I came back to work as part of the staff for the Summer Leadership Team in 2017 and luckily found a full-time role with 21st Century Leaders soon thereafter. I joined 21st Century Leaders because as an alumnus of the program I know first hand what a great experience it is for high school students. The relationships and contacts I cultivated as a result of 21st Century Leaders have been very impactful. I am so excited to now be able to be an integral part of contributing to the development of those relationships on the other side!
How did 21CL 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 prepare me for college and the next steps in my life simply by exposing them to me. I had never stayed in a dorm room, networked with a professional or really spent much time on a college campus before 21CL, so to be able to combine all those things in one week, through the summer leadership institutes, was truly transformative. Along with enhancing my public speaking skills as I am a naturally outgoing person, 21CL also helped me develop my critical thinking skills as well as my team building skills by putting me in situations that forced me to evaluate and analyze situations while also relying on others for assistance – which I wasn’t necessarily great at before.
Which programs did you participate in and what stood out to you?
I attended Leadership Unplugged in 2011 and Leadership Plugged In 2012 (both are merged to our Youth Media Institute). While I can’t really recall a true “aha” moment, I do remember all the conversations and experiences I had with peers and professionals to this day and I value them greatly.
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 did help me enhance my leadership style by instilling in me the importance of team building and reliance on others. I was (and still am) am a pretty stubborn person who likes to do things his own way and always thought other people would hinder rather than help me in the end. 21CL showed me it’s quite the opposite and how to properly value the contributions of others in order to be a more effective leader. It is something I still grow in everyday but there has been definite improvement and I have 21CL to thank. If you need proof, ask Nicole (our other Program Manager)!